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The Ultimate USF Football Tournament: Final Four

Flowers. Mack. Selvie. Grothe. Who’s making it to the final?

Elite Eight results:

(1) Quinton Flowers d. (2) Kawika Mitchell, 84-16%
(1) Marlon Mack d. (2) Jason Pierre-Paul, 87-13%
(1) George Selvie d. (2) Marquel Blackwell, 66-34%
(1) Matt Grothe d. (2) Mike Jenkins, 77-23%

Pretty decisive victories for the 1-seeds here, though Jenkins had an early lead on Grothe before the QB pulled away. Blackwell fell into an early hole against Selvie and couldn’t make up the difference.

A note on the seeding, because I’ve received a few complaints: when I put this tournament together, I tried to organize it by the general fan consensus on each player and how I thought they would do in the tournament, rather than how I thought they should do. That leads to better-than-expected seeds for players with big places in USF lore like Ben Moffitt, and worse-than-expected seeds for players who were tremendous but endured tough times at USF, like B.J. Daniels. This does not mean I adore Moffitt or hate B.J. or anything, just that I figured USF fans would vote for a player like the former over a player like the latter. Seeing as the four #1 seeds all made it to the finals, I’m quite pleased with the seeds.

But enough chatter. Let’s dive into the Final Four, which gives us two matchups that might be the toughest choices of the entire bracket thus far. Below, you can find an edited transcript of Jamie, Collin and I discussing our votes, as well as the ballot. We’ll keep this one open for 48 hours. Enjoy, and vote wisely!

(1) Quinton Flowers vs. (1) Marlon Mack

Flowers’ path:
Defeated #16 Mike Ford, 100-0%
Defeated #8 Marvin Kloss, 98-2%
Defeated #5 Andre Davis, 92-8%
Defeated #2 Kawika Mitchell, 84-16%

Mack’s path:
Defeated #16 Evan Landi, 97-3%
Defeated #8 Jerome Murphy, 96-4%
Defeated #4 Anthony Henry, 90-10%
Defeated #2 Jason Pierre-Paul, 87-13%

(1) George Selvie vs. (1) Matt Grothe

Selvie’s path:
Defeated #16 Sean Price, 99-1%
Defeated #8 Jacquian Williams, 98-2%
Defeated #4 Rodney Adams, 83-17%
Defeated #2 Marquel Blackwell, 66-34%

Grothe’s path:
Defeated #16 Mattias Ciabatti, 96-4%
Defeated #9 Mistral Raymond, 98-2%
Defeated #5 B.J. Daniels, 79-21%
Defeated #2 Mike Jenkins, 73-27%

Let’s discuss:

Ryan: How are we feeling about these matchups/the tournament as a whole?

Jamie: If Grothe wins this tournament, it's another data point in my stance that you never let anyone vote for stuff on the Internet.

R: Grothe definitely isn't the most talented USF player, but I can't fault people for him being their favorite.

J: It's a "let's latch on to these halcyon days and clutch them close to our bosoms" thing. If Quinton Flowers was the QB in 2007, everyone wouldhave the same emotional attachment to him.

R: You taking Selvie over him then?

J: Well, no. The two best players are on the other side of the bracket. If we did 20 for 20 again, Quinton Flowers has a serious case for #1, and Mack would not be far behind (yes, I'd pick Q over Mack).

R: That is a really tough one for me. I think I'm leaning Flowers; the program really didn't pick up again until they built the offense around him.

J: I find it fascinating that the two pillars of the 2007 and 2016 teams are going to face off in each semifinal.

R: Oh, that's very interesting. I'm of the opinion that the 2007 team was way better than the 2016 team, but I think Flowers and Mack are the two best players on the board here. Anyway, why Grothe over Selvie?

J: Selvie had a speed rush and that was all; once teams adjusted to that, he wasn't that great.

R: But he was transcendent in 2007, plus he eventually adjusted and had a nice NFL career for himself. Grothe was wonderful, but at no point could I say that he was a Top 5 QB in the nation— let alone Top 15, really.

J: I'd have to add up how much damage he did in the first 6 games of that season, because I bet 75% of it was then. Like, he KILLED Elon and C. Not so much Rutgers and Oregon.

R: Any players who got totally hosed by the USF fanbase?

J: Basically anyone from earlier than 2004.

Collin: How overlooked D-Rube and Blackwell are. Just indefensible.

R: I thought Reiter over Barnhardt was the most flagrant.

J: That was awful. Hugh Smith got hosed, but not as bad as Barnhardt. That was criminal. Shurron Pierson kind of got hosed, but that's probably it.

R: Also, DeDe should not have lost in the first round.

J: But losing to D'Ernest is defensible. D'Ernest is probably the most versatile player in USF history.

R: After this season, I think it will be. I was surprised B.J. didn't pull more of the vote against Grothe.


R: Anyway, to the final four. Are we unanimous on Q over Mack? I almost feel like Mack is a better player, but it was Q, not Mack, who turned USF around.

C: Not sure we're unanimous on that. Mack has an elite skill in making people miss... what's Q's elite skill? Durability?

R: Also making people miss. For an unnatural quarterback, he's also a sublime decision maker. He takes care of the ball unbelievably well.

C: Yeah, he somehow doesn't throw picks when he makes bad throws, usually because the throws are so off no one can get them. And we're going to find out this year how much of that box was open because of the threat of #5. This almost deserves an incomplete grade.

R: You're not wrong. In another offense, Mack gets 300 carries and runs for 2,000 yards. But that wasn't this offense.

J: Flowers’ decisions on reads and options never get their due. He does fantastically there. And his passing is so much better than it was. I was at his first game and I think I could have thrown better passes than he did.

R: He was horrendous. It’s unreal how far he’s come as a passer.

C: He was throwing darts at the practice I saw.

R: That makes me feel things. Who do you have in Grothe-Selvie, Collin?

J: I'd have to go back and find the votes, but I think Collin had Selvie almost at the bottom of his 15 for 15 ballot.

C: I'm going Grothe, but only because he played a more important position, and Selvie regressed his senior year.

R: I don't think a USF football player has ever been better than Selvie in the first half of 2007. Key part of that sentence is “in the first half of 2007.”

J: In a way, Grothe’s legacy was preserved by wrecking his knee and not trying to get a 6th year. If he'd been the QB in 2009 and USF went 7-5 again, he'd probably be lower in people's estimation. Sort of like the rocker who dies young before his magic disappears.

C: Grothe had some bad games in 2007 too. Oregon and Cincinnati the worst of them, and he wasn't great at Rutgers either.

R: Grothe really had sublime moments rather than games. Apart from Kansas in ‘08, I can't remember a game where he was unstoppable. Cuse in ‘06 maybe, but like, Syracuse.

J: He does get points for vengeance against C. The two close games he was in against them had nothing to do with his performances.

C: The one thing USF couldn't do when they signed those 4 games with C. was lose one. He didn't lose one.