Bowls, Bulls and long-awaited heaps of rubble
Lots to get to this morning, starting with a few links to stories in Thursday's Times. Staff writer Stephen Holder has a front-page feature on former USF cornerback Mike Jenkins, who could stay in town if he's still around when the Bucs pick at No. 20. Jenkins worked out Tuesday in Tampa for the Saints, who pick 10th, and I honestly think if the Bucs want Jenkins, they're going to have to move up in the draft to get him.
I was at the Hilton Carillon Park in St. Petersburg last night, where there was a gathering of organizers and local officials for the St. Petersburg Bowl, which is expected to be approved Wednesday to join the 32 bowls already in place for the 2008 season. One piece of news that should help the bowl's initial attendance is a low price point of $30 for tickets -- much more likely that local football fans might show up for a new game at a more affordable price. The Big East has had 6-6 teams miss bowls the last two seasons -- Pittsburgh in 2006, Louisville last season -- and that's with Notre Dame not taking up one of the league's contracted bowl berths.
I'd be surprised if the NCAA approves all three proposed new bowls -- there's a game in Washington, D.C., that would pit Navy against a ninth ACC team, and a game in Salt Lake City that would pit a Mountain West team against a Western Athletic Conference team. The ACC didn't have any bowl-eligible teams not in bowls last season, so that game has a backup plan with the MAC, which obviously wouldn't be as attractive as an ACC team from Virginia or Maryland. And yes, the D.C. bowl could also have Army playing in it, but Army hasn't been to a bowl since 1996. The seven teams that were bowl-eligible last season but didn't play in a bowl? That'd be Troy (8-4), along with six 6-6 teams: Louisville, South Carolina, Iowa, Northwestern, Louisiana-Monroe and Ohio.
-- Was over at softball for interviews on Tuesday and noticed something fans have been waiting to hear about for two years: There's construction going on at USF's soccer stadium, where a new track and field facility will be in place this fall. The red track surface has been pulled up and sits in a huge pile in one corner, and the infield grass has been pulled out, leaving a big dirt area that will be cleared for the new surface and infield. It's a joint-use facility that will be built using $2.79-million from Hillsborough County, which can use the track for its own events, sharing it with the Bulls. When we first reported on the new facility in May 2006, construction was ideally going to start that November, but with construction started, it's clear the logistical hurdles have been cleared, so soon Bulls fans will see actual hurdles instead.
-- So I'm in a doctor's office with my daughter for an appointment Wednesday and I'm reading Tampa Bay Illustrated magazine to pass the time. There's a feature on Tampa's 10 most charitable and fashionable men, and lo and behold, there's two guys with USF ties in there. Bulls baseball volunteer assistant Tino Martinez made the list, as did former USF basketball player Brian Lamb, now with Fifth Third Bank. I'm frankly disappointed the ever-fashionable Ernest Hooper didn't make the list for a second year in a row. This concludes the fashion-shoot portion of today's blog.