Former USF football player and recent USF MBA graduate Tre Griffin made an interesting observation on Twitter over the weekend:
USF Athletics is probably at its highest point in history. Top-25 caliber teams in 6 sports.— Trevon Griffin (@TreGriffSEM) May 13, 2017
Those sports (I think) are football, baseball, women’s basketball, men’s golf, men’s tennis, and women’s soccer. Add in men’s soccer and softball, which had down years from their usual high standards, and sailing, which isn’t an NCAA sport but cracked the top 20 of the sailing rankings this past fall, that’s nine high-quality programs out of 17 sports. And that doesn’t even count women’s tennis, who struggled through the regular season but then rose up to reach the NCAA Tournament.
We tried to think of another time when this many sports were this good... but we think Tre is right. It’s easiest to compare by thinking of the best teams each sport has had, and then seeing how the rest of the programs were faring.
- 2007-08: Football was arguably as good as it’s ever been, and men’s soccer made it to the last 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Women’s basketball had not quite reached the heights it would reach later, while men’s basketball struggled in Stan Heath’s first season. Baseball was pretty mediocre, softball was in between dominant eras, and no other sports were as good as they would become later.
- 1995-96: Probably USF’s best baseball team ever. No football yet. Both basketball teams were tragic. Softball made an NCAA appearance in Hildred Deese’s final season in charge. Volleyball was in the middle of its best stretch ever. The soccer teams were just OK.
- 2011-12: This might be the closest competitor. Men’s basketball, men’s soccer, and softball had their best teams ever. (The last two gave us maybe the most dramatic sporting events ever held on campus.) Women’s basketball played in the WNIT. Baseball had a pretty good season. Football, however, was massively disappointing, volleyball was bad enough to see their coach let go, and men’s golf had not yet become the juggernaut it was about to be.
- 2013-14: USF’s best women’s basketball team ever. Too bad football and men’s basketball stunk on ice, while other usually successful programs faltered as well. Doug Woolard was fired in the middle of this season.
There may be some other years where the Bulls had across the board success that we haven’t thought of (1982? 1986?) but we don’t think that there’s ever been as many teams as good as they are right now. It’s a huge credit to Mark Harlan and his collection of coaches and players.