CLEARWATER — Fans of the University of South Florida Bulls will want to mark July 28 on their calendars and plan to be in Clearwater on Saturday.
Not only will there be a chance to celebrate the team early, but USF football coach Skip Holtz will make an appearance at Capogna's Dugout, where the fun begins with a USF Preseason Tailgate Party.
"I can't wait for the preseason tailgate party on Saturday," said Holtz. "It means football season is right around the corner. I love events like this because I get a chance to share in the enthusiasm of our fans while getting to interact with them."
Capogna's Dugout, a casual Italian family restaurant and sports bar, is gearing up for the event that is an inside tailgate party.
"It's our seventh annual, and we always look forward to it. It's a lot of fun," said Cathy Andrasek, a bartender who has worked at Capogna's for 13 years. "It's an awesome time. We bring out a special menu with burgers, salads, pizza, wings and more. And we serve it at a discount if you're part of the event and wearing your Bulls gear."
While the tailgate idea started when a group of friends who were Bulls fans gathered at Capogna's to watch the previous football season's highlights, the tailgate party has become a major preseason event. Fans come from far outside the Tampa Bay area to gear up for USF's upcoming football season.
"The main goal for the event is to have fun, and create new Bulls fans," says Jason "Mutt" Hubbard, 41, of Seminole. "I have to say how lucky we are that coach Holtz came to USF. He decided to keep the event going and is a hell of a speaker. He talks about the future of the program and takes questions from the crowd with an enthusiasm that's seldom matched."
While Holtz is a central part of the party, there will be plenty to do for fans of all ages. Besides the chance to watch last season's video highlights, merchandise from Bulls Outfitter will be on sale, and there will be games to play and prizes to win.
"It should be a great event," said Holtz. "So I hope everyone will come out as we get ready for the start of the 2012 season."
Correspondent Theodora Aggeles can be reached at [email protected]