With NCAA berth, fan gives up fire-Heath site
NASHVILLE, Tenn -- In late November, when USF lost at VCU by 23 points, Tampa's Pat Cotter had seen enough and launched firestanheath.com, spending the next three months posting stories after Bulls losses and lobbying for a change atop USF's men's basketball program.
Even as the Bulls continued winning and establishing themselves on the NCAA bubble, Cotter continued posting stories on his site, as well as leaving comments on the Times' USF blog. On Sunday night, after USF earned its first NCAA Tournament berth in 20 years, he conceded and deleted his site.
"I took it down," said Cotter, 44, who did not attend USF but said he went to eight home games this season. "I was waiting for them to let me down, but as soon as they made the tournament, I knew that he'll be there a long time. No one's going to fire him now."
Cotter, who works in tech support for a Tampa company, had actually tried to acquire the fire-Heath site in 2008, during Heath's second season with the Bulls, but in an e-mail to the Times and to USF athletic director Doug Woolard, he said it was still registered to a fan at Arkansas, where Heath was actually fired in 2007 before coming to USF. Cotter said Friday that while he considers himself a USF fan, he had such low expectations for this season he was hoping for a coaching change.
"Honestly, I thought it was going to be a horrible year," Cotter said. "I thought that because he was fired at Arkansas after five years, this was five years at USF, and if he tanks this year, they had to look at it. I'm pretty passionate about this. They're definitely my team, and I was pretty confident they weren't going to do well. I was wrong."
To fill the void left by the absence of the Heath site, Cotter went so far as to register USFbullsmessageboard.com on Thursday, and said he hopes to give Bulls fans another place where they can share their opinions -- positive or negative -- about USF teams. His last site saw its share of both from November until the Bulls' current postseason run.
"I stuck to my guns about Heath for a long time, but in the last few weeks, most people were pretty attacking," he said.