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The Decade Stampede: So Why Did I Do This In The First Place?

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USF absolutely needed a blog, and I’ve had a blast doing it. But with all the disappointment USF has given... would I have been better off doing something else with the last 10 years of my life?

The people that fly across the country to Vegas for a women’s basketball tournament in December: this is why I love USF. And this blog brought me so much closer to all of them.

Here’s what I don’t regret:

The friends I’ve made because of this slice of the internet. I bleed green and gold as much as anyone, and worked in the same offices I ended up covering. It has been a privilege and an honor to get to interact with all the coaches, athletes, staff, and most importantly our fans. People still recognize me at USF things sometimes (I think it’s the gray hair), and all of you could not be nicer. We wrote some words on a website, but the community was built by those that shared and engaged with it online and offline. For that we are forever grateful.

I would not trade the humans involved for anything, because if you truly love the USF Bulls, you are are by definition good people as you accept those around you wholly and without judgement even when they continually fail you. This is a program that was very easy to love, and then stopped being that right around the 2011 season. Coincidentally, we started this blog a year earlier. Clearly, it’s all our fault.

To be fair, none of the above applies to Skip Holtz. He stole money. F that guy.

I will always believe USF is a special place filled with special people, and the underdog characteristics of the department when I was in undergrad and an early employee were downright adorable. We always did more with less, and it made the wins feel better and the losses hurt less. Once you’re nine years down the road in the Big East however, having been promised sunshine and roses but ending up with mostly the fertilizer, it can be tough to realize that you’ve given so much of your heart, soul, time and money to a program that has consistently underperformed.

But there’s really only been one thing since we’ve been doing this that brought me true joy: the 2012 NCAA Tournament. When it ended, I wasn’t even sad. For a guy that grew up loving basketball way more than college football, only to have that flip as I got older and due to where I chose to get a degree, it was magical. Those Big East Tournaments at MSG were incredible for me, even though it took us way too long to win a game in one of them.

And in typical USF fashion, that miracle season happened with the home games played at UTampa and in Amalie Arena due to Sun Dome construction, so as many people that could have become the next generation of green-and-gold-bleeders missed them as possible. And last year was the first season the Bulls have been over .500 since.

There have been other successes along the way. The Women’s College World Series and the men’s golf team making the quarterfinals come to mind first. Women’s basketball has been a consistent bright spot, and getting UConn out of the paint will finally and mercifully give them a chance to hang some conference champion banners.

But no team winning a conference championship, tournament or regular season, in football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, or baseball since 1995 is almost statistically impossible. And yet here we are. The pain and heartache is tangible, because it’s been so prevalent. And it only hurts worse because once the Big East came calling, we were promised the world.

I started a new job with the same people that own this blog four days ago. It’s really fun and I can’t believe I’m getting to write about my dual loves of college sports and gambling for a living. That never happens without this place. I got plenty of freelance writing work because this doubled as a billboard for people that wanted to hire me. It also got me well-networked around Tampa, and helped me land my last full-time gig as well. So for my personal professional development, I absolutely can’t complain.

But today, on the date of our 10th anniversary, I honestly can’t help but wonder... did I do the right thing by putting so much of my heart and soul and life into this project? Would it have been better spent somewhere else? Where else would I be in my life if not for this?

The answers I come up with are both good and bad. I mean it when I say I’ve never been more optimistic about the future of this program, because we finally hired the perfect fit in Michael Kelly. Any AD that does this not only gets my vote, he gets what is needed by USF Athletics to grow and overcome the sins of the past.

But with the fog lifted due to a bit of time away, I just wonder about the choices I made. I don’t have regrets... but I do have some questions.

And those are questions I can find answers to by talking to the best people I’ve ever met and will ever meet: those that love the Bulls just as much as I do. Because the choices I made in people I will never regret at all.