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Bowl picture for USF Bulls and Big East still cloudy

As a league, the Big East's bowl picture is still awkwardly wide-open — consider Pittsburgh, which could go to a BCS bowl with a win and losses by West Virginia and Connecticut. Or, should the Panthers lose Saturday, at 6-6 they could easily fall to an at-large berth, perhaps to the Little Caesar's Bowl in Detroit.

Where will USF (7-4) play its first bowl under Skip Holtz? St. Petersburg, once seemingly slotted for the Bulls, now looks like a match for Louisville, and with a home win Saturday, USF should be in position to land one of the league's top two non-BCS bowls.

The Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando is strongly considering Notre Dame, with the option of choosing the Fighting Irish once in the new four-year cycle. They could wait, hoping to get Notre Dame better than its 7-5 team this year, but they also must guard against it not being available at all in the remaining three years.

If USF beats UConn and West Virginia wins to get the league's BCS bid, USF would be in position to land in Charlotte Dec. 31 at the Meineke Car Care Bowl. With a victory Saturday, USF would have won five of six, and the familiarity of Holtz in North Carolina could help draw fans to see USF against an ACC team like Clemson.

Should the Bulls lose Saturday, they'd likely go to Birmingham, where they played against Holtz's East Carolina team in 2006. Playing in Birmingham would offer a tame SEC opponent such as Kentucky, and the Jan. 8 date would give Holtz the full allotment of 15 bowl practices, a nice benefit as he looks toward his second season.

St. Petersburg would have its first game without a local team — USF or Central Florida — but officials are confident that Louisville, playing in its first bowl game in four years, would travel well, and former Gators assistant Charlie Strong makes for a good storyline in his first game back in Florida. Southern Miss, with another former Gators assistant in Larry Fedora, has accepted a bid and brings a high-scoring offense (37.6).

ROUGH START: When former USF G Dominique Jones was picked in the first round of the NBA draft, it seemed to validate his decision to skip his senior season. But he has barely played as a rookie, scoring eight points in Dallas' first 17 games, and has been sent down to the Mavs' affiliate in the NBA Development League — a move designed to get him more regular playing time, if only for a few games. He'll be coached by Nancy Lieberman there and playing in cities like Tulsa and Fort Wayne. Probably not what he had in mind. …

REUNITED: UConn's No. 1 women's basketball team faces USF Thursday night in the Sun Dome, and coach Geno Auriemma is looking forward to seeing Holtz, who coached the Huskies in the mid '90s when Auriemma won his first national title in 1995. Auriemma joked Tuesday that his friend has been on a destructive path, first getting a win at Miami that prompted Randy Shannon's firing and now potentially keeping the Huskies from a BCS bowl if the Bulls win Saturday's football game.

"It's a tough week for him to go through — he just got a coach fired, now he's trying to get a team to not be allowed to go to the first big BCS bowl in the history of the school," Auriemma said. "At the end of this week, they're going to build a statue of him in front of the campus at South Florida, and he's going to be the most hated man on a couple campuses in this country."

Bowl picture for USF Bulls and Big East still cloudy 11/30/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 10:39pm]
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