Mayor, Woolard make it a banner day
(Update: Click here for some great video from Friday morning's downtown celebration.)
TAMPA -- If he gets nothing else out of this whole wild week, USF athletic director Doug Woolard can now say he got to ride on a fire-truck ladder.
Woolard and Tampa mayor Pam Iorio, addressing a downtown gathering of excited USF fans, took a precarious walk along a Tampa Fire Rescue truck, stepped into the bucket and rode up maybe 50 feet to secure a large banner on the side of the municipal building Friday morning. "GO USF," the banner reads, with the Bulls' iconic "U" logo. "Tampa's proud of you!"
Iorio, a USF alum, got the crowd going in eager anticipation of Friday night's prime-time showdown between the No. 18 Bulls and No. 5 West Virginia before a sellout crowd at Raymond James Stadium.
"Are you ready for the Bulls to beat West Virginia?" Iorio said. "We are so proud of our Bulls. Most of us can remember back way before USF even had a football team. But once we got that team, boy, did the spirit start growing. In 11 short years, USF has accomplished what no other team has ever accomplished in the United States. We love our Bulls, and we want to show it. So today is Green and Gold Day in the city of Tampa and beyond. Even in West VIrginia, it's Green and Gold Day."
Woolard, wearing a green USF polo under a black jacket, thanked fans for their support in making the sellout crowd possible.
"This is what it's all about, college football and the atmosphere it can create. We couldn't be where we are without all of you," Woolard said.
About 20 members of USF's "Herd of Thunder" marching band were in attendance (with a small number, is it a Pride of Thunder? Gaggle?) as well as a few cheerleaders and members of the Sun Dolls dance squad.
Even the lone misstep of the morning was a fun one, as Iorio called the dance squad the "Sun Dials," but she took that in stride.