Beyond setting up the team for success this season, creating a sustainable future for the football program is a vital piece to accomplishing this year’s mission, coach Jeff Scott said at Wednesday’s USF Football Kickoff Luncheon.
“There’s a lot of people that want to do that,” he said to the sold out crowd of 530 attendees. “To have sustainable success, you have to start inside and work out. It’s an inside out mentality and so for us, it starts with our culture.
“We’ve always talked about athletic ability. But the most important abilities are accountability, responsibility and dependability.”
The Luncheon, scheduled from 11:30-1:30 p.m. at The Gathering Space, featured prominent university figures speaking to provide encouragement for players and guests, and to give some insight on how the team plans to overcome adversity to win the championship this season.
President Rhea Law’s prioritization for the future on-campus stadium was evident, as she said it was a crucial part to harboring a supportive community for the program.
“We need that stadium because we need a place where we can cheer on our goals. We need a place where we can bring in people from the outside, and we can bring our alums back to our campus,” she said.
“This stadium is going to make a difference. And we’re doing it for our goals. We’re doing it for our community. We’re doing it for USF.”
New and improved facilities are only one half of the equation to success, according to Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly.
With this year’s talent, he said growing the team to possess a more competitive edge should prove to be an achievable task.
“We want to continue to see continued improvement, and obviously the talent levels continue to increase. We’ve got seven people on the national watch list, which is the most we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Kelly said.
“Obviously [there were] a lot of games we were very competitive in last year, so I’m very confident that with the culture and experience and inflection of talent we’ll be able to see more victories this year and keep moving forward.”
When speaking with three of his teammates on stage, including offensive lineman Demetris Harris, linebacker Antonio Grier and defensive end Rashawn Yates, quarterback Gerry Bohanon assured his inaugural year in the program won’t slow down the program’s ambitions for success.
He said he will maximize his efforts to support the team, and encourage his teammates to lay everything on the line, whether it be during practice or a game.
Last season, Scott invited 12 seniors who played in the 2020 COVID year to come back for a fifth year after the NCAA enacted a rule allowing them one more year of eligibility as super seniors. He said his confidence in the team was boosted when all accepted the request to stay.
This outcome is a result of the football program acting more as a family players want to be a part of rather than an obligation, he said.
Effort and support from the community will hopefully not only drive the team to a successful season, but lay the foundations to sustain a successful program overall in the future, according to Scott.
“We have a lot of donors, we have a lot of alumni that have really done the things required for us to get to where we are, and now the message is, ‘This is not time to wait,’” he said.
“We truly have to go all in together. Because to get to where we want to go, there are high stakes. And we’re gonna be looking back here over the next four years and we’re going to be looking back at how we responded right now.