USF coach Skip Holtz understands that a win tonight against Rutgers would be a milestone for the Bulls, just not the kind that he — nor anyone else in the current Big East in 62 years — is used to celebrating.
"It would be a great mark to be able to reach," Holtz said Monday of what would be USF's 100th win. "I'd love to reach that mark (tonight) for a number of reasons, some selfish, some program-oriented."
When Holtz was a young head coach at Connecticut in 1996 — before USF played its first game — he was on hand as the Huskies celebrated 100 years of football. And UConn is a young program by Big East standards — Syracuse, for instance, celebrated its 100th win more than 100 years ago, and Pittsburgh and Rutgers got theirs in 1911. Pittsburgh's 100th came four years before Pop Warner — yes, that Pop Warner — coached the Panthers. Aside from USF, the newest program in the Big East is Louisville, which got win No. 100 in 1948, before USF was founded.
Holtz, remembering that he has earned just four of USF's 99 wins, has been steady in his praise of former coach Jim Leavitt, who went 95-57 before he was fired in January.
"I think it's a real testament to Coach Leavitt, to so many of the players who have been through here, and to this community, to watch this program grow at the pace that it's grown," Holtz said. "I think it shows the unlimited potential of this program and what it can become."
That the Bulls can get to 100 wins with only two coaches shows how much college football has changed in a century — the other seven Big East schools all needed at least 11 coaches to get to 100 wins, not including many 19th-century seasons at several schools where no head coach was even acknowledged.
With a win in their next eight games, the Bulls will be the fastest of the eight Big East teams to get to 100 wins — Pittsburgh needed 168 games to get there in 1911, just ahead of West Virginia, which needed 171 to get there in 1914. The slowest? Rutgers, USF's opponent and potential spoiler, which needed 285 games to get to victory No. 100 in 1911.
Big win: Women's soccer picked up a key win Sunday, upsetting Georgetown to reach Friday's semifinal of the Big East championships, where it will face top seed Marquette.
"I felt like they were ready to take on a big leap this season," coach Denise Schilte-Brown said of her junior-laden lineup, which has picked up valuable experience the past two seasons.
USF (12-4-3) has allowed only one goal in the past five matches, and the strong finish has the Bulls in contention for an NCAA Tournament at-large berth.
"I think they feel confident that we're going to get an at-large bid, at minimum," Schilte-Brown said. "I think there's a feeling that we can win the Big East tournament. We're going to take it one game at a time and try to win that tournament. That's an exciting place."
This and that: Big news for Ken Eriksen's softball program, as USF will host the 2013 Big East championships in the Bulls' new softball stadium. The dates are May 9-11. The Bulls will host men's and women's tennis during the 2011-12 school year. … In the men's basketball exhibition win against Eckerd on Monday, former Bulls TE Quincy Okolie, now in his second season with the Tritons, had six points and two rebounds off the bench.