USF wants to ‘create a buzz’ with pep rally, events

After two big wins by the USF football team in recent weeks, some Student Government (SG) leaders knew Thursday’s showdown with Cincinnati would be “huge,” said Ken Getty, director of Student Life and Traditions for SG.

So, SG and USF Athletics are partnering to host a pep rally at noon today in the Marshall Student Center’s amphitheatre, as part of a big effort this week to “create a buzz” about the game, which should have Raymond James Stadium at near capacity, Getty said.

“We want to pump up the student body,” he said.

USF coach Jim Leavitt, football players, cheerleaders, SunDolls, the Herd of Thunder marching band and other “special guests” will be at the pep rally, which should last about 30 minutes, and free pizza will be served, Getty said.

It’s something SG has wanted to do since the beginning of the semester, but the implications of the Cincinnati game – as both teams are ranked in the top 25 – prompted the scheduling, he said.

The matchup, which will be televised nationwide on ESPN at 7:30 p.m., pits the No. 21 Bulls and the No. 8 Bearcats, the only remaining undefeated teams in the Big East, said USF Executive Associate Athletic Director Bill McGillis.

USF defeated in-state rival Florida State on Sept. 26 and is 1-0 in the conference after defeating Syracuse on Oct. 3.

“It’s the biggest game in the nation,” said McGillis, about the Thursday night broadcast.

McGillis said he couldn’t remember the last time a pep rally was held for a football game. He said he doesn’t think there’s been one in the three years he’s been at USF.

“Hopefully that will raise the buzz on campus,” McGillis said.

Athletics used other events this week to “spread the word” about the football game, he said.

USF’s mascot Rocky D. Bull was featured on TV with News Channel 8 anchors and meteorologists, and Athletics hosted “Breakfasts with the Bulls” on Monday and Tuesday at Tampa Bay area businesses like Tampa Electric Company and law firm Fowler White Boggs that employ a large number of USF alumni employees.

USF football players visited children at Pizzo Elementary School and Shriners Hospitals for Children in Tampa on Monday. McGillis said it was “as great an experience” for the players as it was for the kids.

Athletics officials also had radio and TV interviews this week to discuss the game’s significance.

“We really wanted to take the message to the people,” McGillis said.

The event continues today, as Leavitt and other coaches will greet troops at MacDill Air Force Base at 7 a.m.

USF already exceeded its initial student ticket request of 12,501, the University announced Monday, prompting it to offer more student tickets for $10.

The student crowd could exceed its record of 13,499 at the Kansas game last year, McGillis said. He compared the Cincinnati game Thursday to past important matchups like Auburn and West Virginia in 2007 and Kansas in 2008 – all USF victories.

“It’s just like those three,” McGillis said. “It’s gigantic for us.”