Holtz doesn't like sharing jersey numbers
Exciting news from the War on Unncessary Confusion: USF coach Skip Holtz said Thursday that he's not a big fan of the Bulls' odd tradition of allowing an offensive and defensive player to share the same jersey number.
"One of the theories that's been done here in the past is to double-up all the single-digit numbers, and I'm trying to grandfather in just having one per number," Holtz said. "We're sitting here, going through numbers -- you look at No. 5 (safety Jon Lejiste is now wearing 8), but you had Lindsey Lamar and Lejiste both at No. 5, well, what happens when you go to put together a punt team. All the sudden, you can't put someone on your punt team because of what number they're wearing. I'm a big believer that everybody gets their own numbers, and then when the seniors graduate and the underclassmen request the single digits, you take care of the guys who are playing and getting it done in the classroom."
The NCAA allows multiple players to have the same jersey number, but if they're on the field at the same time, it's a 5-yard illegal substitution penalty. USF had to call a time out against Charleston Southern last season because of the exact scenario Holtz detailed, with two players on the field with the same number. (Walk-on Chris Lane switched from No. 23 to No. 24 midgame to avoid the conflict.)
So even the most high-profile players -- except for QB Jamius Gunsby, who is wearing No. 8 -- haven't earned the right to single digits. He's even evicted some marginal single-digit guys -- cornerback Ricardo Dixon, who wore No. 9 last year and was held out of much of spring drills to focus on academics, has now been downgraded to wearing No. 38.
"I told all the freshmen, you earn your number. We'll give it to you when you come in, but you're going to have to earn it," Holtz said. "It baffles me how many guys play for three years and then go, 'OK, I want to change.' I'm like, 'They're selling your number in the store down the street. People are wearing your jerseys to a game and you want to change numbers? The player makes the number. The number doesn't make the player."
USF still has 13 numbers shared by two players -- the most prominent pairs are No. 7 (QB B.J. Daniels, DE Ryne Giddins), No. 11 (WR A.J. Love, LB Sabbath Joseph) and No. 55 (OG Jeremiah Warren, LB Mike Lanaris).
Holtz, for the record, wore No. 9 while at Notre Dame. "As a senior," he deadpanned.