It's been an eventful offseason. Coaches got fired for poor performance. Coaches got fired for breaking NCAA rules. Coaches got fired after they had just been hired. Coaches got fired after they tried to sabotage their coordinator. Coaches got thrown out of casinos and went skydiving. Players were ruled ineligible for a wide assortment of offenses, some of which were stupid. One player mouthed off to TMZ and got suspended. (PROTIP: Never, ever get yourself in a position where TMZ is interested in what you are doing.) Shady recruiting types got teams in big trouble. Players got arrested for some really incredible stuff. This thing happened. If you write about a college football team, you had some amazing material to work with.
Unless you write about THESOUTHFLORIDABULLS, in which case you had almost nothing. In the year and a half we've been doing this blog, it's been pretty well demonstrated that USF football lacks charisma and liveliness. Dull, if you prefer. I don't know if this is a bad thing or not.
Here's what I mean.
GOOD THINGS ABOUT BEING A DULL TEAM
-- The Bulls are just a few weeks away from turning in their first scoreless Fulmer Cup season since 2008, and only their second one ever. Of course, now that I've said this, the University Police will redouble their efforts to bust football players for suspended licenses, parking in two spaces, rolling with broken taillights, or whatever they need to do to arrest one of them.
-- No one's bowed up on Twitter or Facebook, or said anything really crazy to a reporter that will end up on someone's bulletin board the week of a game.
-- Because we're not writing about anyone's craziness, it lets all the stories of achievement stand out more. Like Danous Estenor picking a Cadillac up off a guy, or Chaz Hine becoming a Renaissance Man, or Armando Sanchez's hard work this spring. It gives the team a likable, I'd-let-one-of-these-guys-marry-my-daughter kind of image to the rest of the community. (Especially since Tampa Bay seems overly concerned with the character of their sports teams.)
-- No one's in danger of getting fired. Obviously Skip Holtz isn't in trouble, and the entire staff came back except for the strength coach. The team could completely crater and go, like 3-9 this season, and there wouldn't be an uprising of fans begging Doug Woolard to clean house. Probably. I hope.
-- The NCAA is not snooping around the program.
The less enjoyable things about being dull are after the jump.
GOOD AND BAD THINGS ABOUT BEING A DULL TEAM
-- You don't hear very much about the Bulls outside of Big East circles. On one hand, that's good because historically the football team has not reacted well to expectations (see: 2008, 2009). But there's coming in under the radar, and then there's not even showing up on the radar. If it turns out you do have a good team, you don't want one of those pity rankings in the polls. You've seen how that works -- some team gets into November with, like, a 7-2 record, and they get ranked because writers and coaches think, "Hmmm, who else has a lopsided record that we can put in at #23 so we look like we pay attention? Oh, there's one!"
BAD THINGS ABOUT BEING A DULL TEAM
-- I'll be interested to see someone report on how season-ticket sales are going, because from afar it feels like another season with almost zero local excitement for USF football. Last year, you could blame the lack of buzz going into the season on low expectations and a horrendous home schedule. Then a lot of fans put all their eggs into the "beat Florida" basket, and when that didn't happen, I don't know... it's like everyone stopped caring as much. Last season saw the worst average home attendance since 2006, and even for a critical game against Pittsburgh the week before Thanksgiving, the student section was barely half full well into the first quarter.
-- You end up with polls like this where you barely edge out Florida Atlantic as the state's fifth most popular college football team. Good thing Florida A&M wasn't one of the choices.
-- Does anyone in the area besides USF fans know the names of more than a few players on this team? I know they never won anything, but the teams from that 2006-09 era were much more recognizable. They had personalities and quirks and interests, like George Selvie's Honey Bun habit or Matt Grothe's bow-hunting skills. The 2011 team is nearly anonymous, which is good for team chemistry but not so good for promotion. (Then again, would we have known about all those personality traits if the last group of players hadn't been on TV so often? Worth thinking about.)
-- With no distinct player personalities to advertise, your schedule poster is built around the words to the fight song, which is a noble effort by Athletics, but I'm not sure USF will ever be the type of school that sings the words en masse. Then you put a picture of a helmet your team hardly ever wears anymore on there and call it a day. Too bad, because the actual schedule part of the poster, basically everything from the QR codes on down, is excellent.
-- And finally, on a selfish note... you're killing us here! How are we supposed to be funny and creative and generate traffic and interest for our site? We've got so little to work with! At least the other teams have players flipping off Rutgers fans or skipping a tab at Village Inn or coaches starting beefs with cranky old softball coaches. I mean, we don't want you all getting arrested or doing something really harmful or dangerous... but can't someone have a moment of questionable yet hilarious judgment? Please?