Saturday, September 22, 2018
  • USF Sports Bulletin
  • Joey Knight

Bulls AD: Program wants to ‘get away’ from playing I-AA schools

In the wake of announcing home-and-home football deals with Louisville and North Carolina State, Bulls athletic director Mark Harlan offered additional encouraging news about future USF schedules.

The days of Division I-AA opposition may be ending. Or dissipating considerably.

Speaking on his school-produced podcast Tuesday, Harlan said he and Coach Charlie Strong's philosophy going forward is to attempt to play at least two Power Five programs — and perhaps three — annually.

"We both want to get away from playing (I-AA) schools," Harlan said. "I don't think it does us a great service to play too many of those. And I'm saying that with all due respect; there are some incredible (I-AA) programs and some that are on our schedule.

"But going forward, when we're in a situation where we have to play a (I-AA) school, because we maybe have a gap, we're going to look for schools in this region (i.e. Bethune-Cookman, FAMU) that we can play."

Related: USF sets 2-game football series with N.C. State

The Bulls play one I-AA opponent — Elon at home in the season opener — this fall, but currently don't have another scheduled through 2026. By contrast, they faced at least one I-AA foe every year from 2000 (the year they transitioned to Division I) to 2017.

Though some non-conference vacancies remain in upcoming schedules, the Bulls already have 11 games against Power Five opposition slated over the next seven seasons, not including a two-game home-and-home series with BYU.

"Charlie and I have had a lot of talks about what the philosophy needs to be," Harlan said. "And the philosophy is simple, and we are in complete alignment on this: We want to play the best, at all times, whenever and wherever we can. That's what we are attempting to do.

"And the very best have to want to play you. It's a two-way street, and then you have to contractually come to an agreement."