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

printer version

Bulls play 'what if' after win

Conference USA told USF to wait. This year, the Bulls sent a message.

By JOSH GAJEWSKI
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 24, 2002


HOUSTON -- There are "statement games" and then there are statement seasons. Bowl or no bowl, South Florida's 2002 campaign has been the latter.

A 32-14 win over Houston at Robertson Stadium on Saturday completed a perfect season against teams from Conference USA, the league USF hoped it would enter in 2001. It instead will do so next season. The Bulls squeezed out three-point wins over C-USA members Southern Mississippi and Memphis and beat East Carolina going away.

Saturday's regular-season finale was an exclamation point.

"One of our goals was to beat all the C-USA teams we would play, and we went out and did it," USF receiver Hugh Smith said. "We're the conference champions. We're the conference champions and we deserve to go to a bowl."

But because of the decision made by C-USA on Oct. 12, 1999, that the Bulls would enter conference play in 2003 instead of 2001, no C-USA trophy or any other memento was given to acknowledge the Bulls' dominance against the league. That almost made some USF players want to go digging. Literally.

"We were going to go out and dig up the Conference USA (logo) out there (painted on the Robertson Stadium turf) and take it home, but we thought we'd do it with a little bit more class and take the win and keep going," said USF quarterback Marquel Blackwell, a four-year starter who may have played his final collegiate game.

When Blackwell was informed of East Carolina's win over Texas Christian, which dropped TCU, the conference leader going in at 5-1 in the league, into a tie for the top spot, Blackwell, his hands pulling on the collar of his shoulder pads, just shook his head and said, "You know what I'm saying? It's crazy.

"It's frustrating to a point but you learn to accept things you can't control," Blackwell added. "Everybody knows with our wins in C-USA that we would (have been) in the top echelon (of the league)."

Despite his players' proclamations, USF coach Jim Leavitt veered from making any more what-if-type comments.

"I don't want anybody to think that we're all this or all that as far as Conference USA goes," he said. "It's an outstanding conference and we understand that and we are humbly excited about entering next year, and we're nothing more than that.

"It's hard when the league makes decisions to know what we may or may not do (performance-wise). In all fairness, we wanted to go (into C-USA) in 2001 only because I had recruited with that in mind.

"(Friday night) I said (to the team) that one of the hardest days I've had since we've been here was the day (former USF athletic director) Paul Griffin told me we were not going to go in 2001. I sat there almost emotionless and I asked, 'What am I going to tell these coaches, what am I going to tell these players?' It was real hard. But I'm not pointing to the conference; they have to do what they feel is best for the league."

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
  • Wildcats seal MEAC, playoffs
  • Party first, Fiesta later
  • Bulls make case again
  • ACC champs?
  • Missouri QB gets yard for history
  • PSU's Johnson joins the club
  • Clarett stings Wolverines
  • Big Ten: Boilermakers going to 6th straight bowl
  • Wildcats get tough up close
  • Suber sits out win for B-CC
  • State: Knights win shootout but lose chance at title
  • Big East: Irish win moves them closer to BCS berth
  • Bulls play 'what if' after win
  • Buckeyes help Bulls' bowl chances
  • South Florida by the numbers
  • Nation: Mountain West belongs to CSU
  • Big 12: Sooners rout Red Raiders for berth in championship
  • ACC: Motivated Cavaliers again defy expectations
  • C-USA: ECU stuns top team in league
  • Pac-10: UW denies WSU's national title hopes
  • SEC: Tigers savor unexpected win
  • Running back struggles in return home
  • Florida State by the numbers
  • Darrell Fry: Martz betting on QB choice
  • Hubert Mizell: Ex-Packers GM dishes on Favre and Bucs of old and new
  • John Romano: Mediocrity has become Seminoles' new goal

  • More sports
  • Everything comes together according to plan for Bauer
  • Highs and lows
  • Sports briefs
  • Teske leads Sorenstam
  • Tampa tops Mocs, advances to final
  • Attitude adjustment aids 'Noles
  • Slap shots
  • Minnesota sets record for scoring
  • Hamilton's defense is the cornerstone
  • Bowerman, Panthers earn titles
  • Third not good enough
  • Lyons has last word
  • Chilly air no problem
  • Gator, Wildcat both finish 18th
  • Mustangs have off day
  • Tensions run high as halfway point nears
  • Three-team deal could land Neagle with Mets
  • NFL Game Day: Week 11
  • Fishing: Daily fishing report
  • Letters: Southern Illinois coverage pleases local Saluki alumni

  • Rays
  • Rupe looking toward future

  • Bucs
  • Fighting for home
  • Chucky's Chalk Talk
  • High Profile -- Brett Favre
  • Side line
  • Jurevicius picks court over catwalk
  • Respect begins with Packers
  • Letters: Losing Nickerson a mistake by Bucs
  • Gary Shelton: Rice's life a study in poetry and motion

  • Lightning
  • Milestone energizes Lightning
  • Team will stay together and relax


  • 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