South Florida Bulls football
|South Florida Bulls football|
4th year, 24–25 (.490)
|Stadium||Raymond James Stadium|
|Field surface||Grass, Tifway Bermuda 419|
|All-time record||135–103 (.567)|
|Bowl record||4–3 (.571)|
Green and Gold|
|Fight song||Golden Brahman March|
|Marching band||Herd of Thunder|
The South Florida Bulls football team represents the University of South Florida in the sport of American football. The Bulls started playing in 1997 and currently compete in the American Athletic Conference (The American) of the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) within the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The team plays its home games at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
Jim Leavitt era (1997–2009)
In 1997, Jim Leavitt, previously the Defensive Coordinator at Kansas State, was hired as the team's first head coach. Their first team meeting was held under a shade tree, as the school had no proper football facilities on campus
In 2001, after competing for four years as a Division I-AA (now Division I FCS) independent, the Bulls moved to Division I-A (now Division I FBS), where they remained independent. They joined Conference USA in 2003, but only stayed until 2005, when they became a member of the Big East Conference (now the American Athletic Conference).
On December 31, 2005, USF lost to NC State in the Bulls' first-ever bowl appearance, the Meineke Car Care Bowl. On December 23, 2006, USF won its first bowl game, the inaugural Papajohns.com Bowl, with a victory over former Conference USA rival, East Carolina. Leavitt would lead the Bulls to 5 straight bowl games, earning a 3–2 record.
South Florida received increased press coverage for their upsets of Top 25 ranked teams such as Louisville (2005), West Virginia (2006, 2007, 2009), Auburn (2007), Kansas (2008) and Florida State (2009). During Leavitt's tenure, the Bulls were 7–12 against opponents ranked in the Top 25.
Week 3 – #23 after defeating #17 Auburn 26–23
Week 4 – #18 after defeating North Carolina 37–10
Week 5 – #6 after defeating #5 West Virginia 21–13
Week 6 – #5 after defeating FAU 35–23
Week 7 – #2 after defeating UCF 64–12
The Bulls' high ranking was short lived, as South Florida lost its next 3 games, and tumbled out of the rankings. However, the Bulls rebounded towards the end of the season, finishing the regular season ranked #21 in the BCS Standings and #23 in the AP Poll. Following their final regular season game, they faced Oregon in the Brut Sun Bowl. Oregon defeated the Bulls by the score of 56–21, in which USF set a Sun Bowl record for most points allowed to an opponent. Following the loss, USF was dropped from the national rankings in both the AP Poll and the USA Today Poll.
Leavitt was fired on January 8, 2010 after an investigation revealed that, during halftime of a game against Louisville, he grabbed a player by the shoulder pads and struck him twice across the face. The investigation also claimed that Leavitt interfered with the investigation by telling several coaches and players to change their stories. Leavitt maintains he never struck the player, but was merely trying to console him, and after a wrongful termination suit against USF, the school eventually settled with Leavitt for $2.75 million. Leavitt went on to serve as LB Coach for the San Francisco 49ers, who, in his first season (2011), reached the NFC Championship game for the first time since 1997. He is now the Defensive Coordinator at the University of Colorado.
Skip Holtz era (2010–2012)
On January 14, 2010, Skip Holtz was hired away from East Carolina and named the team's second head coach. Although the Bulls did well in Holtz's first season, defeating #16 ranked Notre Dame in Week 1, and Clemson in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, USF steadily declined during Holtz's time with the team, going 5–7 and 3–9 in his last two seasons. During Holtz's tenure, the Bulls were 1–5 against teams ranked in the Top 25. His firing was announced by Doug Woolard on December 2, 2012. Holtz was subsequently hired by Louisiana Tech as its new head coach.
Willie Taggart era (2013–present)
On December 8, 2012, USF announced that Willie Taggart, who previously coached at Western Kentucky, would be the third head coach in USF football history. Due to roster turnover, and lack of recruiting depth by Skip Holtz, the Bulls struggled in Taggart's first year, posting a 2–10 record.
