Holtz: Seniors have helped Bulls weather tough year
TAMPA -- USF's seniors have their final practice as Bulls today in preparation for Saturday's home finale against Pittsburgh, and despite the frustration of eight losses in the last nine games, Skip Holtz said he's been consistently impressed by his seniors' attitudes in practice.
"I keep talking about the love I have for them because of the quality people they are, the togetherness that they have," Holtz said after Wednesday's practice. "The way they're embracing this week has really been a positive thing. It's been neat to watch and transpire from a togetherness standpoint. ... There's just a lot of hope on that football team."
Holtz said his seniors have kept the team together and positive, and his only other experience with such sustained adversity was going 0-11 on his father Lou's coaching staff at South Carolina in 1999. The next year, the Gamecocks won eight games and played in the Outback Bowl. He is hoping for a similar rebound from a young Bulls team in 2013.
"You never know how a team's going to react," Holtz said. "Their attitude, going through these hard times, is what is building the future. ... You build a product, and the wins will come. I kind of see that type of similarity (to the '99 team) with the youth on this football team and some of the things we're growing. I'm really impressed with the way this team has handled the adversity that's been on them."
There has been continued public criticism of Holtz as the losses mount, and USF athletic director Doug Woolard has said he won't publicly address the coaching situation until after the season is completed, though it looks like Holtz will be back for another season. Asked about the slew of firings across college football, including some coaches coming off winning seasons, Holtz said every coaching situation is unique.
"Every place is different," Holtz said. "It's hard for me to comment on other schools. I don't know the health of the program. It's not always in wins and losses that you can see success or failure or whether the growth is positive or whether it's negative."
NEW OPENERS: USF has agreed to deals to play I-AA teams for two upcoming season openers, with Western Carolina coming to Tampa in 2014 and Towson coming in 2016. The Bulls already have McNeese State on the schedule for 2013 and Florida A&M for 2015. The Bulls have their 2013 schedule complete, and are in the process of selecting the final two opponents for the 2014 season.
THIS AND THAT: Holtz said that defensive end Aaron Lynch, the promising transfer from Notre Dame who is sitting out this season, is among a couple of players being held out of practices recently so they can focus on finishing the fall semester strong in the classroom, spending an extra four hours in a study hall each morning. "Let's make sure we put in the time, effort and energy," Holtz said. ... Asked about Louisville leaving the Big East to join the ACC, Holtz said "It seems like a new day in college athletics. I don't know where the end is, or if there is one," Holtz said. "Everybody thought at the end of last year, 'OK, the dust settled. We're pretty much set. Let's develop these new traditions and rivalries, this league, how it's going to do. I don't think we're done. I think everybody has to continue to build their program from top to bottom. You don't know what's going to happen in the future."