New Orleans has special meaning to USF coach King

Shaun King (above) won a Super Bowl with the Buccaneers in 2003. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/GOUSFBULLS.COM

USF running backs coach Shaun King led Tulane to an undefeated season in 1998.

He set the single-season NCAA Division I-A record for passing efficiency with 183.3 that same year. His jersey still hangs from numerous cafes and sandwich shops throughout the city.

He was even inducted into Tulane athletics’ hall of fame.

But what is King most looking forward to in his return to New Orleans on Saturday when USF plays Tulane at Yulman Stadium?

The food.

His favorite memory from his time in Louisiana includes food too — but on a different level.

“My favorite memory (from college) is I had a wide receiver (named) Juwan Dawson and he was from Houma, Louisiana,” King said. “We went to his house and it had a very interesting menu. Some raccoon, some possum. It was my introduction to that real born-and-raised Louisiana menu.

“I didn’t try (the raccoon), but I was very respectful when I said no thanks. I watched him eat it, and it looked really good… but I stuck with the chicken.”

It’s been nearly 20 years since he left Tulane and the city to enter the NFL draft. Then, King, a St. Petersburg native, was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he played six seasons, started the entire 2000 season and won a Super Bowl as a backup in 2003.

If it weren’t for his playing days in Tampa, it’s possible King would still be living in New Orleans.

“New Orleans is a really-really cool, amazing city,” King said. “If I didn’t live in Florida, I’d probably live in New Orleans. The people there are awesome.”

USF leaves for New Orleans on Friday, which should leave King with some time to delve into his favorite creole cuisine before the 7 p.m. kickoff between USF (6-0) and Tulane (3-3).

Once kickoff comes, however, King is all business.

“What we accomplished in my tenure at Tulane is something that I’ll always have,” King said. “But this is business. I’m all in with South Florida right now. We’re going to go up there to get the W.”

The game will be the first ever meeting between USF and Tulane in football. The Green Wave, according to Rating Percentage Index (RPI), are ranked No. 62 and will be the highest rated opponent according to Rating Percentage Index (RPI) USF has faced all season.

With a win, the Bulls will become 7-0 for the first time in program history and would be five games away from matching Tulane’s 12-0 record in 1998.

“(Tulane) is always going to be special in my life, but we’re trying to do the same thing here (at USF),” King said. “We’ve never won a conference championship at this university in football. That’s a tremendous honor that we’re chasing, but it’s something that I want these guys to experience and have the rest of their lives.

“Not a lot of times in life you have an opportunity to be a part of something truly great. Tulane is the next potential roadblock that we have to figure out how to get past.”