Heath Rinkus can be easily picked out among the fans at Raymond James Stadium or the Yuengling Center. His trademark bull hat and witty signs are a dead giveaway.
Even without live games, he’s found a way to keep up the Bulls spirit in an environment severely lacking in sports. Rinkus has been finding himself creating made-up drafts.
“I actually started a weird thing on Facebook where I run pretend drafts because I’m so sports deprived,” he said. “I make up a topic, and then I get a bunch of my friends to submit entries. We draft based off of a random topic so you’re building your own team but like, ‘favorite restaurants.’”
For now, seemingly arbitrary online drafts do enough to fill the sport-less void left behind. But after a while, the lack of college sports starts to set in. Luckily, optimism is high, especially with the excitement surrounding football coach Jeff Scott’s debut, according to Rinkus.
“The biggest thing I’m looking forward to is the new head coach,” Rinkus said. “I would love to see coach Scott get a chance to get his system in. He’s got his book and what he’s bringing in from Clemson. I hope it meshes in and we become a powerhouse. Whether that means a championship or future conference alignment, I think it was a great hire.”
Although he’s hopeful for a resurgence under Scott, news that spirit squads and marching bands won’t be allowed on the field by the AAC means the football game experience just won’t be the same, according to Rinkus.
“I saw a week or two ago that spirit squads in the AAC aren’t going to be allowed on the field and no band halftime shows,” Rinkus said. “My heart shattered because that was such a big experience for me in college.”
Rinkus was a member of the USF Coed Cheerleading team from Fall 2012 until Spring 2016 and served as a captain from 2014 to 2016.
“It was such a building experience for me being on the cheer team,” Rinkus said. “My heart goes out to all of them. It’s honestly heartbreaking.”
In spite of the less than ideal atmosphere, Rinkus will be at Raymond James Stadium to support USF in person, if fans are allowed in the stadium, of course.
He’ll be in his usual spot in front of the famous pirate ship at Raymond James on Sept. 12 in the Bulls’ home opener against Bethune-Cookman, for what Rinkus hopes is the start of a new USF era.
“Last year the offense just wasn’t for us,” Rinkus said. “We have some solid showing from receivers where we could get a quarterback system in play. It’s going to play to our strengths.
“We can have a year.”
For the full conversation with Heath Rinkus, watch The Oracle Sports Podcast with Nolan Brown and Hannah Halili, which premieres Sunday night.