USF had the top recruiting class in the American Conference heading into the 2014 season, and the Bulls showed improvement in Taggart's second year, finishing with a 4–8 record. During the home opener against Western Carolina, freshman Marlon Mack tied the USF single-game rushing record, with 275 yards.
In Taggart's third season, after once again having the top recruiting class in the American Conference, the Bulls finished with an 8–5 record. After a 1–3 start, with losses to FSU, Maryland, and Memphis, USF won seven of their next eight games, including a 44–23 upset of #22 Temple, a 65–27 victory over Cincinnati, and a 44–3 victory over rival UCF. The Bulls earned a bid to the Miami Beach Bowl against Taggart's former team, Western Kentucky. On December 21, 2015, the same day as the team's bowl game, Coach Taggart received a three-year contract extension, which keeps him at USF through the 2020 season. The Bulls would go on lose their bowl game by a score of 45–35, however, during the game, multiple school records would be set, including single season rushing yards (1,381), and 100-yard rushing games (9), by Marlon Mack, and single season receiving yards (822) by Rodney Adams.
Heading into the 2016 season, Bulls players were named on 12 national award watch lists, and the team received two votes in both the AP Poll and the Coaches Poll. Many media outlets predicted the Bulls would win the East division of the American and play Houston in the American Athletic Conference Football Championship Game on December 3, 2016. The Bulls ended the season tied with Temple for 1st place in the East division, but because of a Week 8 loss to the Owls, USF would not play in the Championship Game. In a Week 5 game against Cincinnati, Marlon Mack passed Andre Hall to become the leading rusher in program history. Two weeks later, in a Week 7 game against Connecticut, Mack passed B.J. Daniels to become the program leader in rushing touchdowns. After that game, Coach Taggart was included on the watch list for the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award, which is presented annually to the best coach in college football. During their Week 9 game against #22 Navy, the Bulls set a school record for rushing yards in a game, racking up 412 yards in a 52-45 victory. The Bulls would break that record two weeks later in their Week 11 game against Memphis, rushing for 416 yards in a 49-42 victory. Also in that game, the Bulls set a school record for offensive touchdowns in a season (58). In a Week 12 game against SMU, Quinton Flowers passed Matt Grothe to become the school leader in single-season total offense. The Bulls secured their first 10-win season after a 48-31 victory over UCF in Week 13. During that game, Quinton Flowers set the school record for single season rushing yards (1,425), passing the mark Marlon Mack set in 2015. On November 30, 2016, QB Quniton Flowers was named the American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year, which is the first such award in school history.
|NCAA Division I champions||Conference Champions||Division Champions||Bowl Eligible||Undefeated Season|
|Year||NCAA Division||Conference||Conference Division||Overall||Conference||Coach||Highest Ranking|
|1997||I-AA||Division I-AA Independent||N/A||11||5||6||.455||0||0||0||.000||N/A||Jim Leavitt||–|
|1998||I-AA||Division I-AA Independent||N/A||11||8||3||.727||0||0||0||.000||N/A||Jim Leavitt||–|
|1999||I-AA||Division I-AA Independent||N/A||11||7||4||.636||0||0||0||.000||N/A||Jim Leavitt||–|
|2000||I-AA||Division I-AA Independent||N/A||11||7||4||.636||0||0||0||.000||N/A||Jim Leavitt||–|
|2005||I-A||Big East||N/A||12||6||6||.500||7||4||3||.571||T-3rd||Jim Leavitt||-|
|2006||FBS||Big East||N/A||13||9||4||.692||7||4||3||.571||T-4th||Jim Leavitt||-|
|2007||FBS||Big East||N/A||13||9||4||.692||7||4||3||.571||T-3rd||Jim Leavitt||#2 (Week 8)
AP & Coaches Poll
|2008||FBS||Big East||N/A||13||8||5||.615||7||2||5||.286||6th||Jim Leavitt||#10 (Week 6)
AP & Coaches Poll
