The employees at Tampa T-shirt company Smack Apparel were talking recently about their weekly pick’em contest when Saturday’s USF-Alabama game came up. One of the USF alumni said he’d be happy if the Bulls simply covered the spread.
A viral T-shirt was born.
The company played off the common refrain among college football fans — We want Bama — but crossed out Bama in gold and replaced it with “to cover the spread!”
The spread, as of Wednesday afternoon, was 32½ points, according to BetMGM.
“I do not gamble,” Smack Apparel founder Wayne Curtiss said, “but if I did, I would take USF and the points.”
Even if you don’t know the longtime Tampa resident’s name, you probably have seen his company’s work. The garnet and gold “Sucks To Be U” tees with the Miami logo as the U? Smack Apparel started selling them after the 2011 Nevin Shapiro booster scandal.
Curtiss wasn’t sure what to think of the latest USF idea. He didn’t want to seem too mean-spirited toward the Bulls. But the four USF alumni at the company were onboard with the idea. That included Robbie Longworth, whose family has had Bulls season tickets since Year 1.
If we did that shirt, Longworth told the group, I’d wear it to the game.
“We thought, ‘That’s good enough for us,’” Curtiss said.
The image spread on social media. One post by The Action Network’s Brett McMurphy has been seen more than a quarter of a million times.
Curtiss said the company sold a few dozen of them in the first few days and expected sales to pick up this week. He’s hoping to sell a couple hundred — not a lot of shirts, he said, but fine for a fun, local idea that also generates some publicity.
“I think the coach is the right coach,” Curtiss said. “I think he’s doing the right things, certainly says the right things. …
“Even though I’m an FSU graduate, they’re the local team. I’ve always got a soft part in my heart for them and pull for them to win.”
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Though Curtiss isn’t counting on a USF victory Saturday, he is encouraged by the well-known sports cliché that might resonate this weekend: Good teams win. Great teams cover.
“So they’re progressing up the ladder,” Curtiss said.
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