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Incomplete pages keep USF sites from shining

By GREG AUMAN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 23, 2002

For the second time in a year, South Florida unveiled a new look for its official site last week. The new gousfbulls.com, like the university's football team, shows signs of promise but is largely a work in progress.

A common problem with new versions of old sites is they are hardly complete when unveiled. It's as if someone moved into a beautiful new home but insisted on inviting everyone over before anything was unpacked.

You're left to judge things based on how you think they would look if they were there. The football page, for example, has an active link to 2002 stats, an understandably blank page, but there is no link to last year's stats or game-by-game results.

It is somewhat unfair to compare USF's site to bigger, more established state schools. Also, Tampa's TW Creative Communications, owned by a USF alumnus and booster, is producing the site free. In comparing USF's site with, for example, ucfathletics.com, it's not apples and oranges so much as apples and oranges USF has decided it does not need to pay for.

Both sites are free for fans, though, so USF really is paying the difference in what it's getting. Click on the football coaches page for USF and you get a list of names and their tenure.

At UCF's site, assistant coaches have a full-page bio and mug shot. In time, USF coach Jim Leavitt will have his picture on the team's site, as he should, but there's no reason not to have it up now, a week before the season begins.

Basketball coach Seth Greenberg doesn't have it any better -- the coaching link on the men's basketball page is blank, and the "record book" link offers a simple "headline, article here." Fans seem to be taking it with a big "Under Construction" grain of salt, and feedback has been largely positive in the first week.

"I've gotten a ton of e-mails, and there hasn't been one negative one," said Jodi Smith of USF's sports information department. "This site is going to be wonderful, but it's just going to take some time."

The same production company is running Heisman promotion site marquelblackwell.com, launched for the Bulls quarterback in June. There's no link to the site from USF's main site, but more discouraging is the continued presence of "COMING SOON" messages.

The quarterback has done his share of community service, but it would mean more if someone could take time to put something -- just a paragraph or two -- on that page.

The Blackwell page has been updated with pictures from his graduation this month and news of his inclusion on the watch list for the Davey O'Brien Award this week. But as is the case with the main USF site, fans are left to wonder when missing pages will be added.

Empty links put the focus on all that a site doesn't have. USF seems content to gamble that fans will continue to come back, hoping better days are ahead.

YOUR NAME HERE: Professional bowler Kim Adler is looking for a sponsor for Professional Women's Bowlers Association events next season and has placed an an 8-square-inch piece of advertising -- on the side of her shorts or skirt -- for auction on eBay.com.

Adler, 35, lives in Cocoa and boasts 21 perfect games in a 13-year career that has netted her $792,408 in winnings. Her auction has a bid of $4,000, though she only will accept the online bid if it exceeds the renewal offer from her current sponsor.

She's not the only sporting entity seeking help at eBay. The Nashville Sounds, the highest minor-league affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, put naming rights for their stadium on the auction site this week with a minimum bid of $100,000 until the mayor of Nashville voiced his displeasure.

TID-BYTES: Favorable preseason buzz about Steve Spurrier's Redskins appears to have affected some local fans, as seen in a Buccaneers.com poll, which asks fans how many points the Redskins will score in Saturday night's home game. Half the votes have Washington scoring 31 or more . At least 33 percent think Tampa Bay will hold the Redskins to fewer than 14. Washington has averaged 35 points in its first three preseason games under Spurrier. ... Spurrier.com belongs to Plantation's Tom Spurrier, whose site details his family tree. There's a listing for the former Florida coach, but no apparent genealogical connection. ... NASCAR.com has reached its one-billionth page view of 2002, a mark it did not reach until December last year. Considering the attention given to the death of Dale Earnhardt last year, that's no small accomplishment.

-- If you have a question or comment about the Internet or a site to suggest, e-mail staff writer Greg Auman at auman@sptimes.com.

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