Morale among football fans remains sturdy amid coaching changes

The “Spirit Table” consists of fan memorabilia from David Barta’s family as they watched USF football since they were created in 1997. ORACLE PHOTO/HANNAH HALILI

The sizzling of bacon and eggs and the sound of country music kept the spirits high as USF football fans tailgated outside of Raymond James Stadium on Saturday.

Despite the recent news of leadership changes for the Bulls, the liveliness did not seem to go away. From alumni, current students and families, home games are events that are not to be missed.

Bill Mills is a loyal USF fan and has created a family from coming to every home game. Their 7:15 a.m. set up consists of photo collages, grills, a television, an abundance of food and music.

“We’re gonna come here every game no matter what for as long as we can,” he said. “We did love [former head coach] Jeff Scott, but we’re still excited. We’ll just be here no matter what throughout.”

Mills shared the photo collage capturing their memories from tailgating the past six years. As season ticket holders, he cherishes looking at his sons sharing their love for USF football. When invited to tour the locker room, his son told Scott “I’ll see you in four years.” ORACLE PHOTO/HANNAH HALILI
Mills and his family have not missed a War on I-4 home football game since 2016. When making food before the game, they provide bacon, bagels, eggs, cheese, salsa, cookies and alcohol. ORACLE PHOTO/HANNAH HALILI

Senior English major Sean Jones has not attended as many home games as he would like to, but he said he is excited to watch now that Scott has been released. 

“The tailgate is good,” Jones said. “The game is good now that we fired our coach, and I’m excited to come out.”

David Barta graduated from USF in 1986 and has not missed a single home game since football started in 1997. 

“When I went to school here, we didn’t have a football team,” Barta said. “And I was pushing to get a football team back in the mid 80s and I swore if we ever got a football team, I would go to every game. And I have.”

Barta’s wife and two children all attended USF. He met his wife when they both were in college and had a class together. His daughter was a mass communications major and his son was a math major. ORACLE PHOTO/HANNAH HALILI

Barta began tailgating with one tent during his first years of attendance and has since added another along with a “spirit table” decorated with green and gold as more fans joined him.

“I’m anxious to see the new and upcoming players,” Barta said. “And I’m hoping that the next coach is also a very good recruiter and that we build for the future.”