After reading the post, I found that I also had similar feelings about the state of USF athletics. It seems the passion that came with the 2007 football season, along with the surge of the soccer team in recent years, has somewhat deteriorated. I am not sure if this is because we are fed up with a lack of championships, no recent big-time wins, displeased with current coaching situations, or the number of other reasons that cause fans to become frustrated. Just know, that after my experiences this past weekend, my hope-and-love fire for both the University of South Florida and its athletics was rekindled.
This past Saturday, a group of friends and I participated in the Warrior Dash held in Lake Wales, FL. If you have not heard of this, or unsure of what it entails, check out the link. As is customary of this particular group of friends (the group I have my football tickets with), we are always sporting USF gear when attending giant social events. Normally we are outnumbered by Gators, Noles, Canes, and sometimes even UCF fans. When we get the occasional "Go Bulls" with the horns, it is a tiny victory for the community. Lack of Bulls fans was not the case this weeked at The Dash. In fact, there were so many people sporting Bulls gear that I was getting annoyed with have to respond to multitude of "Go Bulls" thrown my way. There were literally hundreds of Bulls there, and we far out numbered any other Florida school fans/alum in attendance. It was great to finally be somewhere that was not "Gator Nation."
The next day, after sleeping off my demoralized (yet accomplished) soul, my wife and I started our journey back to Sarasota. Since both of us are USF alumni ('07/'08), we decided to stop in Tampa at Mr. Dunderbak's for lunch. Since we had only eaten breakfast a couple hours earlier, we were not quite hungry yet. I proposed that we stop by campus and take a long walk around to see all that has changed. I was there earlier this year, but it was only at the bookstore for a few minutes prior to a football game. I had a good idea of what the new Marshall Center entailed, but not much else beyond that. We parked at the bookstore parking lot, and began our trek through campus. We took a good walk through all the floors of the Marshall Center, and could not believe how great it looked on the inside. The upgrades that were made to the Food Court area and the Top of the Palms restaurant were incredible. It is definitely a place to be proud of. There were several students sitting throughout the center doing research/work, and it was SUNDAY. You could tell there is much more pride in being on campus.
As we continued walking around, reminiscing on the great times we had, we eventually came across the construction of the new baseball stadium and football practice facilities. The new athletics complex is going to be amazing. We are finally going to have the tools we need to bring in the type of recruits and students that will take both the teams, and the university as a whole, to the next level. It was right at that moment I became so damn proud of my school. There was never a doubt in my mind that I was a Bull for life, but my wife looked over at me and asked why I was smiling. My response was something along the lines of..."Look at what OUR school is becoming. Just look at these improvements. I used to think we were spoiled, but this is incredible. We are going to be BIG on the map soon." Shortly after, we discussed how much we want to push our kids to go to USF, and build a family legacy.
If you have not made it out to the school recently, you really need to. USF is on the right track, and the fan support will start to grow soon. I have no doubt in my mind about that.
USF BULLS ARE WE!