Report this image
The USF Bulls football team represents the University of South Florida in the sport of American football. The Bulls compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the American Athletic Conference (The American). The team plays its home games in Tampa, Florida. The Bulls began playing in 1997, holding their first team meeting under a shade tree as the school had no proper football facilities on campus.
After a period of turmoil in the conference during the early 2010s led to a formal conference split along football lines in 2013, the FBS schools in the original Big East, including South Florida, will reorganize as The American Athletic Conference effective in July 2013.
Jim Leavitt, previously the defensive coordinator at Kansas State, was hired as the team's first head coach.
After competing their first four years as a Division I-AA (now Division I FCS) independent, the Bulls moved to Division I-A, now Division I FBS, in 2001 but remained independent. They joined Conference USA in 2003 until becoming a member of the Big East Conference in 2005.
The Bulls' starting quarterback for the 2007 South Florida Bulls football team was sophomore Matt Grothe, who was awarded the Big East Rookie of the Year award in 2006 after being the most productive freshman in total offense with 258.5 yards per game. South Florida was also home to defensive end George Selvie, who was named the school's first Consensus All-American in 2007. South Florida received increased press coverage for their upsets of Top 25 ranked teams such as West Virginia (in 2006 and 2007), Louisville (in 2005) and Auburn (in 2007) and Florida State (2009). The 2007 football season marked their first ascent into the AP Poll, first placing at #23, rising to #18 in Week 4, jumping to #6 after the win against West Virginia, rising one more spot to #5 in week 6 after a victory over FAU, and jumping 3 more spots to #2 with 11 first place votes after beating UCF. The Bulls' high ranking was short lived, as South Florida lost its next 3 games and tumbled out of the rankings. However, the Bulls rebounded towards the end of the season, finishing the regular season ranked #21 in the BCS standings and #23 in the AP poll. Following their final regular season game, they faced unranked Oregon in the Brut Sun Bowl. Oregon defeated the Bulls by the score of 56-21, in which USF set a Sun Bowl record for most points allowed to an opponent. USF was dropped from the national rankings in both the AP Top 25 and USA Today polls following the loss in this bowl game.
USF won its first bowl game in its second bowl appearance with a victory over former Conference USA rivals, East Carolina on December 23, 2006 in the Papajohns.com Bowl. The previous year, USF lost to NC State in the Bulls' first-ever bowl appearance, the 2005 Meineke Car Care Bowl.
Leavitt remained as the team's head coach throughout this period. He was fired on January 8, 2010 after an investigation revealed that during halftime of a game against Louisville, he grabbed a player by the shoulder pads and struck him across the face two times. The investigation also claimed that Leavitt interfered with the investigation by telling several coaches and players to change their stories. Leavitt maintains he never struck the player, but was merely trying to console him, and after a wrongful termination suit against USF, the school eventually settled with Leavitt for $2.75 million. Leavitt went on to serve as linebackers coach for the San Francisco 49ers, which in his first season as an NFL coach, 2011, reached the NFC Championship for the first time since 1997 and reached the Super Bowl in 2012.
On January 14, 2010, Skip Holtz was hired away from East Carolina and named the team's second head coach. USF declined in Holtz's tenure, going 8-5, 5-7 and 3-9 in his three seasons. His firing from USF was announced by Doug Woolard on December 2, 2012 after 3 seasons. Holtz was subsequently hired by Louisiana Tech as its new head coach.
On December 8, 2012, USF announced that Willie Taggart will be the third head football coach in USF football history. He previously coached at Western Kentucky. The Bulls struggled in Taggart's first year, posting a 2-10 record.