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Paint Leavitt as a basketball booster
Jim Leavitt's football team had the most improved attendance in college football this fall. Now the coach is doing his part to get more Bulls fans out to see Stan Heath's men's basketball team.
By GREG AUMAN
Published December 5, 2007
TAMPA - Jim Leavitt's football team had the most improved attendance in college football this fall. Now the coach is doing his part to get more Bulls fans out to see Stan Heath's men's basketball team.
When USF takes on Alabama-Birmingham at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Sun Dome, Leavitt will "paint up" with the student section, trying to mobilize students to get behind Heath's team 5-3, which has won five in a row.
"I don't know what they're going to do with me," said Leavitt, who first expressed interest in donning the green and gold in September after his team's home upset of West Virginia.
Leavitt, in a video interview with USF's student paper, the Oracle, expressed his thanks for the Big East's largest student section and hinted he'd like to join them down the road.
"I wish I could be in one of those - you know those rock concerts where the guy jumps out in the middle of them and they all pass you around the stands?" Leavitt told the Oracle. "I just love our students and we couldn't do it without you. ...I need to get my body painted green and gold one of these times and do that."
His appearance Saturday is part of "Finish Strong Night" in the Sun Dome, with the first 3,000 fans getting the motivational wristbands USF's football players have worn throughout this season. USF alumnus Jeff Wagner, who has inspired the Bulls in his battle with leukemia and gave them their "Finish Strong" mantra, sent an e-mail this week, asking fans for a "packed, passionate and prideful crowd" Saturday.
LOVE FROM FSU?: Which football coach had USF ranked highest in the final coaches poll? That'd be Florida State's Bobby Bowden, who had the Bulls 17th. USF was 25th in the coaches' rankings, but can't thank all the state's coaches for that. FIU's Mario Cristobal didn't rank USF, and gave his No. 24 spot to Central Florida, which lost to USF 64-12.
UCF's George O'Leary voted his Knights 17th - the highest for UCF out of 60 ballots - and ranked the Bulls No. 22.
COMMENDA-BULL: Kudos to USF's baseball team, which dominated a food donation drive among the athletic teams. The baseball players donated 459 pounds of food, more than half of the 705 pounds USF donated to Metropolitan Ministries. "This was a great experience for our kids," associate women's basketball coach Jeff Osterman said. "Right away, as we were leaving, a few of our kids asked if we could do this again at Christmas. I think that says something."
THIS AND THAT: Heath needs a big man for his incoming recruiting class, and it looks like a new target is Freddy Asprilla, a 6-foot-10, 260-pound recruit who signed with Miami last year but did not qualify. Once committed to Florida International, he watched USF's victory at FIU last week and got a scholarship offer from Heath, according to his high school coach, Art Alvarez. ... The only thing stranger than some of the football coaches' ballots are those from the Harris Poll. Dr. Charles Johnson, a former player at New Mexico State, didn't rank USF, but put Pittsburgh (5-7) at No. 25. ... USF is the only team to beat three conference champs this season: West Virginia, UCF and Florida Atlantic. The Bulls have a chance to post wins against teams from four BCS conferences this season. USF beat Auburn (SEC) and North Carolina (ACC) in addition to its Big East wins and now plays Oregon of the Pac-10. West Virginia is the only other team that could pull off such a feat, by beating Oklahoma.