Grothe, Selvie eager for last shot at Big East
Here's the story for Wednesday's Times from correspondent Mike Shalin, who checks in from the Big East media day in Rhode Island ...
NEWPORT, R.I. – For Matt Grothe and George Selvie, the time is now.
And they know it.
Regardless of how much further Jim Leavitt takes the USF program, no matter what good things happen to the Bulls down the road, these two senior stars have one more shot at the college brass ring, a conference title and a BCS spot.
"They’re very aware this is it – they’re very aware of it," Leavitt said Tuesday, before his two seniors met the media at the annual Big East preseason event. "They know it and they know they don’t win it this year they aren't going to win a Big East championship."
Both players have meant so much to the USF rise, but the clock is ticking. The Bulls were picked fourth in the preseason media poll, picking up three first-place votes but coming in behind Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Cincinnati, and just ahead of Rutgers. Preseason predictions are often not worth the paper they’re printed on.
"Me and George are so excited about the season and what it means to both of us to go out with a Big East championship," said Grothe, the leader of the offense. "We both know we can do it. It’s a matter of staying out of trouble on the field and playing well."
And keeping Selvie, who will receive his college degree Saturday, healthy would help – a lot. Last year, a high ankle sprain limited the defensive end for three quarters of the season. He played, but probably shouldn’t have. He’s healthy now and it’s no secret what that means.
"For us this is it," says Selvie. "It's now or never for me, there’s no next year for me. We've (he and Grothe) done a lot of things for our program but this is our senior year. We’ve got to let it all hang loose. There's no tomorrow for us. There's no next year. We (the team) can do it next year – there's no next year for us. We’ve gotta try to get everything this year – it's all or nothing."
When Grothe talks about staying out of trouble, he means taking care of the football. Leavitt said you can trace so many USF losses the past two years to turnovers – not just by Grothe, who may well be the best quarterback in the Big East – and, of course, to injury.
When he talks about Selvie, Leavitt says, “The thing that hurt him last year was he was hurt. He wasn’t healthy. The first two or three games he played really well and then he got hurt. It’s hard to play when you’re hurt. It was a bad injury but it’s hard to keep George from playing. He didn’t want to sit."
Selvie said he took matters into his own hands at one point. "Nobody even put me in the Pittsburgh game," he said. "I ran out there myself. I just couldn't stay on the sideline. Being dressed out in full pads just watching my team play, I had to be on the field. I'd never been in that position before – it was hard for me to watch. Maybe I shouldn't have played. He (Leavitt) got kind of angry at me (that) I got in the game but I want to play and that's what I’m going to do.
"It was hindering me. It was hurting. I can say it slowed me down a lot … I got depressed. I'd never been hurt before, never been in that position before, personally being in that position. I sat the N.C. State game. I missed that game. It was a big game for our defense. It was hard for me to sit there and watch that game."