Less than two weeks before the start of preseason camp, the odds of USF winning the 2014 national title are reaching Powerball-type probability.
At least according to one online betting service.
The Bulls are a 500-1 shot to capture college football's inaugural playoff, according to bovada.lv, which offers a variety of online wagering services including a sports book. While those odds may not seem unrealistic for a team in a non-power conference coming off a 2-10 season, they're five times longer than they were six months ago, before Willie Taggart signed the American Athletic Conference's top recruiting class.
On Jan. 7, USF's odds -- according to the same site -- were 100-1. So what happened?
"When we open odds in January, there is a lot of speculation on our part on how we expect our bettors to bet certain teams and we did feel that since they may be an improved team we would open them at 100-1 initially and take a few bets," Bovada sports book manager Kevin Bradley said through a publicist.
"After months of taking no money on them, they kept drifting off to 250-1 to 300-1 and now at 500-1, we still cannot write a bet on them. That said, we are always weary (sic) of going over 500-1 on teams, especially with the new playoff format, and considering (national title runner-up) Auburn was 500-1 preseason last year, we can really expose ourselves."
Alas, a sports book bound with silver lining.
USF's national title odds are the same as Auburn's last season.
Former USF men's and women's soccer coach Logan Fleck, who led both teams simultaneously at one point in the mid-1990s, died Sunday of complications from diabetes.
Mr. Fleck, the men's coach at Stetson at the time of his death, was 54. He was preceded in death by his dad -- a former Lehigh University soccer coach -- and a younger brother, Derek, who died in 2003.
"Probably the three of them are playing a little one-on-one up in heaven right now," said Mary Beth Fleck, Mr. Fleck's younger sister....
The following is my projected order of finish in the American Athletic Conference, submitted upon request to the league office earlier today. The official preseason poll will be released at the conference's media day July 29 in Newport, RI (Yes, football is here.).
To elicit debate, I've added a one-sentence rationale for each team's position in the standings.
'Cats are loaded offensively, and Tommy Tuberville's defenses are traditionally rugged
I waffled here because of the Knights' uncertainty at QB, but nine starters return on defense
3. East Carolina
For my money, Shane Carden's the league's best QB, and Justin Hardy's the top wideout
Lost amid the Cougars' pass-happy style is a defense that forced a nation-best 43 turnovers in '13
The Green Wave, who made a bowl game last year, possess an outstanding secondary and promising freshman QB
Stronger, speedier Bulls will at least double their '13 win total. I just don't know if they'll triple it.
Mustangs have some replenishing to do, but the newcomers are promising and June Jones knows his stuff
My sleeper team in the league. In their last five games of '13, Owls tied or led entering fourth quarter
All signs suggest new coach Bob Diaco will get it done in Storrs. But offseason loss of workhorse TB Lyle McCombs hurts
Tigers made defensive strides in '13, but the offense scored more than 21 points only three times
The Golden Hurricane, 3-9 last year, must replace virtually their entire offensive backfield...
After consecutive bye weeks, your friendly neighborhood USF beat writer is no longer beat. To the contrary, the figurative battery power has been restored to full capacity.
Time to brief you on the latest, and recap what transpired locally in July's first half"
* Apparently, the speculation about USF basketball coach Orlando Antigua facing old boss John Calipari has segued into reality. USF spokesman Steven Schoon confirmed Saturday he Bulls will face Kentucky as part of a doubleheader at Miami's American Airlines Arena on Nov. 27, 2015.
USF never has faced Kentucky in men's basketball. Antigua spent the past five seasons on Calipari's UK staff, and served with him one season (2008-09) at Memphis. ESPN first reported the event, which also will include a Memphis-Ohio State matchup, earlier Saturday.
* Former USF ace Sara Nevins came within two outs of a complete game in Team USA's 5-2 triumph against Canada in the final of the General Tire World Cup of Softball IX last weekend in Irvine, Calif. Nevins, who totaled four appearances in Team USA's seven games (all victories), notched a club-best 0.53 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 13.1 innings.
