TAMPA — If Saturday’s pregame tailgaters at Raymond James Stadium constitute an accurate cross-section of the USF demographic, the preferred candidate for the Bulls’ coaching vacancy is glaring.
An overwhelming majority of those questioned in the south end zone parking lot prior to Saturday night’s UCF-USF showdown said they’d pick Deion Sanders for the job. Sixty fans were polled anonymously, though a handful publicly offered feedback on their respective choice.
“I think Deion Sanders, because he’d be able to step in and recruit the area like nobody has since (Willie) Taggart,” said Michael Sakellarides, a 2016 USF graduate. “Even if he isn’t an X’s and O’s guy, he’d be able to bring players in that should be able to play on the level that we’re going to be in in the new (American Athletic Conference).”
Of the 60 polled, Sanders collected 41 votes. Former Bulls coach Jim Leavitt (five) was the only other candidate to receive even five.
“(Leavitt) shouldn’t have been fired in the first place,” said Temple Terrace’s John Stevenson, a longtime fan.
Athletic director Michael Kelly recently acknowledged he has spoken with Sanders, among a number of other candidates. In a Nov. 8 news conference shortly after Jeff Scott’s dismissal, Kelly said he’d ideally like to have a new coach hired by Dec. 5.
“I think Deion would bring a lot of good publicity to the school,” said Nicole Wyscarver, a 2012 graduate who now works for an accounting firm. “A lot of needed attention that we could use to build our program up.”
Many preferred Sanders because of the Fort Myers native’s obvious state-wide recruiting ties.
“He’d recruit the hell out of this area,” said 2008 graduate James Daniels. “I know he’s gotten offers from Colorado, but why would you go out of state when there’s a treasure trove of talent right here?”
We polled 60 fans in the parking lot prior to the UCF-USF game, asking whom they prefer to be the next Bulls coach. Here are the results:
Deion Sanders (Jackson State coach): 41
Jim Leavitt (former USF coach): 5
Jon Gruden (former Bucs coach): 4
Jamey Chadwell (Coastal Carolina coach): 4
One vote each: Ed Orgeron (former LSU/Ole Miss coach), Larry Scott (Howard coach, former USF player), Scott Frost (former UCF, Nebraska coach), Lane Kiffin (Ole Miss coach), Tom Herman (former Houston and Texas coach), Alex Atkins (FSU offensive coordinator)
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