'Exceptional' crowd for Bulls Fan Fest
Saturday afternoon brought the first Bulls Fan Fest at Raymond James Stadium, and the turnout was impressive, with USF officials estimating more than 2,000 fans in attendance, despite mid-90s heat and little shade to be found on the field. I've got lots more fun notes off this, but I'll get a few newsy things out there and come back later.
"The turnout was exceptional," coach Jim Leavitt said. "Everybody in our marketing department did a fabulous job, including getting the word out on very short notice."
One of the key benefits of having the event at Raymond James Stadium was the ability to sell season tickets. Assistant athletic director Jim Louk said about 75 were sold Saturday, pushing the season total to more than 19,000. Again, that's the highest since the inaugural season, and they're still selling.
Leavitt signed autographs for more than two hours, opting to send the last bus of players back to campus without him so he could keep signing. He said he'd find a ride home, and one fan quickly deadpanned that he'd give Leavitt a ride.
"My first year, I remember sitting with Lee Roy Selmon. I remember Lee Roy signing a bunch, but not me," Leavitt said.
How crazy was the turnout? Matt Grothe's little brother, wearing a No. 8 jersey, joked that he signed about 20 autographs. People took pictures with Grothe's dad. Trae Williams and Mike Jenkins both said they autographed a fan's ankle -- a female ankle, in both cases; same female, different ankles. (not far from life imitating Ricky Bobby).
-- News? One week after deciding to end his playing career and become a student assistant, offensive tackle Danny Tolley said he isn't ready to give up. "I made a quick decision," said Tolley, who will take a medical redshirt for a chronic, painful groin injury this fall, with hopes of returning in 2008. We'll go into more detail on this later, but Leavitt approves. "I like his courage," he said.
-- Got to meet a lot of blog readers out there today, which is always a cool part of the job. Thanks to all for the kind words -- I can tell you guys that this blog has managed more page views than our Bucs blog in the past week, which is pretty amazing no matter how much you think of USF's fan base. The editors notice those kind of things, so I'll thank you guys for coming by, even multiple times a day. Oh, and proud that only one of you guys asked me to ban Cee today. I'll keep writing if you guys keep reading ...
-- Accidental highlight of the day? Fans had a chance to win a jersey autographed by Leavitt, and over the loudspeaker, they announced that the lucky winner was ... Brenda Grothe. Matt's mom. Hey, she's a fan like anyone else. Maybe next year she can win a ballcap signed by her son.