News, notes, any way you slice it ...
The fun news Thursday was that the ever-catchy Birmingham Bowl, perhaps tired of the Poulan Weedeater folks not returning calls, picked up a title sponsor and new name for its inaugural game: come Dec. 23, two teams will have the privilege of playing in the PapaJohns.com Bowl. And USF certainly looks to be one of them.
Given that USF is playing in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on Saturday, the commercial overload is getting deep-dish thick all the sudden. Papa John's is based in Louisville, so it's a smart name-recognition deal on the stadium. And I'm guessing the bowl buy came on the cheap, what with the game barely five weeks away. The Birmingham newspaper had written that the starting price was $500,000, but that they were willing to come down to between $350k and $425k. Not exactly a strong negotiating position. Crazier still is that four other bowls don't have title sponsors, including two more Big East ties, the Texas Bowl and the International Bowl.
Anyway, papajohnsbowl.com (sing with me: "come see Papa John's Bowl, by the riverside ...") is much, much better than birminghambowl.com was. Weather, directions, charity info, all the stuff a bowl site should get. I don't think USF will know its bowl matchup until Dec. 3, after the BCS at-large mess has cleared and the Big East knows whether a second team and/or Notre Dame is in a BCS bowl.
Former Bulls news: Fan favorite J.R. Reed, cut this week by the Rams, will work out for the Indianapolis Colts on Tuesday, according to agent Jonathan Kline. Reed, making an amazing recovery from a terrible leg injury, wasn't bad at all for St. Louis, averaging 20.4 yards on 17 kickoff returns and making five tackles as well.
Injury update: Sophomore Brouce Mompremier, USF's top backup linebacker, will miss his second game in a row with a shoulder injury. Another player not making the trip -- and I can't recall if he's played only on special teams or not at all this year -- is junior cornerback Courtney Denson. Denson's been in Miami this week, mourning the loss of his friend and Miami Central teammate, Bryan Pata, the Hurricanes player who was shot and killed. Safety Carlton Williams was limping a bit coming out of practice, but Jim Leavitt said he'd simply had his foot stepped on in Wednesday's practice, and he would be fine. While I'm talking injuries, freshman basketball player Amu Saaka looked fine at practice Thursday and should be a go to make his Bulls debut against South Carolina State on Friday. Those Bulldogs, by the way, played South Carolina close this week, so don't go taking them lightly.
I've got some somewhat bad news on the recruiting front: I'm no longer counting Cape Coral running back Rickey Anderson Jr. as a USF commitment, simply because the Bulls haven't offered him yet. Anderson told the Times and later USFnation.com last week that he had accepted a scholarship offer, but he confirmed Thursday night that the offer hasn't actually come yet. Anderson, as we told you last week, is recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL, and while he definitely wants to come to USF, it seems the Bulls are still in wait-and-see mode, at a crucial position for this recruiting class. This is a frustrating aspect of covering recruiting, in that you're relying on teenagers to answer questions honestly and directly and that isn't always the case. Anderson certainly seems like a good kid, and he remains in steady contact with USF running backs coach Carl Franks.
What else? USF picked up a single vote in this week's Harris Poll, and I can tell you it isn't former USF athletic director Lee Roy Selmon. Selmon voted in last year's Harris Poll but doesn't have a ballot this year. With such a large panel and closed ballots, it'll be tough to find out who the USF voter is, but Selmon, for one, says thanks for the vote of confidence.