TAMPA — USF quarterback Matt Grothe was able to joke after Saturday's game about UCF fans finding his cell phone number, getting it on national TV and bombarding him with calls, voice mail and text messages. But the antics went too far when someone made a threatening call Thursday to the cell phone of his father, Matt Grothe Sr.
Grothe's father said he got a call from a restricted number Thursday morning telling him to watch his back in the parking lot, saying they couldn't get to his son but they could get to him. He called USF, which provided added security, with an officer positioned at the top and bottom of their section at the game.
"Everything worked out fine. He's okay, and we got out with a win," Grothe Sr. said. "I guess it comes with the territory."
The Bulls took it seriously enough that Grothe's family was escorted in and out of the stadium by two uniformed officers who provide security for USF's team on the road. Grothe said he was aware of the threat before the game and used it for motivation in the Bulls' final scheduled matchup against the Knights.
"I knew it all. I knew my dad had gotten a call, and I think it helped a little with my motivation," he said. "Normally I get a little bit of jitters before the game, but I was just ready to go out there and play some football, take care of business."
Grothe threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for a game-high 54 yards, earning Big East offensive player of the week honors. He said the threats made him glad the Bulls aren't playing UCF anymore.
"There's a certain extent to where you can joke around about something, but you don't do that, especially since you can't win a football game against us," he said. "I don't like that school. It's one of the reasons I'm glad we're not playing anymore, because we're off to bigger and better things, teams that can hopefully say they're more of a rival."