|2009||FBS||Big East||N/A||13||8||5||.615||7||3||4||.429||T-4th||Jim Leavitt||#21 (Week 7)
AP & Coaches Poll
|2010||FBS||Big East||N/A||13||8||5||.615||7||3||4||.429||T-5th||Skip Holtz||-|
|2011||FBS||Big East||N/A||12||5||7||.417||7||1||6||.143||T-7th||Skip Holtz|| #14 (Week 5)
|2012||FBS||Big East||N/A||12||3||9||.250||7||1||6||.143||8th||Skip Holtz||–|
|2013||FBS||The American||N/A||12||2||10||.167||8||2||6||.250||8th||Willie Taggart||–|
|2014||FBS||The American||N/A||12||4||8||.363||8||3||5||.428||7th||Willie Taggart||–|
|2015||FBS||The American||East||13||8||5||.615||8||6||2||.750||2nd East||Willie Taggart||-|
|2016||FBS||The American||East||12||10||2||.833||8||7||1||.875||T-1st East||Willie Taggart||#22 (Week 15)
|2005||December 31, 2005||Meineke Car Care Bowl||NC State||L||0||14||Jim Leavitt||notes|
|2006||December 23, 2006||PapaJohns.com Bowl||East Carolina||W||24||7||Jim Leavitt||notes|
|2007||December 31, 2007||Sun Bowl||Oregon||L||21||56||Jim Leavitt||notes|
|2008||December 20, 2008||St. Petersburg Bowl||Memphis||W||41||14||Jim Leavitt||notes|
|2009||January 2, 2010||International Bowl||Northern Illinois||W||27||3||Jim Leavitt||notes|
|2010||December 31, 2010||Meineke Car Care Bowl||Clemson||W||31||26||Skip Holtz||notes|
|2015||December 21, 2015||Miami Beach Bowl||Western Kentucky||L||35||45||Willie Taggart||notes|
|2016||December 29, 2016||Birmingham Bowl||South Carolina||Willie Taggart|
The Bulls played at Houlihan's Stadium in 1997. Raymond James Stadium is a $168.5 million facility, which opened on September 20, 1998 with a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the Chicago Bears. Two weeks later, the Bulls debuted in their new home with a 45–6 win over The Citadel in front of 32,598 fans. From 1998 to 2007, only the lower half of the stadium has been typically opened for USF games, allowing for a capacity of 41,441, although the upper deck has been opened numerous times to accommodate crowds in excess of what the lower bowl can handle. However, as of 2008, USF has opened the upper deck for every home game and is selling season tickets in the upper deck as well.
On September 28, 2007, the #18 ranked Bulls played the #5 ranked West Virginia Mountaineers in front of 67,012 fans. This remained the largest non-Super Bowl crowd in the stadium's history until September 29, 2012, when the USF Bulls played the FSU Seminoles in front of 69,383 fans.
The Bulls have enjoyed a winning edge in Raymond James, building an 86–42 (.672) record since 1998, including one streak of 21 straight victories (11/6/1999 – 10/10/2003). The Bulls are 14–1 in Week 1 games played at Raymond James, with their only loss coming in 2013 at the hands of McNeese State.
Current professional players
- National Football League (13)
- Mike Jenkins – Cornerback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Nate Allen – Safety, Oakland Raiders
- Jason Pierre-Paul – Defensive End, New York Giants
- George Selvie – Defensive End, Free Agent
- Terrell McClain – Defensive Tackle, Dallas Cowboys
- Sam Barrington – Linebacker, Green Bay Packers
- Kayvon Webster – Cornerback, Denver Broncos
- B.J. Daniels – Quarterback, New York Giants
- Aaron Lynch – Linebacker, San Francisco 49ers
- Jeremiah Warren – Center, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Austin Reiter – Center, Washington Redskins
- Reshard Cliett – Linebacker, Houston Texans
- Darrell Williams – Offensive Tackle, St. Louis Rams
- Arena Football League (3)
- Richard Clebert – Defensive Line, Philadelphia Soul
- Amarri Jackson – Wide Receiver, LA Kiss
- Delbert Alvarado - Kicker, Tampa Bay Storm
- Terrance Mitchell - Cornerback, Portland Steel
- Canadian Football League (1)
USF football games currently air on the radio on Sports Radio 98.7 The Fan WBRN-FM. Play-by-play man Jim Louk is teamed with color analyst, and former Tampa Bay Buccaneer, Mark Robinson for the broadcasts. Due to USF's affiliation in the American Athletic Conference, many of the televised games air locally on ESPN3/WatchESPN, while some replays can be seen on Spectrum Sports.
