Two I-AAs in '09? USF not alone in 'misfortune'
Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Texas Tech humbly did it last fall. Duke and North Carolina have chosen to do it this season.
So if USF indeed does have to fill its 2009 schedule with a second Division I-AA team, the Bulls won’t be alone, knowing one of those two wins won’t count toward the six required for bowl eligibility.
"I don’t believe any school decides to play two (I-AA) schools in a given year," said Big East associate commissioner Nick Carparelli. "They clearly were put in that position not by choice, but by misfortune, and I don’t think anyone can fault them for that."
The Bulls are in the uncomfortable position because Florida International has bought out the final game in a three-game series, just seven months before kickoff. The Panthers had a contractual right to buy out the game for $200,000, but doing so on short notice leaves the Bulls scrambling to find a final home game for its upcoming season.
USF officials have declined to comment, but what makes the FIU situation all the more a slap in the face is that FIU backed out of the game to sign a home-and-home series with Rutgers, a Big East rival that, even with FIU, will likely have two I-AA teams on the schedule this fall.
FIU coach Mario Cristobal was an assistant under Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, and the Scarlet Knights have recruited the Miami area heavily, so it’s a win-win for both programs, all at USF’s expense. Last fall, USF brought a nationally ranked team into Miami for the grand opening of FIU’s new stadium, which despite seating only 18,000 fans was still not sold out.
Rutgers has beaten USF three years in a row, but moves like this do as much to stoke a rivalry as anything on the scoreboard.
-- Remember all the fuss about USF (gasp!) taking buses to Miami when the Bulls played the Hurricanes in the Orange Bowl in 2005? Well, Miami is returning the favor, as they'll be busing to games at USF and Central Florida this fall, saving $140,000 as a result.