USF TULANE GAME WEEK – NOVEMBER 20
By Leo Haggerty
Normally, I would be giving you the weekly recap of what transpired before and during as well as after the Bulls contest on the gridiron. Today, I’m going to call an audible and deviate from that template because I firmly believe it’s time to write an open letter to all South Florida football fans pertaining to the state of the USF football program.
First, let me get the particulars out of the way. The Green & Gold travelled to New Orleans to take on Tulane in a contest the Bulls felt was winnable.
Well, that thought lasted a grand total of one quarter. After taking the opening kickoff and moving out to an early 7-0 advantage, South Florida watched as the Green Wave proceeded to run 15 plays and drop four touchdowns on the Bulls in the first 15 minutes of play to take a 28-7 lead and the rout was on.
Tulane scored 45 unanswered points between two USF touchdowns in route to a 45-14 drubbing of the Bulls. The win moved the Green Wave to 2-9 on the season and 1-6 in the American Athletic Conference. The loss left the Green & Gold with identical 2-9 and 1-6 logs.
Now, with that out of the way, I need to point out to the South Florida football faithful a few salient and obvious points. Trust me, these will not be pretty but need to be brought to your attention.
First, for those fans that are starting to question the hiring of Jeff Scott as the head coach, the problem is not the coaching. Nick Saban could be the head coach and the results would be the same and let me elaborate on that.
When Jeff Scott was hired in January of 2020 to replace Charlie Strong, the USF football program was a dumpster fire. The expectations heading into the 2019 were high but the Bulls crashed and burned finishing with a 4-8record and, as we found out earlier this year, there were some improprieties occurring as well.
Scott had a great resume coming from two-time National Champion Clemson as the Offensive Coordinator. He also had ties to Florida as that was his predominant recruiting territory. From the outset, it looked like USF Athletic Director Michael Kelly had the right guy.
All of that changed in March of 2020 when Covid reared its ugly head. That completely derailed recruiting from that point forward and the coaching staff had to recruit players sight unseen to a season that was seriously in doubt.
The 2020 season was a catastrophe. Spring practice was cancelled and fall practice was curtailed considerably plus the season was moved back two weeks.
After an opening night win over The Citadel in an empty Raymond James Stadium, the season went downhill in a hurry. Players that tested positive for Covid or were deemed to be in close contact were forced into quarantine and that happened in droves. Practices were severely limited and having enough players to compete was always a challenge as well as the cancellation completely of some tilts.
The 2020 season has been a little better but not much. Yes, every collegiate football program had to deal with the pandemic but only a select few had to experience it with an entirely new coaching staff. While other teams soldiered on, the Bulls were just trying to gather the troops.
A very ambitious early season schedule in 2020 didn’t help. Also, a very heavy back loaded conference schedule for degree of difficulty didn’t do the Bulls any favors either.
With all that being said, it’s time to admit that the rebuild of the football program, due to the Covid restrictions and protocols, will take at least three more years before the Bulls will be in the conversation for a conference title. These last two season, 1-8 in 2020 and 3-9 at best in 2021, were just a matter of survival.
That’s assuming that the powers that be at South Florida don’t become impatient and fire Scott. They must accept the inevitable that next year will continue to be baby steps. Four wins would be showing improvement and any more would be icing on the cake.
USF fans, this takes time. It just doesn’t happen overnight. With a legitimate spring practice along with a summer where the football staff can run a “summer camp” for prospective recruits plus a new group of recruits to add depth especially on defense, the Bulls will be better.
Here’s hoping the Bulls faithful will understand this takes time. Stay the course and deal with the adversity now. If they do, USF will reap the benefits in the future. If they don’t, it’s back to square one and that’s not a pretty picture.