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Bulls to remain mum about Big 12 pursuit

USF athletic director Mark Harlan is among the Bulls administrators working quietly behind the scenes in the school's pursuit of Big 12 membership.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

USF athletic director Mark Harlan is among the Bulls administrators working quietly behind the scenes in the school's pursuit of Big 12 membership.

27

July

As you read this, the covert efforts to nudge USF farther up college sports' food chain are ongoing. Don't let the dearth of tweets or sound bites fool you. The Bulls would love to join the Big 12.

Here's what they won't join: The chorus of presidents and athletic directors publicly lobbying for an invitation for their respective schools.

After pondering whether to go more public about their Big 12 aspirations, USF officials have opted to stay their current course and keep operating below the radar, the Tampa Bay Times has learned.  

Harlan and Coach Willie Taggart are sure to be asked about the Bulls' Power Five pursuit at next week's American Athletic Conference Summer Kickoff and Media Days, but any response is expected to mirror the one Harlan made when outlining his department's five-year strategic plan to school trustees in May.

"We're aspirational, but this university's aspirational," Harlan said then. "If there's something that we're aspirational toward and it makes sense for the university, let's go for it."

The taciturn approach, which USF officials believe is the most prudent going forward, stands in glaring contrast to the public comments emanating from other Big 12 prospects nationally.

UCF president John Hitt has publicly said there "ought to be a home" for the Knights in the Big 12, while East Carolina has campaigned for its cause via its official athletics Twitter handle (@ECUAthletics).

 

Similarly, new Connecticut athletic director David Benedict has expressed his school's interest in the Big 12. Houston officials, meantime, arguably have been the most outspoken about their desire to join a Power Five conference. 

Then there's USF, quiet amid the clamor.

And hoping the silence will be resounding.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 27, 2016 12:42pm]

    

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