In the wake of a 4-8 season, USF has experienced a football season-ticket sales decrease of roughly 20 percent from 2014, the school informed the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday.
As of July 16, the Bulls, who open their season at home Sept. 5 against Florida A&M, had sold 11,795 season tickets, approximately 3,000 fewer than last year's total (14,788). The figure doesn't include student tickets or corporate trade tickets.
While attributing the decrease to the program's recent struggles (four consecutive losing seasons), school officials remain optimistic for a number of reasons. A new function on USF's website, which allows visitors to chat live with a ticket-sales representative, remains busy, senior associate athletic director Andrew Goodrich said.
Some 11th-hour ticket sales also are anticipated.
"Hitting 80 percent (of the '14 total), it's not our goal for the year, but to be honest, I feel pretty good about it," said Goodrich, the Bulls' external-relations chief. "All things considered, you know, I kind of like where we are. The other thing is, I feel pretty good about the positive momentum. We're seeing a lot more upticks in traffic to our website; we keep an eye on that."
In March, the school launched the Bulls Club Champion Seating Program, which abolished the previous requirement of an up-front donation before a season-ticket purchase. The program automatically enrolls those who purchase season tickets in "donor areas" into the Bulls Club (USF's official booster organization).
For most, the new policy lowered season-ticket prices, though some longtime donors -- who had paid a modest annual up-front donation for nearly two decades -- reported a significant increase.
"We've never stopped trying to reach out to those (veteran season-ticket holders)," Goodrich said. "We've always tried to continue to get them on board. And quite frankly, a lot of them have renewed. And the truth is, we were able to identify seats where they could renew and actually pay less than what they paid last year.
"We really appreciate the fans that have renewed this year, we really do," Goodrich added. "Our fans have been through a lot the last several years, and we appreciate them. I want them to know that."
ANOTHER TRANSFER: Texas freshman ILB Cecil Cherry, a three-star recruit from Frostproof who spent only three days in the Longhorns' camp, reportedly is transferring to USF.
Cherry, who played last season at Lakeland's Victory Christian Academy, reported last week via Twitter he had been granted his release. On Tuesday, Cherry's father told ESPN.com he was transferring to USF. If he enrolls, he'll become the sixth player in less than a year to transfer to USF from a Power Five program.
SCRIMMAGE SETBACK: Upon reviewing Saturday's two-hour situational scrimmage, Coach Willie Taggart said the two quarterbacks dueling for the starting job -- sophomore Quinton Flowers and senior Steven Bench -- took a "step back."
Neither finished with an exceptionally high completion percentage, Taggart said. Bench had two long TDs, including a 95-yarder to Tyre McCants when the redshirt freshman was in single coverage, but threw two interceptions. Flowers was picked once.
"We didn't do a good job completing passes, either one of them," Taggart said.
"Both of them were really bad percentage-wise when it comes to completing passes. So we went back, studied that film and made sure our coaches are giving our guys what they can do...and not confusing 'em and making 'em something they're not."
On Tuesday morning, Taggart told radio station WDAE-AM he was nearing a decision on the starter.
AUDIBLE: "He's a young guy that's still learning but he's a heck of a football player. He goes out and competes his tail off and knows exactly what to do. He shows what he can do as a football player, so it's going to be important that we continue to develop him and bring him along, and I wouldn't be surprised if Mitchell helps us out this year as well." -- Taggart on freshman TE Mitchell Wilcox, a Tarpon Springs alumnus who has taken periodic first- and second-team reps this preseason