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USF: Looking back

By Times staff

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 25, 2000


It began as a feasibility study in 1991.

Five years later, with the signing of its first recruiting class in February 1996, the University of South Florida football program was under way.

The team held its first practice in 1996, then began competition in Division I-AA with its first game on Sept. 6, 1997 -- stomping Kentucky Wesleyan 80-3.

USF has posted winning seasons in two of its three years in existence. The Bulls played their final Division I-AA season in 1999, opting to use the year 2000 as a transition season into Division I-A.

Coach Jim Leavitt said he doesn't think most people realize what USF has been able to accomplish in such a short span.

Consider:

Before USF, no team had started as a I-AA scholarship program. No team had vaulted into the Div. I-AA Top 25 so soon after beginning play (the Bulls made it after 14 games). And no team had moved up to I-A by its fifth season as the Bulls will do next year.

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