Bulls not too bothered by being picked seventh

Published July 20, 2005

NEWPORT, R.I. - Preseason conference polls are becoming a reliable source of summer motivation for South Florida.

The Bulls renewed their underdog status Tuesday when they were chosen to finish seventh of eight Big East teams in the conference's preseason media poll.

"They don't respect us. I understand why they don't, but we're going to earn it, regardless," running back Andre Hall said. "They're going to have no choice but to respect us. It's no big deal to be there now. It's the end of the season that matters."

A year ago, USF was picked seventh in its final season in Conference USA, but that was an 11-team league. Now, only Cincinnati, another Big East rookie, has been picked below the Bulls. Coach Jim Leavitt, accepting the projection with little care or debate, said it's more a reflection of last year's 4-7 record than what he expects this fall.

"We've been picked to finish in the bottom a lot of years," he said. "We probably should be picked to finish seventh. We haven't merited any reason not to be. Until you do it, you get what you deserve."

Louisville, which returns 14 starters from a team that went 11-1 and was undefeated in C-USA play last year, was a near-consensus choice as the preseason Big East champion, getting 23 of 24 first-place media ballots.

"I'd rather be picked as the favorite than the last-place team," coach Bobby Petrino said. "There's no question about that. I understand that it's based on what you did last year, who you have coming back, but that's it. It's a good motivational factor for our team."

Pittsburgh, which got the other first-place vote, was chosen second in its first season under ex-Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt.

STILL STANDING: Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese, who has endured an arduous two years of schools coming and going, said Tuesday was "probably the most exciting day in the history of our league."

"Two years ago, people were telling us we're going out of business, we're losing our BCS bid, we're losing our television contract, we're going to lose all our other bowls. I stand before you two years later and none of that is true," he said.

MOORE SUSPENDED: Former Blake High defensive back Donta Moore, arrested in May on multiple charges including felony possession of a firearm in a car, has been suspended from school for the fall semester at Connecticut, coach Randy Edsall said.

Moore, who entered spring as a starter at strong safety, can apply for reinstatement in January. "I think his intentions are to do that," Edsall said.

BULLS NOTES: USF's games at Pittsburgh (Oct. 15) and Syracuse (Nov. 12) have been identified as candidates for Big East Game of the Week, which would mean a noon kickoff and national broadcast on ESPN Regional, picked up locally on WFTS-Ch. 28. ... Leavitt said his current recruiting class might not have been ranked as high as in previous years, but he feels it's a huge improvement. "What do I honestly think about our class, compared to last year, three years ago? It's night and day. There's so many more playmakers there now."

BITS: Syracuse coach Greg Robinson wore one of his two Super Bowl rings from his days as defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos. ... The league showcased the array of video screens that will be used for its instant replay system in league games this fall. Home nonconference games may use the system if visiting teams approve. And before you start yelling in vain this fall: pass interference is among the plays deemed unreviewable.