The team currently is competing in the Canadian Open, where it has won six of its first seven through Saturday afternoon. Nevins has worked four tournament innings, striking out six and allowing a run on three hits.
* Bulls OL Thor Jozwiak, sidelined all of last season with a heart condition, is among 182 nationwide nominees for the AFCA Allstate Good Works Team. The team, composed of 11 Division I players and 11 total from the lower divisions, recognizes those who distinguish themselves with
charitable involvement and community service.
A member of USF's football unity council and student-athlete advisory committee, Jozwiak has spoken at area schools, visited with ill kids at local children's hospitals and spoken with veterans injured in combat. The 22-player Good Works team will be announced in September.
* The American Athletic Conference Football Summer Kickoff and Media Day will be held July 29 in Newport, RI. Each league coach, and players from each school, will attend. WR Andre Davis and LB Reshard Cliett are believed to be the Bulls' representatives, but that hasn't been confirmed by
USF. Players report for preseason camp Aug. 3 and begin practice the following day....
07/17/14 Human Interest
Bulldog Boxing and Fitness occupies part of a warehouse complex on a remote rural patch where east Tampa nudges against Brandon. A gym still in its crawling stage, it remains more tidy than dingy.
None of the chains bearing the weight of the nine heavy bags squeal. The floorboards of the gym's lone ring emit nary a creak. The three semitrailer truck tires, which patrons use for flipping, appear factory fresh. The place is devoid of grime....
The Florida Gators have the latest equipment for reviewing game film, while Florida State gets an edge by using expensive GPS technology to track the most efficient movements for football players at practice.
Schools in the SEC, ACC and other major conferences seemingly have all the advantages, multimillion-dollar practice facilities for football and basketball and chartered planes for travel. Money pours in from television networks, including branded entities such as the Big Ten Network....
They staged this early June USF booster luncheon in a Lakeland clubhouse overlooking a golf course. A fitting venue, considering the series of gimme putts comprising the question-answer session.
New Bulls athletic director Mark Harlan and his entourage, including football coach Willie Taggart and men's basketball coach Orlando Antigua, had all the standard inquiries lobbed their way. They were asked about conference affiliations and on-campus stadiums, the potential of incoming freshmen and progress of returners....
Proposed NCAA legislation would revamp how the schools in the most prestigious conferences are governed.
In a nutshell, what is "autonomy"?
As it relates to college athletics, it's the desire of the schools in the "Power Five" conferences (SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12) to create their own legislation that would provide their student-athletes with unprecedented benefits and resources. Among those benefits: full cost of attendance....
Take in a movie. Finish that novel. Prune the plumbagos. Trust us, you won't miss one pitch, putt or post route.
Today, there aren't any.
This is when the unofficial 24-hour dead period for American sports is observed. The NBA and NHL seasons have ended. The World Cup is over. NFL camps haven't yet begun, and Major League Baseball — on the back end of the All-Star break — has no games....
Barely a week into July, USF already has three blips on the nation's preseason radar, with more likely to materialize.
Two Bulls seniors -- WR Chris Dunkley and C Austin Reiter -- and junior TE Sean Price have been named to preseason awards watch lists. Dunkley, one of the American Athletic Conference's top return specialists, is among 47 players on the watch list for the Paul Hornung Award, given annually to the most versatile player in college football.
Meantime, Reiter is on the Rimington Trophy watch list -- presented each year to the nation's top center -- for the second consecutive season. Price is on the list for the Mackey Award given annually to the country's top tight end.
Dunkley, who has changed his number from 88 to 1 this season, averaged 22.6 yards per kick return and 24.2 per punt return in 2013. His junior-year highlights included 171 all-purpose yards at Houston, a 50-yard TD on a punt return against SMU, and a 13-yard TD on a reverse play at UCF.
