NEWPORT, R.I. — For Matt Grothe and George Selvie, the time is now.
And they know it.
Regardless of how much further Jim Leavitt takes the USF program, no matter what good things happen to the Bulls down the road, these two senior stars have one more shot at the college brass ring, a conference title and a BCS spot.
"They're very aware this is it — they're very aware of it," Leavitt said Tuesday, before the two seniors met the media at the annual Big East preseason event. "They know it and they know if they don't win it this year they aren't going to win a Big East championship."
The Bulls were picked fourth in the preseason media poll, picking up three first-place votes but coming in behind Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Cincinnati, and just ahead of Rutgers.
Pittsburgh received eight of 24 first-place votes and 161 points from the media panel. West Virginia had five first-place votes and defending champion Cincinnati the other eight.
"Me and George are so excited about the season and what it means to both of us to go out with a Big East championship," said Grothe, the quarterback and leader of the offense. "We both know we can do it. It's a matter of staying out of trouble on the field and playing well."
And keeping Selvie, who will receive his college degree Saturday, healthy would help — a lot. Last year, a high ankle sprain limited the defensive end for three-quarters of the season. He played, but probably shouldn't have. He's healthy now and it's no secret what that means.
"For us this is it," Selvie said. "It's now or never for me, there's no next year for me. We've (he and Grothe) done a lot of things for our program but this is our senior year. We've got to let it all hang loose. There's no tomorrow for us. There's no next year."
LATE START: Junior DE Jason Pierre-Paul isn't expected to be with the team when practice starts Thursday.
"He's finishing up some school," Leavitt said. "He may or may not report right away (for camp). It might put him out a little bit longer until he gets that done."
If Pierre-Paul misses too much preseason practice, he might redshirt, given USF's depth at defensive end.