Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Colleges

Don't take solace from USF Bulls' close defeat

TAMPA

They were plucky, if that sort of thing satisfies you.

They played hard, if that is your goal.

It was close for a while, if that makes you happy.

On the other hand, USF lost, which means the general dissatisfaction that has enveloped the program will probably continue for a while yet. Granted, this time, the Bulls lost to a very good Florida State team, one that looks underrated at No. 4 in the nation, and yes, they showed a bit more fire along the way.

Still, USF has beaten enough quality teams over the years to take any sort of reward in losing.

FSU 30, USF 17. How you feel about the final margin — encouraged or enraged — probably reflects how you feel about the program these days.

As for USF coach Skip Holtz, well, he seemed positively skippy after the game. He kept talking about how hard his team competed. And let's face it: If you had watched the loss to Ball State up close, you might feel the same.

"Our players competed their tails off," Holtz said. "A lot of naysayers may only see the end result, but I was proud of the way we played. We got better as a football team."

Really? USF lost. By 13. At home. It has now lost three in a row and 10 of its past 13 games.

Just asking here, but isn't it about time for the next memorable victory to occur for the Bulls?

It has been a while, hasn't it? Time was, USF seemed to knock off one of the brand name programs all the time. Auburn. West Virginia. Notre Dame. It would come out with energy and daring, and it would make a few plays, and it would build on its reputation as a giant killer. Kansas. Louisville. Miami.

And one more.

FSU.

For a week, USF has been reliving its 2009 upset of the Seminoles. You remember. Good day, that. It was the day when the Bulls went to Tallahassee with a freshman quarterback and a stadium filled with doubters. After the game, the USF faithful walked away believing their program had arrived, that it had achieved toe-to-toe status with the big schools of the state.

Yep, that was the victory that was supposed to propel the USF program forward. It was going to establish credibility, and it was going to improve recruiting, and it was going to raise standards.

And the Bulls turned it into … zip.

In a strange way, it was that victory over FSU that led to this loss to FSU. No, not because of anything as cliched as revenge. That's always a bigger factor in the stands than it is on the field, anyway.

Looking back, however, USF didn't build nearly enough momentum from that victory. As a program, it is 19-19 since that game. The recruiting has not gotten noticeably better. B.J. Daniels, the freshman quarterback, hasn't gotten noticeably more accurate. Maybe some of that momentum was lost when Jim Leavitt was replaced by Holtz, but at the moment, USF looks like a team that is running in place.

Ask yourself: How much better is this program today because of that big win in Tallahassee?

For much of Saturday night, FSU looked like a beatable team. You might say the Seminoles were back to not being back. They sputtered. They had a punt blocked. They were forced to bring a safety into the box and play man to man during the second half. Given all of that, you might expect that to drive the Bulls — and Holtz — a little crazy.

Here's the sad part: The Bulls were better Saturday night. They played harder, and they had more passion. Which makes you wonder: Where was this in other games? Rutgers, perhaps? Ball State?

At USF, something has to happen for the program to re-gather its momentum. It has to beat a big team on a late night in front of a big crowd. It needs to reclaim its fire and its future. After that happens, this time, it needs to build upon it.

For the night? Yes, the Bulls competed harder, if that was your goal.

On the other hand, they finished second in the game.

Even for the yaysayers, that shouldn't be good enough.

Listen to Gary Shelton from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays on 98.7-FM The Fan.

Comments
FSU starter Josh Ball faces Title IX suspension over dating violence accusation

FSU starter Josh Ball faces Title IX suspension over dating violence accusation

Florida State starting offensive tackle Josh Ball faces a university suspension after a Title IX investigation found him responsible for dating violence.The suspension came to light in a Facebook post Monday afternoon by Sandra Sellers, an FSU studen...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Willie Taggart will take more fourth-down chances than Jimbo Fisher. But how many more?

Willie Taggart will take more fourth-down chances than Jimbo Fisher. But how many more?

TAMPA — Florida State coach Willie Taggart fielded an interesting question near the end of his Q&A with fans during Sunday's booster stop at Armature Works.Are the Seminoles going to be going for it more on fourth down?"We will be goin...
Published: 05/21/18
Athlon: Florida Gators, FSU and Miami will all finish in top 20

Athlon: Florida Gators, FSU and Miami will all finish in top 20

One of the first big nuggets from preseason college football magazines is out: Athlon's top 25.The site considers its rankings a prediction of where teams will be at the end of the year, not the beginning.Alabama and Clemson are 1-2 (no shock). Miami...
Published: 05/21/18
Taggart delivers a bolt to area

Taggart delivers a bolt to area

TAMPA — After spending four years as USF’s football coach, Willie Taggart knows what to expect this time of year in the area, so it’s no surprise how he began a chat with reporters Sunday before a booster stop at Armature Works."Go Lightning," he sai...
Published: 05/20/18
Willie Taggart: ‘Pretty cool’ to be back in Tampa as FSU coach

Willie Taggart: ‘Pretty cool’ to be back in Tampa as FSU coach

TAMPA – After spending four years as USF's football coach, Willie Taggart knows what to expect this time of year in the area, so it's no surprise how he began a chat with reporters Sunday before a booster stop at Armature Works."Go Lightning," ...
Published: 05/20/18
ACC football announces early kickoff times, TV info for FSU, Miami games

ACC football announces early kickoff times, TV info for FSU, Miami games

The ACC has released some kickoff and TV information for the first three weeks of the season:Week 1 (previously announced)Miami vs. LSU (in Arlington, Texas): Sunday, Sept. 2, 7:30 p.m., ABCVirginia Tech at Florida State: Monday, Sept. 3, 8 p.m., ESP...
Published: 05/18/18
Why FSU playing Boise State in Jacksonville is a smart risk

Why FSU playing Boise State in Jacksonville is a smart risk

Old, unofficial news is expected to become old, official news today with a formal announcement that Florida State and Boise State are kicking off the 2019 season in Jacksonville.  A lot has changed since the schools announced the series (FSU pla...
Published: 05/16/18
FSU-Boise State to open 2019 season in Jacksonville

FSU-Boise State to open 2019 season in Jacksonville

What had been an open secret for months is now open and shut: Group of Five power Boise State will face FSU at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville in the teams' 2019 opener.A formal announcement is expected Wednesday, but the '19 schedule on Boise's offi...
Published: 05/15/18
RHP Mark Moclair’s versatility proves valuable to University of Tampa

RHP Mark Moclair’s versatility proves valuable to University of Tampa

TAMPA — He’s the accidental pitcher who can’t be pigeonholed into a defined role. He’s a well-spoken economics major who morphs into fire-breathing intensity on the mound. And he’s one of the biggest reasons why the University of Tampa Spartans are p...
Published: 05/15/18
Police: Florida Gators recruit Justin Watkins kicked female’s car, broke her phone

Police: Florida Gators recruit Justin Watkins kicked female’s car, broke her phone

One of the Florida Gators' top incoming recruits was released from jail early Wednesday after police allege he kicked a female's car and broke her phone after an argument.Justin Watkins — a four-star athlete from Clermont — and ...
Published: 05/10/18