Fresh off the best season in recent memory for USF football, which culminated in a 7-2 finish in the final nine games and an appearance in the Miami Beach Bowl, expectations are back on the rise for the Bulls.
Despite USF’s loss to Western Kentucky in that bowl game, the Bulls’ second-half run generated offseason national recognition in the form of first-place predictions and a program-record 12 national award watch list nominations.
The hype surrounding the 2016 Bulls couldn’t have come at a better time for USF, which is in the midst of its bid to join the Big 12.
Bulls’ Big 12 gaffe
With roughly 20 schools in contention to fill what will likely be a two-team expansion for the Big 12 conference, an FOIA request by the Tampa Bay Times revealed USF’s pitch to join the conference, which included a letter and promotional video.
Shortly after the letter became public, readers were quick to point out an embarrassing spelling error in the second line of USF’s letter to the Big 12. While touting its excellence in academics and research, USF accidentally wrote “reasearch,” providing easy jokes for college football fans across the nation.
While this spelling mistake certainly isn’t a step forward for the Bulls’ pursuits of greener pastures in the college football landscape, it’s also not a death blow to their hopes of conference realignment.
Both football and revenue play a much larger role in the Big 12’s decision than any spelling mistake could detract from.
USF currently sits on the outside of the conversation for the Big 12, but it will be the success or failure of its football team that will ultimately decide its fate — not a spelling bee.
Legree out for season
The Bulls head into 2016 with an abundance of depth at the receiver position. Headlining the position are seniors A.J. Legree and Rodney Adams, as well as junior Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
Legree transferred to USF in 2014 and was forced to forfeit a season due to the NCAA’s transfer policy at the Division I level. The senior wide receiver caught three receptions for 24 yards over appearances in seven games last season.
Unfortunately for the fifth-year senior, he tore his right ACL when running routes two weeks ago while getting in some extra work with quarterback Quinton Flowers and has been ruled out for the season.
“A.J. tore his ACL (Aug. 5), just kind of a freak incident,” coach Willie Taggart said. “No contact or anything, just running a route and his foot got stuck in the ground and he tore it. I hate it; he was having a heck of a spring. He had a really, really good summer and we were expecting big things from A.J.
“You really hate it for the kid because he worked his tail off to put himself in this position. His senior year he can’t play because of an injury. This summer, I recall him out there grabbing a female student manager, helping him work with the jug machine. That was a guy who was going to find a way to get better. He doesn’t let anything hold him back.”
Because Legree already sat out a season for transferring to USF, qualifying for a medical redshirt could be difficult.
“I hope so, we’re going to try (to get him a medical redshirt),” Taggart said. “If anyone deserves it, it’s him.”
Thor makes thunderous addition to USF broadcast
Former USF offensive lineman and booming personality, Thor Jozwiak, has joined the USF Football Broadcast team for the upcoming season.
Jozwiak will once again join the Bulls on the field on Saturdays, as he will fill the role of sideline reporter.
Returning for his 20th season, Jim Louk will be joined by former NFL player Mark Robinson in the broadcast booth this fall.
Following an All-American career as a safety at Penn State, Robinson played for both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs, spending four seasons with both teams.
Jozwiak and the USF broadcast team can be heard on WWBA 820 AM, beginning with USF’s season opener on Sept. 3 against Towson University.