As long as the USF Foundation is willing to be a backstop, it's officially time to fix up the Sun Dome.
We skipped the Bull-ogosphere last week because the University was on spring break and almost nothing happened. (It's a sleepy beat we have, especially during the offseason. Sort of like writing for a resort town newspaper during the low periods. By June we'll be publishing recipes and giving out tips on how to make your grass grow. It won't be pretty.)
-- Just a reminder. Football spring practice was rained out on Monday. Only five days until the spring game at Raymond James Stadium. The game starts at 2:00pm, and Gate "C" opens an hour earlier for you to get settled in. Of course, if you want season tickets and don't already have them, Saturday is a great day to test out your seats and make your purchase right on the spot.
-- The biggest news from last week involved the Sun Dome, whose renovation was given essentially a green light by the Florida Board of Governors. One caveat, which is worrying but doesn't appear to be a deal-breaker from what I've read: The USF Foundation has to backstop $20 million of the bonds, which is strange since the state is only issuing $26.5 million in bonds to fix the place up. Toro's thought was, why not just issue their own bonds and pay themselves interest? But I think the problem is they don't have the upfront money to do that. The Tribune recap of the Board of Governors' vote mentions that the USF Foundation has minus $16 million in unrestricted assets. So while they can't hit the bond market on their own, they have plenty of money later on if someone has to make good on the bonds.
And that's a possibility since USF plans to pay back the bonds with future revenues and naming rights, as if anyone would want to buy those right now. People like to make fun of other schools for going way into debt to build athletic facilities, and this isn't quite on the same scale for several reasons, but USF is doing the same thing here. We'll have to see if we can track down some of the numbers on this and see if they make sense. Better than writing about how to can your own fruit like in resort towns.
By the way, the vote from the Board of Governors was 16-1. The lone dissenting vote was by Orlando's Tico Perez, pictured here earning a nomination for the USF Player Hater of the Year. That's definitely going to be a thing, and we're going to need your help with it. More on that later.
-- We're definitely working on a longer piece about this, but Lelo, your baseball team... woof! Lost two of three to West Virginia over the weekend to start Big East play. The team is now 10-14 and staring at yet another losing season, which as we've said repeatedly is something that should never happen. The offense is so bad that in Sunday's game, Lelo or whoever felt compelled to ask Jonathan Koscso, by far the team leader in OBP and 2-for-4 on the day, to sacrifice bunt with a runner on first, no one out, and trailing by a run in the bottom of the 9th. All this while West Virginia's pitcher, Andy Berry, was up to 130 pitches and probably dog tired. The bunt worked, but the runner was stranded and USF lost 7-6.
Side note -- the Mountaineers' manager should be shamed publicly for letting his starting pitchers throw 126, 140, and 132 pitches over the weekend. Saturday's starter was a freshman, too. All of these should be on the Boyd's World Pitch Count Watch in short order.
-- Softball finally hit the road to visit St. John's and start Big East play. They only got one game in over the weekend up in Queens because of weather and field conditions, but they got their weekend's worth, beating the Red Storm 10-2 on Sunday. You may be underwhelmed by the 19-15 record, but consider that this team only has two seniors, and underclassmen (women?) are playing huge roles for Ken Eriksen. The two sluggers for the Bulls, Stephanie Medina and Kourtney Salvarola, are both freshmen who have started all 34 games. Medina, featured in this Adam Adkins article, has a couple of Big East player of the week awards, and an OPS of over 1.100, while Salvarola is tied for the team lead with five homers and is second on the roster in slugging and OPS. Freshman Ashli Goff is second in batting average and stolen bases while starting 30 games, and her twin sister Courtney is a valuable reserve. Sara Nevins, yet another freshman, leads the team in innings pitched, starts, opponent's batting average, wins, ERA, and strikeouts. There's a lot of promise for the next few years, and now that Eriksen has a real facility to recruit more talent into, the softball team should hopefully find itself back in the NCAA tournament soon.
And if that doesn't happen, maybe they could try competitive eating. Here's Eriksen to Adam Adkins about having to sit around all weekend doing nothing:
"When you’re sitting around for a day, the only thing you can do, really, is eat. So I think our team put on an average of 6-7 pounds apiece," Eriksen said. "So it was really tough, actually, getting out of the batter’s box today, but I think we’re going to work on Monday and Tuesday and settle back down to our playing weight for Wednesday’s game (against Florida).
"But I think our team can be proud of the fact that they ate the heck out of the school budget this weekend."