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Greetings from Leavitt-town



Usftentcity_2 THE TENT CITY JUST EAST OF THE SUN DOME – How’s that for a dateline you don’t see every day?

When USF fans camped out for bowl tickets back in December, I called this “Leavitt-town,” and there’s enough tents and grills and honks from passing motorists to make this the proud Bulls equivalent of Krzyzewskiville up at Duke.

They won’t start distributing student tickets for Friday’s USF-West Virginia game until 6 a.m. Monday – still five and a half hours from now – but people have been lining up and setting  up tents since 3 p.m.

There’s more than 100 tents here now, but if you’re reading this before 6 a.m., there’s still a few patches of grass available.

USF coach Jim Leavitt made an appearance earlier tonight, and the noise was loud enough that staffers in the athletic facility across the street had to come over to see what the excitement was. “How can you not go over for that?” said Leavitt, now coach of the No. 18 team in college football.

There’s a little of everything here in Leavitt-town – lots of faces lit in the glow of laptops, circles of friends gathered around mini-grill bonfires. There's people with dogs, people playing Ultimate frisbee, people interrupting a game of football and politely asking "Hey, can I try to punt drunk?" There’s a guy in an Urlacher jersey watching Bears-Cowboys on a TV that has better reception than what I get at home.

The official bus of USF’s automotive engineering team pulls up at 10:30. They design their own cars, and because their “season” is primarily at the end of the spring semester, they take the bus on the road for football games, as they did for Auburn two weeks ago. Legally, they can’t have more than 15 people inside, but they’ve got railings set up on top, so they’re partying up there like it’s the infield at Daytona.

There’s Beer Pong. There’s Cornhole. And a girl just walked up and said, “Does anybody want to play Circle of Death?” (I got a quick rundown on the game, and feel rusty and very old now.)

Best moment? Car gets pulled over by campus police across the street, lights on and everything. Couple of people break out with a cheer you might hear after a bad call (Bulls …) and then the whole crowd breaks into a “LET HIM GO! LET HIM GO!” cheer. I’m pretty sure the guy got a ticket, just the same.

USF is doing the right things, with the Sun Dome restrooms open so people have appropriate places to pee. They’ve got security staffers in the Dome – guy I talked to at was working until 9 a.m. You'd think football success like this would make it easy for USF's marketing efforts, but assistant AD Ayo Taylor-Dixon will be out here all night, and associate AD Bill McGillis was still working in his office when I pulled out of the parking lot. "Too much work to do," he says.

This tent city, as much as anything you’ll see on Saturday afternoons, is what college football is all about. Those of you out here, once you get home and get some rest, feel free to offer up your favorite moments.

(Times photo by Ross Mantle)

[Last modified: Thursday, May 27, 2010 11:38am]


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