We're over it.
For the last four and a half years, we've documented the precipitous fall of USF Athletics in excruciatingly painful detail. We've left no stone unturned, examining the how and the why behind what can only be described as a massive fall from grace. The Bulls were always known for coming up just a bit short when it mattered, but the last decade has been particularly filled with enough pain and ennui to last multiple generations.
Most of the blame can be attributed to mismanagement, hubris, incompetence, and a general lack of sweat equity. USF didn't sell itself enough to a community that hadn't bought all the way in yet. It didn't work hard enough. It rested on laurels, light though they were, and thought the collegiate athletic gods would hand them their birthright via being the only D-1 game in town in the 12th largest media market. Whoops.
It was an exercise in failure of basically all aspects of athletics administration sans graduating student-athletes and avoiding scandal. Those are important, but if that's the demarkation of success it's still far short of what should be. The football team is basically starting over from scratch. The men's basketball team too. Students are still directly footing 40% of our athletics budget via a tuition tax. The fan base can politely be described as skeptical and disengaged.
There's a new sheriff in town in Mark Harlan, and he ain't playing. Check the roster moves he's made if you don't believe us. Willie Taggart pulled in the #1 recruiting class in our conference. Orlando Antigua is going to get top-flight kids to start playing basketball here. The programs that have had consistent successes (men's soccer, women's basketball, softball) continue to charge along as points of pride, and new ones are being added each year (both tennis programs winning the AAC Tournament this year, men's golf picking up an NCAA berth). We hit rock bottom as a program. Now it's time to start to bounce higher than ever.
The corner has been turned. It's time to burn and bury the past, so that's what we're going to do. Literally.
All summer long we'll recount some of the most painful moments in USF history. Think of it as therapy: you need to talk through and work through the painful memories to help deal with them. We'll recount many of the disasters of the past (the Rutgers illegal forward propulsion game, the Voodoo Five game, the Homecoming disaster against Army, McNeese State, The Big 4 Billboard, The Jobey Thomas Game, The Matt Bonner Game... you get the idea), and then we're going to put them behind us. How?
By physically burning every relevant item we can get our hands on, and having a voodoo priestess take the curse away forever.
We plan on turning this into a party, and will ask you to bring the painful mementos of years gone by with you to sacrifice on our altar. Game program from the Sun Bowl? Bring it. Ticket stub from McNeese State last year? Bring it. A picture of Diego Guevara blowing kisses to the crowd? Turn it into tinder. A Zach Collaros jersey? That too.
We're in the process of picking a location, and our planned date is just before football season begins. There will be food and booze, and we'll work to get some USF celebrities out there too. It will also be a chance to get everyone together before the season starts.... think of it as a block party to celebrate the demise of our cursed history, and one we can celebrate together.
Need some refreshers on some of the low points and things you might have around the house? Here's a partial list we've put together:
* McNeese State '13
* Rutgers '07
* C. Florida '13 #NEVERFORGETNEVERAGAIN
* Army '04
* Liberty '98
* Sun Bowl
* Syracuse '12
* Any Rutgers game basically
* UConn '05 (the Voodoo Five game)
* UConn '07
* UConn '09
* Cincinnati '07
* The Zach Collaros Game
* Western Kentucky '98 (maybe Taggart has some stuff he's willing to sacrifice since he played in that game)
* Hofstra '98
* Any game Skip Holtz gave away
* Not getting into a bowl in 2002 (maybe bring C-USA stuff to burn in its place)
* TCU '03
* UF '01
* Marquette '06
* Anything related to Jobey Thomas and/or Diego Guevara
* Anything related to Seth Greenberg and February
* Leading Georgetown in the NCAA's with like 8 min left in '92
* The Jawanza hanging on the rim T against Ohio at NCAA's in '12
* Getting (Brian) Wardled in '99
* The game against VCU in the Metro years where USF was up by like 100 points in the second half and lost
* UConn '08 (the Craig Austrie buzzer-beater)
* Chucky Atkins' missed FTs at Marquette in the 1995 NIT
* The 2010 NIT game where everyone lost their freaking minds at the end and NC State won
* Florida in the NCAA's in '02 (horrible no-call cost them the first set, the momentum, and the Sweet 16)
* The UCLA Super Regional in '06 (hit a rocket with the bases loaded and nobody out, turned into a DP)
* FSU '14 since they got every freaking call last weekend, including a play at the plate where we were CLEARLY SAFE and ALL THE NEVINS BS ILLEGAL PITCHES
* Penn State '01 (lost in triple OT for a spot in the College Cup/Final Four)
* Creighton '11 (lost on golden goal the day after a snowstorm for a spot in the College Cup/Final Four)
* The Comeback vs. Louisville 2004 (6 run lead in the 9th, winner goes to the conference tournament, we lose)
* The 1996 team that got screwed in the regional at Gainesville on like three horrendous calls
* The 7-0 lead over UConn in the conference tournament in 2013
* Memphis last week
* The UF Tuesday night loss in '07 (Matt LaPorta's home run)
* The Big 4 Billboard
* A Holtz New Era
* Our Vote of Confidence in John Marinatto press release
Specific items we really want:
* A copy of that book Bill McGillis used to give everyone authored by Bob Beaudine of search firm Eastman & Beaudine
* The Leavitt incident report (unredacted if possible - I mean if it's getting burned anyway why not)
* That mural on the Sun Dome wall that doesn't know when the first football game was
* The misspelled commemorative trophy we gave Justin Brockhaus-Kann
* The big fake Capital One Mascot Challenge check
* The Rutgers flag from the Sun Dome rafters
* A Brett McMurphy USF press credential (we will ask Brett directly)
* Copies of Skip Holtz, Stan Heath, and Doug Woolard's contract extensions (all dated the SAME DAY in June '13)
* My Letter of Admonishment from the NCAA for proofreading Greg Brittain's term paper which I found out later he didn't write
In the comments below, tell us about your interest in joining us for something like this, and what items you'd be willing to sacrifice. And please help us add to the list above with your most painful USF memories. You've got to confront the past to face the future, and that's what we want to do.
We also need a logo for this. Whatever reader can create the best one, we'll have a big 'ole prize for you at the event
This should start to give us an idea of how big a thing we can make out of this. Also if you know happen to know a licensed voodoo priestess, holler at us because we're going to find one but if they were a Bulls fan too that would be stellar.
Join us on this journey. We need our readers to be a part of this to make it great, and have an event to remember. An event that hopefully begins a new dawn for USF Athletics.