USF’s athletic programs are undoubtedly on the rise – especially football.
In its 12 years of existence, the football program has boasted four straight bowl appearances, a No. 2 national ranking and brought household names such as George Selvie and Matt Grothe to the national stage.
But football isn’t the only successful sport at USF, so where’s the love for the others?
USF women’s basketball had a record-breaking season this spring, as the Bulls won a school record 27 games and went on to win the WNIT in Kansas. Despite these accomplishments, including a 15-5 home record, the team averaged just 1,058 people in attendance, which was boosted by a crowd of 4,290 at a game against top-ranked Connecticut.
The USF men’s soccer program is in the same boat, averaging a little more than 1,000 fans at the USF Soccer Stadium, which was renovated last fall. Men’s soccer had a great season, winning the Big East championship against St. John’s and making an incredible run to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament.
Meanwhile, the men’s basketball program, which continues to settle in the bottom fourth of the Big East, averages more than 4,000 people despite its losses.
But none of these even can come close to stacking up against football attendance, which averaged 49,690 in 2008.
So, what’s so special about USF football?
Football is king in the South and that’s why it reigns supreme among USF’s athletic programs. People tend to judge a university’s entire sports department on how its football team performs.
Also, football is huge in Florida, and is simply more popular than the other sports. With traditional powerhouse universities such as Florida State, Florida and Miami in the state, a rich tradition has been built.
Attendance is likely highest at football games because they are on Saturdays, the day most people have off from work and school. It’s just the way college sports are run in this country. Sports such as soccer, basketball and tennis take a backseat – and a weekday spot – while football grabs center stage.
Because of the large crowds at each game, the University relies heavily on the football program to bring in money.
That’s why there’s so much promotion of Bulls’ football.
You won’t see any billboards of men’s soccer coach George Kiefer, who’s helped the team make numerous postseason appearances, lining Interstate 275. The television commercials promote USF football and everything in the University’s Athletics Building points to the team, because that’s where the fans are.
The University will do what it must to promote its greatest revenue source in the Athletics Department. If students and fans of other sports want to see changes, they’ll have to demonstrate their support with increased attendance.