SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 03: Head coach Skip Holtz of the University of South Florida Bulls yells at an assistant coach during a game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on September 3, 2011 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
I've seen a lot of angst from USF fans about this whole Team Tampa thing. If you've never heard of Team Tampa, they're a 7-on-7 team of high school football players which goes around to camps and tournaments during the summer (like USF's Sling 'n' Shoot tournament) and competes as a group. Pete DiNovo is the quarterback, and after he committed to UCF he started working on getting some of his Team Tampa teammates to join him. That has people freaking out because, well, it's named Team Tampa, and they think Skip Holtz and his staff are getting run out of their own hometown.
1. It's pretty much impossible to dominate recruiting in your home town, especially in a talent-rich area like Tampa Bay. There was a really good post in the Tampa Bay Times' Home Team blog on Saturday about just how many local recruits there are this year -- over 100 players in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, and Hernando counties with FBS offers, from Vernon Hargreaves III all the way down to someone hoping to break through at a small program. And that was at the end of July, with six months to go before signing day and before a single snap has been taken this season. There are over 800 offers out there from nearly every team in the FBS.
USF has offers out to 32 of those players, more than any other school in the FBS. Even if every single one of them committed to the Bulls, they still couldn't take all of them without some dirty Sabanesque wheeling and dealing. It's inevitable that good players will play somewhere else. Either it's a more prestigious offer, or a different style of play, or a chance to play right away, or comfort with the coaches recruiting them, or any number of things. Having your coach say they want to put a fence up around their local area sounds great, but it's unrealistic and has been for a long time.
Quick side note. You know the famous "state of Miami" that the Hurricanes had set up back in the day? Watch the 30 For 30 documentary, "The U." That "state" was actually half of Florida, from Miami to Tampa to Daytona Beach. Even they didn't recruit exclusively in Miami, and there was a long time where the Canes could have gotten almost anyone they wanted.
2. Pete DiNovo committed to UCF after Asiantii Woulard had recommitted to USF. Put yourself in DiNovo's shoes. If he were to sign with the Bulls and then lost the QB battle to Woulard next year, he could be spending most or all of his college career on the bench. In Orlando, DiNovo has a much shorter wait before Blake Bortles leaves. He could even redshirt in 2013 and have the chance to be a three-year starter.
Another side note. This is the challenge USF will have in signing a second good QB prospect this year -- with Woulard's stock rising, they already know they may not get much playing time in green and gold.
3. No one seems to notice USF doing the same thing in the Orlando area that UCF is trying to do in Tampa. Woulard and D'Vario Montgomery played at Winter Park together. JoJo Kemp is from up the road in DeLand. James Hamiltonand Guito Ervilus are from Orlando. So are Max Lang, Darrell Williams, and Corian Hamilton from the 2011 class. Also Holtz has a secretary named O'Leary and O'Leary has a secretary named Holtz. The difference is one team has a couple of carnival barkers telling everyone how awesome it is that they're in ur base stealing ur doodz, while the other team is just getting commits and not carrying on about it.
4. And if USF finally has a 10-win season or something, no one will really care where everyone was recruited from. This just feels like a silly-season kind of debate that won't matter when the games start. Which can't happen soon enough.