Introducing the most elaborate USF spring game ever
Spring football games can often amount to little more than glorified practices, with coaches focusing on player development and less worrying about creating an actual game with specific teams or scoring.
Not so for first-year USF coach Willie Taggart.
His first spring game is April 13 at Raymond James Stadium, and on Wednesday morning, he unveiled an elaborate level of detail -- somehow equal parts intensely competitive and fun -- that will go into creating the Green and White rosters for the game.
"We're going to have a game," Taggart said. "It'll be competitive. I really want to get everyone to play, not necessarily with the guys they've been playing against all year, but someone new. They have to rely on their teammates. There are going to be plenty of times during the season where someone goes down and someone has to step up and play with someone you're not accustomed to. It's going to be interesting to see which guys get picked, who's going to be the No. 1 pick ... I'm really excited about it."
Defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan and defensive backs coach Ron Cooper have been selected as the head coaches for the Green and White teams, respectively, and they select their own coordinators and assistants. Staff members have been sorted out, all the way down to sports information personnel.
Is there a draft, you ask? There certainly is, but first, there's literally a "free agency" period that wraps up Thursday at noon. Bresnahan and Cooper have the right to "sign" one offensive and one defensive player each, getting the best players ahead of the draft. Taggart, who proudly calls himself the commissioner of this spring setup, said coaches are empowered to offer all kinds of perks to land their most coveted free agent: a first-class seat for a road-game flight, for instance, or the right to eat first at a team meal, or even get a hotel room to yourself.
Who will these four players be? Is it the best player? The best leader? The player most ahead of his top backup at a position? USF will announce the four free-agent signees on Thursday, and yes, there's a coin flip Thursday to determine who gets the first pick in Saturday's draft, which will take place after the scrimmage. Thirty players will be taken with the team present -- making it aware to all who the most prized among them are -- and then the rest of the draft will take place after the team has left the draft room.
His assistants have embraced the fun of the spring game, so much so we have actual espionage to report. I've been told the Green staff left a cellphone in a meeting room this week specifically to record the private war-room discussions of the White staff as they ponder the upcoming draft. We'll have more on the craziness as the rosters begin to develop this week ...