With three weeks left in the regular season, Bulls coach Alex Golesh said he recognizes that producing an elite football team takes time.
It also comes with one of the many necessary evils of rebuilding – inconsistency.
Golesh has guided USF to a 4-5 (2-3 AAC) record so far, already surpassing many preseason expectations set for the team. The Bulls are also playing for the chance to appear in the team’s first bowl game since 2018.
However, the team’s unpredictability has been one of the most compelling, and frustrating, storylines of this season.
“There’s so much good and bad all at the same time,” he said in a Tuesday press conference. “It’s the inconsistency that keeps you up at night.”
USF runs the fastest offense in college football with 84 plays per game. But the team has often struggled with capitalizing on offensive opportunities.
On defense, the Bulls have been gashed.
USF ranks 128th out of 130 FBS teams in yards allowed and has given up over 55 points in three of its last four games.
Throughout the highs and lows of trying to rebuild a team that hasn’t seen a winning season since 2018, Golesh is preaching patience.
“You’ve got to be process-driven rather than result-oriented,” Golesh said.
This isn’t the first rebuilding program that Golesh has joined. He’s been a part of struggling Illinois and Iowa State programs.
But, this is the first time he’s gone through this process as a head coach.
Golesh said he has gleaned knowledge from his fellow USF coaches, including first-year men’s basketball coach Amir Abdur-Rahim and veteran women’s basketball coach Jose Fernandez.
Golesh said he frequently texts Fernandez, who was in Golesh’s position 23 years ago. Since then, he’s built a perennial NCAA Tournament contender.
Culture is something that Fernandez has perfected during his time at USF, something that Golesh is trying to translate to his own team.
“[Fernandez has] a unique perspective on not just what this place is, but he’s a great example of ‘They just continue to win,’” Golesh said.
The rebuild has come full circle for the football program. USF and Temple met under much different circumstances almost exactly a year ago.
The Bulls were 1-7, playing with their backup quarterback all while in the throes of a six-game skid.
USF ended up being blown out – a familiar situation for a team that couldn’t seem to turn things around.
This season, the Bulls find themselves in a much different position – playing for the chance to appear in the team’s first bowl game since 2018.
Golesh has preached the importance of taking games one week at a time throughout his tenure
However, he said that he articulated to the team what’s at stake for the first time on Tuesday.
“I keep telling these guys, ‘It’s been a long time since you were playing meaningful games in November that matter in the conference,’” Golesh said.
Senior defensive end Johnathan Ross, who played against the Owls last season, sees this weekend’s game as a chance for things to go much differently.
“We need to change this,” Ross said. “Really just leading by example, calling out people, holding people accountable and letting them help us hold us accountable.”
More change may need to come, and on the defensive side of the ball. The Bulls have allowed 55 points in three of the past four games – by far the most in the FBS.
“I’d definitely say a lot of guys have been looking in the mirror and figuring out what they can do better. Because ultimately it’s going to help the whole team,” Ross said.
Golesh said the matchup against Temple will be another measuring stick for a team that needs to win two out of the next three games in order to become eligible for a bowl matchup.
“We’re playing for something. I’m excited to go play Saturday and see where we are,” he said.
USF will face off against Temple on Saturday at Raymond James Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for noon and will be broadcast on ESPN+ and BullsUnlimited.