University Of South Florida Bulls
Let's face it, the University of South Florida is a young university, and students, faculty, and alumni have already established traditions and celebrations that have become part of their culture. USF has spent the first half of the 21st century with a history that feels more like an old college football story than a modern sports story. After reaching the Big East in 2005 and winning a nationally televised game less than half a decade after her first hit, she switched the athletic department to cruise control. The Bulls did everything they could to annoy UCF during that time, putting it down the pecking order with their own ingenuity and winning four games in its first four years (2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007).
UCF became the first team to eliminate the Bulls in Tampa in 2014. The Bulls, ranked 18th in the world, played in Orlando against the number 5 - the West Virginia Mountaineers, who are the largest USF home crowd at FSU Seminoles with more than 2,000.
UCF won the AAC championship and the Peach Bowl en route to the national championship. The victory helped the Bulls earn their first-ever appearance in a bowl game and a spot in the College Football Playoffs.
The Bulls' ranking was short - but they have lost their next three games and have plummeted in the rankings. USF dropped out of the national rankings after the loss, but they were still the only program ranked second at any point during the season. No team in Florida should ever have a triple-digit recruiting class, and the 101st national USF ranking in 2020 is partly due to the absence of a top 100 recruiting class in Florida State in recent years.
The hope is to harness the energy and winning culture of Jeff Scott and his coaching staff and feed it into a program that desperately needs it. The same Jeff Scott who helped the Clemson Tigers on their way to winning their first two national championships. When Scott was last on the sideline at Raymond James Stadium, he coached the Tigers to a 21-point comeback in the final seconds to beat the Alabama Crimson Tide and win their second national championship in three years.
The 13th consecutive loss gave the Bulls their first loss of the season and their worst record in school history. New athletic director Michael Kelly has brought in a new head coach and offensive coordinator to bring USF back to a relative level with UCF. South Florida has won one trophy in the last three seasons under Scott, the Sun Belt Conference Championship in 2010, but that was the team's only win against a top-10 opponent in 2015 and its first win against a top-10 team in 2016.
The Bulls "first coach saw them that night in Piscataway, and it was during Leavitt's time at USF that he made a name for himself as someone who could potentially become the next head coach in the history of South Florida football. As I said above, I'm a big fan of his coaching style and his familiarity with recruiting at Florida State. Is a plus. A native of Harlingen, Texas, he is known for having a great ability to recruit in his home state, where high school football is king.
If you're a UCF fan, you'll know how big it is to get this, but in all likelihood, next Friday, they'll erase the memory of their loss to Florida State in Piscataway and even forget the series until Friday in Tampa. Getting five wins here will be difficult because I have this game on my calendar for the rest of the year and I bring everything I have.
Since the Bulls joined the Big East in 2005, fans in South Florida have used the line as small talk for UCF fans. Bulls beat writer Joey Knight wrote, "This is gon na happen," and something in the ether tipped the rivalry from one side - in favor of South Florida.
When USF first tried to choose a mascot in 1961, it considered a number of options, from Florida chickens to who does everything right. Ultimately, the students felt that Florida was a cattle-raising state like Texas and they needed a mascot like the Texas Longhorns.
When all was said and done, the Golden Brahman was unveiled and appointed the USF mascot, and remained the school's mascot until the late 1970s, a successful run of about 20 years that ended in 1982 when they changed their nickname to Bulls. The Buccaneers won and overcame a junior college in Pensacola that was supposed to have the same mascot but was defeated. Rocky started out in 1965 as an idea for a toy in the USF bookstore and was drawn in a cartoon used in US FBS athletics newsletters.