By Leo Haggerty


Had a chance to Zoom in on the joint announcement by the University of South Florida Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly along with Head Football Coach Jeff Scott on the Phase 1 building program for athletics.  It’s rather ambition as you will see.

It will be a two-part project.  The first, which will begin at the close of Spring Football practice at the end up March, will be an upgrade to the Lee Roy Selmon Athletics Center.  The renovation will include a state-of-the-art football locker room along with a combination recreation along with a study area plus a lounge.  This is projected to be completed by August when the team returns for Fall practice.

The second part of the Phase 1 initiative is the construction of an Indoor Performance Facility.  This will give South Florida a full length football field out of the reach of Mother Nature and, if you’ve ever been in Tampa in August and September, lightning and torrential rain are a significant problem.  The opening of that edifice is expected to be in August of 2022.

I asked both Kelly and Scott the same question that you see below.  Their answer was significantly different because of their perspective on my query.  Enjoy.

LH : This question is for both of you.  Some of us were in Tampa when the University Kansas came to Raymond James Stadium and there were 60,000 plus fans packing the facility.  Mike, did the fact that this has already happened help in raising money and, Coach, does it help in recruiting that this already occurred and it’s not something you have to envision happening?

MK :  Obviously, Leo, Coach Scott coined a phrase last year that “You have 2 start to finish” and the reason he had the number 2 in there was that we had a program that had already risen to #2 before.  Also, we have a program that’s won 150 games faster than any other program in the state of Florida.  Obviously, we have been competitive for many, many years.  We’ve gone to 10 bowl games.  So, a lot of success but when you see and get a taste of what you had before, the opportunity is there right now.  We can go out and win the American and then challenge for a bigger bowl berth.  In fact, I’ve very excited about the prospect of the College Football Playoff expanding in the future.  So, the scheduling that we’re doing and the facilities that we’re doing is in line to where we want to be.  Having had a taste of what we had before is great but it’s really a matter of preparing for the future.

JS : What I would say is that we’ve seen before that this community will support South Florida athletics and our football program.  They want to support a winner, right?  I just shared my goal with Michael and President Currall and that was to build a program that can have sustainable success.  Not just one good year and then a really bad year and then, two years later, another good year.  I want to really get the buy in from our community and our fans.  We have to have consistency in our program.  You have to have consistency in winning games.  Also, you have to have some big premier games that they want to come out and see.  Look at our schedule next year.  We have the University of Florida coming over here to play us in Tampa.  I’m really hoping that the protocols for safety will allow us to have fans, and a lot of fans, in the stands because I think we’re going to have that opportunity.  What I’m telling our players is that we are going to have our opportunity to show the people in the Bay Area that they would be excited to come out and support us.  But, we have to be ready when that opportunity is here.  We have to be ready so this is our time, right now, to kind of go under in the submarine, if you will, and really improve as a roster and as a football team.  I have no doubt that we can have success on the field.  You can see many examples like the Bucs and the Tampa Bay Lightning.  There’s a lot of examples to see what has happened in the past with our program.  To follow up with what Michael said earlier, I am a big believer in that anything that has happened once can happen again.  You just can’t sit and look at the last three or four or five years.  You really have to look at the potential of what’s ahead of us.  That’s one of the things that attracted me to Tampa Bay and to the University of South Florida was the potential.  We are the only college football team here in Tampa and it’s a place that loves their sports.  There’s definitely room for a college football team and to be supported in a big way and I have a big dream of that happening in the near future.