Hargreaves knows FSU well from Miami days
USF is preparing for just its second meeting with Florida State on Saturday at a sold-out Raymond James Stadium, but Bulls assistant Vernon Hargreaves knows the Seminoles well, having faced them nine times in his tenure as Miami's linebackers coach from 1998-2005.
"It was always a battle. Always," he said. "Some of the best football games you wanted to be around. My favorite one was probably the Orange Bowl in (January) '04. There were a lot of great players. That's probably as close to an NFL game as I've gotten to be involved with. A lot of (NFL) guys playing in it -- guys like Jon Vilma, Kellen Winslow, Vince Wilfork, some of those guys."
Hargreaves went 6-3 all-time with the Hurricanes against FSU, including a 16-14 in that Orange Bowl rematch, which was part of a five-game win streak against the Seminoles. He said he still points to that game to his current players
"That was their last college football game before the draft," he said. "It would have been easy for those guys to say 'Hey, let's get out of here. Let's not get hurt.' Let me tell you something: They played as hard as I've ever seen anybody play. It was the damnedest thing. I'll never forget. It's one of my favorite memories, doing what I do 25 years. Watching those guys play at that level, it was a hell of a game."
Hargreaves said the best thing about the rivalry -- beyond the consistently close games -- was the mutual respect between the two programs' players and coaches, something he sees now with USF and FSU in their short series.
"There was no animosity. It was like 'You guys play hard. We play hard. May the best man win,'" he said. "Our players (at USF) know whose guys are. Those are a lot of guys we may have recruited, probably tried to recruit, and a lot that our guys have played with and against in high school. They understand the relevance, and they'll play that much harder."