Bulls turn to familiar foe to fill '09 schedule
USF has confirmed that Division I-AA's Charleston Southern will play the Bulls in Tampa on Sept. 19 to complete USF's 2009 schedule.
"We feel fortunate that a quality (Football Championship Series) opponent was available at this late date, and that Charleston Southern was willing to adjust their schedule," athletic director Doug Woolard said in a statement. "We are happy that our fans will be able to see six home games at Raymond James Stadium this season, which was our primary consideration in filling the unexpected void in our 2009 schedule."
The Bulls and Buccaneers have met four times, most recently in 2003. CSU was scheduled to play Division II Mars Hill on Sept. 19, but a spokesman from that school said CSU called last week to opt out of the game because it had a chance to play a Division I-A opponent. USF will pay CSU $450,000 to make the trip to Raymond James Stadium.
USF had to scramble to pick up an opponent after Florida International backed out of its contracted game on Sept. 19 in Tampa to pick up a home-and-home series with Rutgers. FIU will pay USF $200,000 to opt out of the game, as part of the original contract, but the short notice left USF with no option but to schedule a second I-AA opponent.
"Our staff was very thorough and diligent in its efforts to find another (Football Bowl Series) opponent on Sept. 19," Woolard said. "We contacted dozens of schools directly, conference commissioners from around the country and other college football officials in an effort to schedule an FBS opponent. Unfortunately, due to the position we were put in at this extremely late date, we were not able to achieve that objective."
Charleston Southern, which opens its 2009 season at Florida on Sept. 5, would be the first nonconference opponent to play the Bulls five times. The two schools met in USF's first two seasons, with the Bulls winning 24-6 in 1997 and 24-0 in 1998. They played again in 2002 and 2003, with USF winning 56-6 and 55-7.
CSU went 7-5 last season and is 28-17 in the past four seasons. They played "guarantee" games at Miami (Fl.) and Miami (Ohio) last season, as well as Hawaii in 2007.
Having two I-AA opponents on the schedule means that only one of those two wins can count toward bowl eligibility. Other BCS programs, including Duke, North Carolina and Michigan, have announced schedules with two I-AA games.