St. Petersburg Times Online: Sports
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather

printer version

Days of I-AA foes near end

South Florida plans to pack future schedules with as many Division I-A opponents as possible.

By SCOTT PURKS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 3, 2002

TAMPA -- Speed, strength, coordination, depth, a punter ... Charleston Southern was lacking in all departments.

At least compared with South Florida.

It was clear from Saturday night's first play -- an interception by USF's Maurice Tucker -- the Bucs were out of their league.

As in Division I-AA vs. I-A.

As in the days of the Bulls playing I-AA opponents are all but behind them.

"We won't have more than one I-AA opponent on our schedule from now on," coach Jim Leavitt said after routing Charleston Southern 56-6. "One at the most."

And to think this has happened in less than six years.

It was not long ago (1997) that South Florida lost 41-13 at Elon in front of 4,692.


That's a college somewhere in North Carolina.

It is also indicative of those early schedules. In the first three years South Florida had victories against big names such as Valparaiso (51-0), Cumberland (69-3) and ... Charleston Southern (24-6 in 1997 and 24-0 in '98).

"We sure have come a long way from that," Leavitt said. "That first year I didn't know if our guys could catch a pass. I didn't know if we could win a game.

"We had 18 true freshmen on that (1997) team so I really didn't know what we were capable of."

Fast forward to Saturday night: A few minutes into the second half South Florida's starters were sipping water on the bench with a 35-0 lead. By the fourth quarter the Bulls had emptied their bench.

While Leavitt was happy, "to get a lot of kids into the game," he and players remain focused on tougher opponents, teams that will raise South Florida's credibility.

"We'd like eliminate all the I-AA teams from the schedule," Tucker said. "We want to play the I-A teams. We want to play the best."

The Bulls played their first I-A opponent in 1999, a game at San Diego State, which beat the Bulls 41-12 in the season opener.

The next year could be considered the Bulls' transition year, meaning they sprinkled I-A opponents (four) among I-AA foes (seven).

Then came 2001, or what many consider the breakout season, featuring eight I-A opponents and three I-AA, a year in which South Florida went 8-3 and captured its first I-A victory 35-26 at Pittsburgh.

This season South Florida had only two I-AA teams on its schedule (Florida Atlantic in the opener and Charleston Southern), and next year it might go all I-A.

Eleven of next season's games will be against I-A teams, and if the Bulls get that 12th game, USF officials likely will seek another.

"Every year we're getting better," Leavitt said. "Every year we're looking for new challenges. That's what you have to do."

By the way, in the Bulls' second season they beat Elon 35-7.

South Florida has no plans to put Elon on the schedule in the future.

Back to Sports
Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
Contact the Times | Privacy Policy
Standard of Accuracy | Terms, Conditions & Copyright

From the Times sports desk

College football
  • Florida's Savelio gets in domestic dispute
  • Calm QB sparks 'Noles
  • Scoreboard lights up for Bulls
  • Irish start fall of unbeatens
  • Dawg ugly win
  • Marshall star misses part of loss
  • ACC: Tech hands N.C. State first defeat
  • C-USA: Houston tops Memphis for rare streak
  • Big Ten: Tampa's Ross leads OSU's win
  • Nation: Bowling Green remains unbeaten
  • FSU: By the numbers
  • Maddox ably takes over as lead rusher
  • Wake-up call timely for defense
  • UF: By the numbers
  • Gators lose leading receiver for four weeks
  • 'Canes rally late for 30 wins in row
  • Big East: Pitt shocks Hokies second straight year
  • State: UCF loses on Syracuse rally
  • Big 12: Oklahoma takes out another ranked team
  • SEC: Vols regroup against South Carolina
  • Pac-10: Gesser sets more records for first-place WSU
  • USF: By the numbers
  • Mitchell makes impact running this time
  • Days of I-AA foes near end

  • Motorsports
  • Wallace's victory streak in danger
  • McMurray wins as leaders spin

  • NHL
    New York City Marathon
  • Aspiring to out-of-sight goal

  • NFL
  • Chargers midway champs
  • NFL Game Day: Week 9

  • Baseball
  • Giants won't splurge on Baker

  • NHL
  • Shot barrage barely enough for Flyers
  • Slapshots

  • NBA
  • Kidd keeps Nets going in win against Wizards
  • McGrady takes charge in win

  • Golf
  • Long putt boosts Singh's lead to 3

  • Et cetera
  • Highs & lows
  • Sports briefs

  • Preps
  • Six teams can safely eye postseason
  • All-Star game selects pair
  • Eagles girls prevent title sweep by Pirates
  • Pirates, Bucs lead charge

  • Outdoors
  • Daily fishing report
  • Pass-a-Grille pieris perfect on foot

  • Letters
  • Players would be a better investment for Devil Rays

  • Rays
  • Who's the man?: Piniella?

  • Bucs
  • Who's the man? Gruden?
  • Johnson a bigger target
  • Kung fu fighting questions, spiders
  • Chucky's Chalk Talk
  • High Profile -- Mike Alstott
  • Side line

  • Letters
  • Many call for King to be quarterback

  • Lightning
  • Lecavalier makes last year easy to forget

  • From the wire

    From the state sports wire
  • Jacksonville's Spicer placed on IR after leg surgery
  • FIU-Western Kentucky game postponed because of Jeanne
  • Brown anxious to face old team for first time
  • Dolphins' desperate defense readies for Roethlisberger
  • Former Sarasota lineman sheds tough-guy image with Michigan
  • Rothstein rejoins Heat as assistant
  • No. 16 Florida has history on its side against Kentucky
  • FSU and Clemson QBs both off to slow starts