Football notes: On USF-Miami, injuries, ex-coaches
When USF put out news Monday that this fall's home game against Miami had been moved up a week to Nov. 19 at the Big East's request, the Bulls said the move wasn't indicative of anything beyond this year's schedule.
But the reason for the schedule shift is because the Big East wants to have the final two weekends of the regular season available for conference games without interference from other games. It seems unlikely that preference will change soon, which makes it logical then that the final two games of the USF-Miami series, once touted as a Thanksgiving-week state rivalry game alongside Florida-Florida State, might be permanently moved from the holiday weekends in 2012 and 2013.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing for USF -- the earlier date this fall means more fans (and students) are in town, which should help attendance, and the game is more likely to pop out nationally when it's not lumped in with a ton of other nonconference rivalry games. On the weekend before Thanksiving in 2010, there were zero nonconference games involving two teams from BCS leagues, and only three games involving two ranked teams; a week later on Thanksgiving weekend, there were six and five, respectively.
And this fall, USF will play the Hurricanes one week after they travel to Tallahassee to face Florida State, with their home finale against Boston College coming the week after -- both could be more of a distraction than they've faced before and after the USF game in past seasons.
-- One injury note to pass on, and it's not at a deep position for the Bulls: Ricardo Dixon, who overcame shoulder problems to solidify himself as a second-string cornerback after his redshirt freshman season, will be limited by back problems this spring. Skip Holtz said Monday that no decision has been made on whether Dixon will need back surgery, but the Bulls have only five other corners on scholarship this spring -- likely starters Quenton Washington and Kayvon Webster, veterans George Baker and Tyson Butler and redshirt freshman Spencer Boyd, who worked at receiver most of last season.
Dixon's injury matches up with a curious note found in the Valdosta Daily Times before signing day, which cited USF signee Kenneth Durden in saying that "a Bulls coach called him Tuesday and said he'll be entering camp as the No. 2 cornerback after another corner had back surgery." To be clear, he would more reasonably be a No. 2 corner rather than the No. 2 corner. Dixon had just eight tackles last fall, but had shown promise after being limited by lingering shoulder problems. And some of you had asked about the health of running back Dontae Aycock, who had knee surgery last fall -- he's fully recovered and going through winter workouts without any problems.
-- Two former USF assistants who were out of college football last season after being cut loose in Jim Leavitt's firing have landed on college staffs in the past week. Former defensive coordinator Joe Tresey, who spent last season with the UFL's Omaha Nighthawks after his one season with the Bulls, picked up a solid job as UCLA's new defensive coordinator under Rick Neuheisel. (Slight change in lifestyle for Tresey, going from Omaha to Los Angeles.) And while it hasn't been made official yet, former USF special teams coordinator John Hendrick has accepted the same position on the coaching staff at Tulane, according to the Times-Picayune (careful with that URL). Hendrick, an ordained minister, kept in touch with many USF players last season, sending them a daily Bible verse via text message for inspiration. His son, John, a senior at Sickles, is headed to Navy on a football scholarship as an option quarterback.
-- Lots more to come tonight or tomorrow on what looks to be a wide-open spring for USF football ...