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Strong, Gregory meet fans, boosters at Summer Stampede

Football coach Charlie Strong and men’s basketball coach Brian Gregory will highlight Summer Stampede. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

First year USF coaches Charlie Strong (football) and Brian Gregory (men’s basketball) are convening at a Tampa restaurant today to rally booster support before their inaugural seasons as Bulls in 2017.

This event, known as the Summer Stampede, will be held at Ulele in downtown Tampa.  The event includes food, a cash bar, speeches from both coaches and a photo session for an expected 200 fans. 

Before selling out, tickets to the event were $10 for current season ticket holders and Bulls Club members, $25 for the general public and were free for “Iron Bulls” – donors who give more than $10,000 to the Bulls Club annually. 

The Summer Stampede is the only booster-style event currently scheduled for USF this summer and is contrast to booster events from previous summers.

Last June’s Kickoff and former USF coach Willie Taggart’s booster tour held four free events around the Tampa Bay area. It also included stops in Bradenton, Brandon, St. Petersburg and a dinner at Ulele in Tampa.

Two seasons ago, Taggart made stops as far away as Miami and Atlanta to raise support.

Along with the booster events, the programs are changing.  

Coming off a record 11-win season in 2016, USF football is the preseason favorite to win the AAC, according to USA Today and Athlon Sports. While USF has gained further attention from national media outlets, its season ticket sales are higher than they were at this time a year ago. 

There were 15,973 season tickets sold in total last season. As of June 20, 13,193 season tickets have been sold for next season, despite a home schedule that does not include Florida State or UCF, which were USF’s highest attended home games in 2016.

While Strong is taking over a Bulls team coming off its winningest season in program history, Gregory is taking over a depleted squad that won only one conference game out of 18 last season. 

With the only way to go being up, Gregory will look to grow last season’s 1,593 total season tickets sold starting with today’s booster event.