Surprising intrigue at left tackle
Football coach Jim Leavitt continues to talk about redshirting senior left tackle Thed Watson, a preseason all-Big East selection, saying the year off would be best not only for Watson but for USF in the long term. Leavitt continues to sing the praises of not only redshirt freshman Danny Tolley, who could also wind up at left guard, but also junior walk-on Jared Carnes, USF's biggest lineman at 6-7 and 310 pounds.
"Carnes has overtaken Thed this summer, big time," Leavitt said Thursday. "Carnes looks good. We didn't play him last year because he was hurt. Thed might not even start last year if Carnes could have been healthy."
Carnes, a St. Pete Catholic grad, came to USF in 2004 from Division II Concord College in West Virginia as a 265-pound tight end and has put on 45 pounds in two seasons. He played in two games last season before he was sidelined with an arm injury. I asked Leavitt again if much of this talk was simply to motivate Watson this summer, but he said it's a real option this fall.
"You have to look at the big picture, not the third inning," he said. "(Watson) could be a real good player, but he if he got another year underneath him, he'd have a chance to be that much better."
-- Couple of odd notes from today's paper ... First, the Big East baseball tournament, held in Clearwater two months ago, likely won't be back in Florida in 2007. The league's associate commissioner for Olympic sports, James Siedliski, said the event has been offered to another Big East school -- I thought Louisville, but they say it isn't them either -- but that USF is a contender to host again in 2008-09. And soccer coach George Kiefer, whose team was ranked No. 11 nationally in one preseason poll, has lost a top recruit in Neven Subotic, who has signed a four-year pro contract with a team in Germany's Bundesliga.
-- Gary Parrish, Sportsline.com's new college basketball writer, got a slight dig in at USF basketball this week, talking about the plight of coaches on the less friendly end of the Big East. He writes:
"So while I can, for example, empathize with Robert McCullum's situation at South Florida -- it's never a good sign when you're in the same league with Connecticut while simultaneously begging for walk-ons on the school's official website -- I'm not willing to expand the NCAA Tournament just so one day he can maybe make the Field of 128 and keep his job. I just hope he's invested well."
McCullum has a depth problem for August, far more than he does for January and beyond. The Bulls just need two bodies so they can practice five-on-five before sending part of this year's team to Italy for six games. Don't be surprised if first-year director of basketball operations Reggie Kohn is out there playing some guard. As well-intended as the walk-on posting was, it's made USF a punch line on message boards and now on a prominent website.
-- USF's sports information department took some good-natured grief last summer when its football media guide failed to meet the NCAA's strange new slimmed-down standards. It wasn't the page-count maximum of 208 pages that tripped up the Bulls last year, but rather a page-size mandate -- sports information director John Gerdes joked about "self-reporting" the violation. I can report that this year's guide meets the NCAA specs, and environmental Bulls fans will be pleased to hear that they managed to trim four pages off the guide, down to a svelte 152.