Time To Start Respecting The Bulls

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Four years ago, if I were to tell you that the USF Bulls are the underdog to crash the BCS party, you’d think I’m crazy. Well, what do you think now?

The year was 2013–We Are Young by the band known as Fun would soon be the song of the year. The Boston Red Sox would be winning the World Series against the St.Louis Cardinals in 6 games the following month, and the USF Bulls were about to embark on a college football season that most fans expected to¬†feel like absolute rock bottom.

The Bulls were brand new members of the American Athletic Conference (AAC) that year, and to add even more to the transition, Willie Taggert was a first year coach. The Bulls would go on to finish 2-10 that season, carrying an unimpressive 2-6 record within the league.

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Questions quickly began to arise about whether or not making the move to the AAC was the right decision (The Bulls were playing in the Big East prior to making the move). The Bulls were a laughing stock in the state of Florida, and nobody truly felt that a turnaround was in the cards.

Fast forward 4 years later, and we arrive to the upcoming 2017 season. The Bulls have made strides in the right direction every season since the disaster that was 2013.

Willie Taggert turned the program around the right way–he recruited well and changed the culture of the program. He convinced his players that they could compete on the national stage, and just because they play in the state of Florida along with the likes of perennial powerhouses Florida St, Florida, and Miami–they could still be relevant.

The players deserve a ton of credit as well. It is one thing for a coach to try to build up a program with strong rhetoric, and it is another for the players to buy in to those words.

4 years later, the Bulls are reaping the rewards of their hard work. The team will have to deal with the loss of coach Taggert (He will be leading Oregon this year), but new coach Charlie Strong has a similar personality and work ethic as his predecessor. This should make for a smooth transition.

The 2017 version of the USF Bulls is one that can threaten to crash the BCS party as a non-power 5 conference team. They come into the season ranked 21st in the country.

They are blessed to have a quarterback in Quinton Flowers, who is a dark horse Heisman candidate. Last season, Flowers ran for over 1,500 yards and 18 TD’s while throwing for over 2,500 yards and 24 TD’s. He is the definition of a dual threat quarterback.

The team is deeper than just there star quarterback. Sophomore running back Tevon Sands should wreck havoc on AAC defenses, and wide receivers Marquez Scantling and Tyre McCants will provide Flowers with explosive targets.

The Bulls defense did graduate their fair share of starters, but Middle Linebacker and leading tackler Auggie Sanchez returns to anchor this defense. If the Bulls score as many points as they should, the defense will have time to ease into the season.

The schedule falls in the Bulls favor as well. The toughest road test on paper for the Bulls will come in the last week of the regular season, when they have to travel to UCF. UCF has made strides of their own the last two seasons, but they are not ready to defeat their in-state rival.

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On the other hand, coach Strong’s team arguably plays their four toughest games of the season at home. ( 9/15- Illinois, 9/21 – Temple, 11/4- Houston, and 11/18- Tulsa). With a schedule like this, the Bulls have a great chance to enter the AAC championship–either undefeated or one loss at the best. From there, anything can happen.

Sure, lots can happen between now and January. Could the Bulls sustain injuries that cause them to fall back and not meet expectations? Sure. Could Strong’s team succumb to the pressure of being a win now team and finish 8-4? Maybe. The fact that we are talking about USF and a possible major bowl bid this year is incredible within its own right.

The days of USF being the doormat of the AAC, and the laughing stock of the state of Florida, are over. It is time for Bulls faithful to sit back and enjoy the season, and the magic carpet ride that could lead to crashing the BCS party.

Time to respect the bull!


About Brian Trapani

Brian Trapani was born and raised in Central New Jersey and now lives in Monmouth County. As a kid, he played different sports but had a special love for baseball. Brian played the game through college. He got immediately into coaching after graduating and has been coaching in some capacity for the last 15 years. Brian currently coaches a middle school baseball team at a small school down the Jersey Shore. He also works as a Special Education Teacher. Beyond coaching, Brian loves all sports. He’ll watch any game at any time. His favorites are baseball (of course) and football. He also loves sharing his passion for sports through writing. Brian appreciates any and all feedback about his sportswriting, whether it’s positive or negative. Happy reading, sports fans! (Oh, almost forgot…. Brian is also a proud first-time uncle and godfather to a beautiful 7-month baby girl. :)

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