Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. USF Bulls

Michael Kelly pitches indoor facility at USF luncheon

Stormy weather continues to disrupt the Bulls’ preseason football practice schedule.
USF's football players including linebacker Dwayne Boyles (11) dined with boosters Thursday at the Bulls Kickoff Luncheon at the Marriott Water Street in Tampa. [JOEY KNIGHT | Times]
Published Aug. 15
Updated Aug. 16

TAMPA — USF athletic director Michael Kelly stepped to a makeshift podium inside a sprawling ballroom Thursday and began talking about the weather to a vast audience of Bulls boosters.

It wasn’t so much a pleasantry as a plea.

USF, with no immediate plans to relocate from Florida’s peninsula any time soon, remains in dire need of an indoor practice facility.

“As you probably read, we had a lot of rain and storms (Wednesday) that inconvenienced the heck out of our guys and all of our staff,” Kelly said at the inaugural Bulls Kickoff Luncheon at the Marriott Water Street.

“It’s one thing when we do it in the summertime and we don’t have class. We can navigate around that, as inconvenient as it is. But when you get to class time, there’s no way. … We’re not missing class.”

MORE USF: Now, Blake Barnett has the ingredients to lead USF

This first-time luncheon — which attracted approximately 540 USF supporters and local dignitaries — featured the entire Bulls football team and coaching staff.

It came one day after Tampa received 2.59 inches of rainfall, a daily record for the city according to Fox 13 meteorologist Paul Dellegatto.

As a result, the Bulls twice were forced off the outdoor fields at the Morsani Practice Complex, coach Charlie Strong told the audience.

The preseason’s first practice on Aug. 2 — when summer classes were ongoing — also had to be adjusted (from early evening to morning) due to the fear of late-afternoon thunderstorms. As a result, several players were absent due to class-schedule conflicts.

Hence the reason Kelly seized Thursday’s opportunity to pitch the USF Football Center, which would include an indoor facility as well as an operations complex featuring a lounge, locker room, coaches’ offices and meeting rooms.

“Many of you have heard us preaching this for over a year now,” Kelly said. “We’re gonna keep on preaching it till we get it built.”

Kelly told the Tampa Bay Times in July that slightly more than $20 million had been committed to the center, which had an original price tag of $40 million when plans were announced in the fall of 2017.

He’s hopeful of breaking ground as early as next spring.

MORE USF: New faces, old issues stand out at USF scrimmage

“There’s always been a lot of talk about the center, but it’s really been my first opportunity to really talk directly about it to a big audience,” Kelly said after the luncheon.

“I know our die-hard fans are intimately aware of it, but this was an expanded group. When you have a lot of people that invite seven, eight, nine, 10 people that are guests at a table to kind of hear the vision of USF football and to hear what we have in store for the future … it’s a great opportunity for us.”

If Kelly’s message didn’t quite resonate, Mother Nature helped him along as the guests exited the hotel early Thursday afternoon.

It was raining.

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. USF redshirt freshman Jordan McCloud warms up before Saturday night's game against South Carolina State. McCloud totaled five touchdowns in the Bulls' 55-16 triumph. SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times] SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The redshirt freshman’s five total touchdowns were the most by a Bulls first-time starter
  2. USF rejoices after defensive end Kirk Livingstone, getting hugged, recovers a first-half fumble against South Carolina State. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    Journal: The Bulls force a single-game record eight turnovers against South Carolina State.
  3. Relentless pressure caused this first-half fumble; No. 20 Bentlee Sanders knocking it free with No. 4 Greg Reaves ready to pounce. USF recovered, then scored a touchdown just a few plays later against visiting South Carolina State. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    At least one unit still has some serious shortcomings entering conference play.
  4. Not perfect, but not too bad for USF quarterback Jordan McCloud in his first college start. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The redshirt freshman quarterback totals five touchdowns in his starting debut as the Bulls beat South Carolina State 55-16.
  5. UCF defensive back Aaron Robinson runs after intercepting a pass against Stanford during the first half of Saturday's 45-27 Knights win. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    Fennelly: Like last year and the year before, Saturday’s big win (this one over Stanford) isn’t music to every ear.
  6. UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel throws a pass against Stanford during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday in Orlando. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    The true freshman quarterback throws four touchdowns in a 45-27 victory over the Pac-12 Cardinal.
  7. Warming up before the game Saturday night, USF redshirt freshman Jordan McCloud, a Plant High alum, got his first start as a college quarterback. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The former Panther gets the nod over Blake Barnett against South Carolina State.
  8. UCF quarterback Brandon Wimbush runs the ball against Florida A&M on  Aug. 29, 2019 in Orlando. GARY MCCULLOUGH  |  AP
    But who will start at quarterback Saturday for the No. 17 Knights?
  9. USF, Florida, FSU and more games on the air.
  10. Kentucky quarterback Sawyer Smith (12) throws the ball during the NCAA college football game between Kentucky and Eastern Michigan, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, in Lexington, Ky. BRYAN WOOLSTON  |  AP
    Miami’s starting quarterback has a weird role in whom the Gators will face Saturday at Kentucky.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement