tampabay.com

Grothe jabs back after online pokes

The USF quarterback looks forward to Saturday's game against rival UCF.

By GREG AUMAN
Published October 10, 2007


TAMPA -Quarterback Matt Grothe knows Saturday's showdown with Central Florida is a rivalry game, if only because UCF fans won't stop poking him.

Not physically. But online, at Facebook.com, where users can "poke," which sends a prompt to another Facebook user seeking a reply or poke back.

"On Facebook, they have this stupid, ridiculous thing called Poke the Opposing Team's Quarterback," Grothe said Tuesday, likely prompting much more poking in the next four days. "I've probably been poked three or four times by other schools all year. I've probably been poked about 6-million times this week."

USF fans will debate as to whether to call the UCF game a rivalry, but Grothe said it stands out to him because of how intense the fans get.

"I remember how packed it was at their stadium last year," said the sophomore who led a second-half comeback, throwing the winning touchdown in a 24-14 victory with 3:20 to play. "To see their fans and our fans, how much their fans wanted them to win, how much our fans wanted to win. Hearing some of the comments behind me in the stands, how much our fans hate theirs, how much their fans hate ours, it's just building up more and more. It's exciting. I'm looking forward to Saturday."

USF has won both previous meetings with the Knights, and this is the last scheduled meeting in Tampa, with a fourth game in Orlando next season. For now, UCF's fans have mobilized online, and Grothe has noticed, stopping short of saying they have too much free time on their hands.

"It's just trying to get into their heads, I guess," Grothe said. "It's kind of funny. Some of those people ... I don't know."

RECRUITING: Men's basketball coach Stan Heath, whose team opens practice Friday, got his first commitment of the season Monday from Gene Swindle, a6-foot-11, 260-pound center from Miami Gulliver Prep.

"I thought it was the best fit for me," said Swindle, who also was courted by Virginia, Virginia Tech and Nebraska. "It's close to home, and I love the Big East, being from Miami. I think it's one of the better basketball conferences."

Jim Leavitt picked up his 12th oral commitment Monday, from Anthony Mains, a6-6, 222-pound defensive end from Naples Golden Gate who had nine sacks last season.

SPENCE OUT: Softball coach Ken Eriksen has incredible pitching depth, but he'll be without senior Bree Spence of Countryside, who will redshirt this season after surgery on her left (non-throwing) shoulder. Spence has 54 starts and 28 wins in the last two seasons, but the Bulls still return ace Cristi Ecks, senior Courtney Mosch and sophomore Kristen Gordon, with freshman phenom Capri Catalano joining the mix this spring.

THIS AND THAT: USF is auctioning off a game ball from the win against then-No. 5 West Virginia on its official site, gousfbulls.com. Bidding, which ends Friday, was at $600 on Tuesday. ... The Bulls released their 2008 baseball schedule Tuesday, including a home series in April against Louisville, where Lelo Prado coached before coming to USF last year. Oklahoma State, which lost to Louisville in last year's Super Region, also plays two games in Tampa. ... Volleyball, off to a 2-3 start in Big East play, has five of its last seven conference games on the road, making this weekend's home dates with West Virginia and Pittsburgh all the more important. Only the top eight teams make the conference tournament, and USF is tied for eighth in the current standings.

Greg Auman can be reached at auman@sptimes.com and at (813) 226-3346. Check out his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/usf.