Changes to spring game are good

USF’s spring football game has changed quite a bit this year.

“We want to do something different,” said Ayodele Taylor-Dixon, assistant director of athletics and marketing.

With a stumbling economy and past lack of support at spring games, the USF Athletics department has worked hard this year to lure Bulls fans to the annual Green and Gold game Saturday at 7 p.m.

This year, it’s gone the promotion route, creating several attractive contests aimed at getting more fans into the stadium.

After all, nothing says fun more than playing an alumni flag football game, getting the chance to be a guest radio sideline reporter, calling the plays from the stands or running a 40-yard dash against coach Jim Leavitt.

“You Make the Call” gives one lucky fan a chance to meet new offensive coordinator Mike Canales and call a play during each half of the game. Best of all, the winner can create an offensive play Canales will run if he likes it enough.

Another way students are being given the chance to get close is by becoming one of
four radio sideline reporters. USF fans and students will write their own commentary on one of five plays from the USF-Kansas game that led to freshman Maikon Bonani’s thrilling game-winning field goal last season. Each winner will report for one quarter of the spring game, too.

Some people may take these events as gimmicks, but in-state powers like Florida and Florida State consistently fill a majority of its stadiums, and it’s important for Raymond James Stadium to have the same atmosphere.

It will create a bigger buzz around campus for next fall. It will help attract and impress higher-profile recruits, and perhaps it will involve some of the many USF students who don’t usually attend.

It may not be the most exciting thing in the world to watch USF’s offense go up against its defense, but the experience of a different spring game this year is exciting.

Some things about the spring game won’t ever change: the football atmosphere, cheerleaders, bands and mascot. It’s always good to get out and see some of the backups that wouldn’t normally be seen in a regular game, too.

But it’s the differences that are most attractive this year.

“It’s to get the fans closer to the game,” Taylor-Dixon said.

It’s true. How else can you become a radio reporter during a college football game? How often do you yell from the stands what play the offense should run instead of getting the chance to call it yourself?

USF has finally created something interesting for this spring game. Plus, how funny would it be if Leavitt burned the socks off of a student in a race?

“We want this to be more than just a game,” Taylor-Dixon said.

It certainly will be now.