As a young program that has grown rapidly, and shifted conferences several times, USF has developed few lasting rivalries. The most noteworthy has been the South Florida-UCF football rivalry against in-state opponent, the University of Central Florida. The matchup had been the subject of much discussion and fan enthusiasm since the 1990s, but it was not until 2005 that games were scheduled. The two schools met in a four-year, home-and-away series through 2008. USF won all four games, which drew substantial crowds, but declined to schedule any further games. However, the series resumed as an annual conference game when UCF joined the American in 2013.
Before major conference realignment in the early 2010s, USF had many competitive games with Louisville (5–6 overall record), West Virginia (3–4 overall record; 3–3 when opponent ranked in Top 25), and Cincinnati (0–3 when USF ranked in Top 25). USF also began a 6-year Thanksgiving weekend series in 2008 with Miami, with the last four games (2010–2013) being televised by one of the ESPN networks. West Virginia left the Big East conference before the 2012 season to join the Big 12, while Louisville left the American Athletic Conference after the 2013 season for the ACC.
|UCF||6||2||.750||2005 - 2008, 2013 - Present|
|Florida A&M||3||0||1.000||2005, 2011, 2015|
|Florida Atlantic||3||1||0.750||2002, 2007, 2010, 2013|
|Florida International||2||0||1.000||2006, 2008|
|Florida State||1||3||0.250||2009, 2012, 2015 - 2016|
USF has played many ranked opponents in their short history, earning several marquee victories.
Statistics & rankings
- The Bulls received their first ever Preseason Top 25 ranking on August 1, 2007, as they were ranked #21 in the Coaches Poll.
- USF was ranked for the first time exactly 10 years and 10 days after its inaugural game against Kentucky Wesleyan in 1997.
- USF earned an AP Poll ranking only 104 polls after becoming a full-time, bowl eligible FBS member in 2001. Boise State had the previous record, getting ranked after 115 AP Polls.
- USF became the fastest team in the modern era of college football to go from an upstart NCAA FBS school to a Top 10 ranking, which took 106 AP Polls and 112 Coaches Polls.
- USF became the fastest team in the modern era of college football to go from an upstart NCAA FBS school to a Top 5 ranking, which took them 107 weeks to achieve.
Future out of conference opponents
Announced schedules as of December 2, 2016
|vs Towson||vs Stony Brook||vs Elon||vs Wisconsin||at Texas||vs Central Michigan||vs Texas||at Western Kentucky||vs Western Kentucky||at Northern Illinois|
|vs Northern Illinois||at San Jose State||vs Georgia Tech||at Georgia Tech||vs San Jose State||vs BYU||at BYU||at Texas|
|at Syracuse||vs Illinois||at Illinois||at Central Michigan||vs Nevada|
|vs Florida State||vs UMass||at UMass||at Florida Atlantic|
- Color Palettes – University Communications. University of South Florida. Retrieved 2016-03-23.
- "South Florida Hires Skip Holtz". ncaafootball.fanhouse.com. Retrieved 2010-01-14.
- McMurphy, Brett (December 2, 2012). "USF fires Skip Holtz, sources say". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2012-12-02.
- University of South Florida Bulls 2006 Football Media Guide (pdf file) page 12
- University of South Florida Bulls 2006 Football Media Guide (pdf file) page 10, sixth paragraph.
- Greg Auman (September 6, 2008). "Should USF play UCF every year?". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
- Greg Auman (April 29, 2011). "USF says no contracts proposed for football with UCF". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
- Mike Bianchi (December 7, 2011). "Finally, Big East gives UCF some much-needed good news". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
- Sports: USF adds statement series with Hurricanes
- Game Preview: UCF at No. 5 USF – GoUSFBulls.com—Official Athletics Web Site of the University of South Florida