Reiter, who has added more than 20 pounds to his 6-foot-3 frame (to 295) this offseason, has started every game the last two years. In 2013, he tied for the team lead with 735 snaps played....
report: anthony likes plans of knicks
All-Star F Carmelo Anthony probed Knicks management on the franchise's plans and left his final free agency meeting largely aligned with president Phil Jackson, yahoosports.com reported.
Anthony questioned Jackson and coach Derek Fisher on Thursday in Los Angeles, and Anthony's increased confidence with the Knicks — which includes a maximum-allowed contract offer of five years and $129 million — has strengthened the team's chances of re-signing him....
Former University of Florida golf captain Steven Bradley, who helped lead the Gators to the 1999 SEC title, as been named men's coach at USF, the Bulls announced Friday.
An Ocala Forest graduate who helped lead the Wildcats to the Class 5A state title in 1994, Bradley replaces Chris Malloy, who stepped down after four seasons to become coach at Ole Miss, his alma mater.
"I was born in Bradenton and went to high school in Ocala, so I'm a Florida boy," said Bradley, who has spent the past three seasons as coach at Mercer....
Exactly one month before USF's players report for preseason camp, the Bulls have received an 11th-hour addition to one of their neediest defensive spots.
Former Virginia Tech signee Kevin Bronson, a three-star defensive end from Delray Beach who never enrolled in Blacksburg, will start Summer B classes at USF on Monday. He'll be eligible for this season, the school announced.
"Kevin is a great young man and a player whose size and athleticism fit very well in our defensive system," Coach Willie Taggart said in a USF news release. "We recruited him very heavily leading up to signing day and are happy that some things evolved and he now has the opportunity to be a Bull."
The evolution commenced less than a week ago, when Hokies coaches informed Bronson on Friday that he did not academically qualify. According to the Palm Beach Post, Bronson knew his college-entrance test scores didn't meet Virginia Tech standards, but he was made to believe it wouldn't be an issue.
"Virginia Tech did make it known that there was a possibility head coach Frank Beamer would have to go in front of a committee to speak on behalf of Kevin," Don Hanna, Bronson's coach at Delray Beach Village Academy, told the Post....
Count USF linebackers coach Raymond Woodie among the Bulls enrolled in the Summer B session.
Only the 'B' stands for Bucs in his case.
Woodie, 40, was among four coaches chosen from a nationwide pool of applicants for the 2014 Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship Program. Selected by the Buccaneers, he'll work alongside the team's coaching and scouting staffs when Tampa Bay's training camp commences July 20.
His internship lasts two weeks. USF begins preseason drills Aug. 4.
“Wow, it’s a great opportunity,” Woodie said in a USF news release. “There is so much information you can learn, and I’m going to be there like a sponge. I want to absorb a lot, take a lot of notes and just come in and incorporate.”
Woodie, named the American Athletic Conference's top recruiter by two national scouting services earlier this year, engaged in a lengthy application process that began in April. Bulls coach Willie Taggart, who interned with the Eagles and Raiders early in his career; and defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan gave hearty recommendations.
A former Palmetto High and Bethune-Cookman linebacker/safety, Woodie is entering his second season on USF's staff, and his fifth season as a Taggart assistant....
The morning after his second shaky cameo for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, USF right-handed ace Jimmy Herget learned his brief stint with the club has ended.
Herget did not make the squad's final 24-man roster released Monday. On Sunday night, he allowed four runs in an inning in the team's 7-5 loss to the Peninsula Pilots -- a collegiate summer-league team -- in Hampton, Va.
It was his second appearance in the club's seven-game Red, White & Blue Tour through the Coastal Plain League. In Herget's only other appearance, six nights before, he allowed three runs on as many hits in two innings in an 11-6 win against the Thomasville (N.C.) HiToms.
His second appearance was delayed two nights by rain along the Eastern seaboard.
"Let it fuel the fire and rise up from it," Herget tweeted Monday morning.
A first-team All-American Athletic Conference selection this past season, Herget set a Bulls record with a season ERA of 1.26. His 1.48 is lowest in program history among players with at least 25 starts....