USF makes biggest jump in coaches' poll
I'm here in the Philadelphia Airport Marriott, waiting for a 4:20 flight back home that I can't check in for until 1 p.m. or so, so it's a good time to get caught up on things I've been meaning to post. Some technical difficulties in the last 24 hours -- site that runs our blogs, Typepad.com, wasn't letting me log in, but I figured out a way around that by downloading Firefox Mozilla onto my laptop, and that did the trick. I've always been an Internet Explorer guy, but this could be a turning point ...
-- Here's one you don't hear anymore: I found out about USF being in the preseason USA Today Coaches' Poll ... from an actual newspaper. Not a newspaper's website, but the actual printed page, left outside my hotel door this morning. I'd called in a quick update, but now can write a little more about USF's first-ever preseason ranking in one of the two major polls.
By being ranked No. 21, USF made the biggest jump of any school from the final coaches' poll of 2007, which had the Bulls with only six vote-points, essentially ranked 35th. That jump of 14 spots just edges Clemson, which was No. 22 in last year's final poll but is now No. 9; Florida jumped 11 spots to No. 5 and Wisconsin jumped nine to No. 12.
USF is the highest-ranked of three teams in this new poll who weren't ranked in the final poll last season, along with Wake Forest and Fresno State. The three schools that dropped out of the poll fell hard, thanks to losing veteran quarterbacks: Boston College, losing Matt Ryan, went from 11th to 31st; Hawaii, losing Colt Brennan and coach June Jones, fell from 17th to not getting a single vote; Cincinnati, which likely has lost Ben Mauk but is waiting on a final appeal, went from 20th to 37th. Biggest drops among the current top 25? Kansas, Virginia Tech and Tennessee all fell six spots.
The poll certainly validates that USF is seen as the top challenger to West Virginia, the only other Big East team in the poll, at No. 8. The next league team in "also receiving votes" is Rutgers, clear down at No. 30, with one-seventh as many vote-points as the Bulls. Pittsburgh would be 33rd, Cincinnati 37th, Connecticut 39th and Louisville 49th (?). Two nonconference opponents got votes, with Kansas at No. 13 -- didn't realize that the Jayhawks had the best record in I-A football last season -- and then Central Florida tied with Louisville at No. 49 with two vote-points. I'll point out here that both Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe and UCF coach George O'Leary, like USF's Jim Leavitt, have ballots in the coaches' poll.
-- USF's men's basketball team will open its second season under coach Stan Heath with exhibitions against the University of West Florida and the University of Tampa.
The Bulls will face UWF in the Sun Dome at Nov. 4 and crosstown rival UT on Nov. 10. USF has played exhibitions against Division II Saint Leo before each of the three seasons since joining the Big East. The Bulls open the regular season on Nov. 14 at home against Southern Methodist. A 12-game nonconference schedule will wrap up Dec. 27, with the dates for the 18-game Big East schedule still unannounced.
-- A few transactions on the administrative end for USF, as associate athletic director Amy Haworth, who has overseen the athletic program's academic support staff, has added the title of Senior Women's Administrator that belonged to Barbara Sparks-McGlinchy until her retirement this summer. Bill McGillis, who had been senior associate AD for external affairs, has a new title of executive associate AD, and former USF pitcher Scott Glaser, most recently an assistant AD, has been promoted to become a seventh associate AD, in charge of facilities and event management.
-- Couple of links: The Sarasota Herald-Tribune's Alan Dell has a good feature on receiver A.J. Love, who could be this year's breakout receiver; the same paper writes that Venice junior quarterback Trey Burton, who reportedly had an offer from USF, committed to Florida. My favorite line from that story identifies Burton as being a "6-foot-21/2, 215 pound quarterback," so if the "1/2" doesn't come through, it shows him as 6-foot-21 and 2,215 pounds, which I'd think would make him very tough to bring down. The Northwest Florida Daily News writes about defensive lineman Craig Marshall, who could contribute at end or tackle.