NEWPORT, R.I. — Skip Holtz doesn't put a lot of emphasis on a preseason media poll, but after being picked to finish third in the Big East, he can appreciate that the perception of USF is different than it was entering his first season.
"A year ago, we were sixth coming into the season," Holtz said at Big East media day. "I think a lot of people probably look at it and say here's a guy like (QB) B.J. Daniels going into his junior year, there's a couple more names that have been there and played some football. … I think Pittsburgh and West Virginia are both good teams, but it definitely shows a little bit of respect for the program as we're moving forward."
No Big East program made a bigger leap in expectations from last year than the Bulls, who came in behind West Virginia (21 of 24 first-place votes) and Pittsburgh (two). Told that USF had earned a single first-place vote, Holtz paused and asked, "Did I vote?" USF has only been picked higher once in its seven Big East preseason polls — the Bulls were picked second in 2008 — but earned more points in this year's poll than in '08.
That won't carry much weight with senior CB Quenton Washington, who said the Bulls had confidence in their position in the league before any polls.
"We want to be ranked at the end, when December rolls around," he said. "Preseason is preseason. It's a guess, really."
HEADED TO TEXAS: USF's first shot at new Big East rival TCU will come in 2012 in Fort Worth, with the Horned Frogs coming to Raymond James Stadium in 2013. The Bulls won at TCU in 2004 in double overtime when the teams were rivals in Conference USA, but it won't be easy next season; TCU is 36-3 at home since that 2004 loss.
THIS AND THAT: USF G Jeremiah Warren enjoyed Monday's clambake social, matching what he was told was a Big East record by eating seven lobsters. He stopped there because the caterers ran out. "I grew up in Panama City, so seafood is something I grew up on," the 327-pound senior said. … Rutgers' roster includes walk-on long snapper Stephen Belichick, son of Patriots coach Bill. He spent the previous four seasons on the Scarlet Knights' lacrosse team. … Holtz will release USF's fall roster at a news conference today, and players will report for preseason camp tonight, with the first practice Thursday afternoon. The team leaves Saturday for 12 days of workouts in Vero Beach.