South Florida Bulls Football Details
While most of the schools the South Florida Bulls will play will have generations of fans, the Bulls do not. Located in Tampa, Florida, the school did not have a program until 1997. The team’s first meeting with its first head coach, Jim Leavitt, took place under a shade tree because they did not have a football facility yet on campus.
After four years of being a good (but not great) Division I-AA (FCS) team, the Bulls moved up to the I-A level (now FBS). They remained an independent for a couple of years before joining Conference-USA in 2003. That affiliation only lasted two seasons (2003 and 2004). In 2005, they joined the Big East which later became the American Athletic Conference in 2013.
The team has yet to win a conference title and has only finished a season ranked once (2016; No. 19). Since the team’s inception, it has only had six losing seasons; four of which came following the departure of the team’s first head coach in 2009.
Skip Holtz kept the team on the right track during his first season (2009), but the team slipped in his second to 5-7 and even further in his third and final season in 2012 (3-9).
Holtz’s departure led to the hiring of Willie Taggart. It took him a couple of seasons (2-10 in 2013 and 4-8 in 2014), but he succeeded in getting the time back on track. In his third season (2015), he guided them to an 8-5 record but finished the season with a loss to Western Kentucky in the Miami Beach Bowl.
Last season, after guiding the team to a 10-2 regular season record, Taggart was offered the head coaching job at Oregon (which he took).
This coming season will be the team’s first under new head coach Charlie Strong. While the offense lost hard-hitting running back Marlon Mack to the NFL’s Colts, it returns with quarterback Quinton Flowers, three offensive linemen, tight end Mitchell Wilcox and two good wide receivers in Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Tyre McCants.
Flowers will power the running game until the team finds a new lead running back. To keep him out of harm’s way, the team may look to pass more which will mean someone will have the opportunity to step up.
Where the Bulls may have some trouble is on defense. Strong brought his former linebackers coach from Texas over to take charge of a defense that gave up a lot of yards last season. While the team’s leading tackler, linebacker Auggie Sanchez, is back, he does not have many experienced players helping him out this season.
It remains to be seen what kind of team Charlie Strong is going to produce this season, but one thing is for sure. The 65,000+ fans packing Raymond James Stadium on Game Day will have plenty of reasons to cheer.