1. USF Bulls

Win and they will come? Bulls already are winning

After college football's opening week, Willie Taggart just might lead the American Athletic Conference in diplomacy.

Amid concerns, questions and columns about the Bulls' attendance issues, USF's fourth-year coach hasn't grown irritated or weary -- at least not publicly -- with the discourse. Even his most candid remarks on the subject could be construed more as challenging Bulls fans than calling them out.

Following Thursday's practice, the A-word arose again -- in regard to how it affects the Bulls' Big 12 pursuit -- and Taggart fielded the questions with his normal grace.

"Well, if (attendance) is gonna be a part of (the Big 12 criteria) then I guess it's really important. Again, for us it's important that we go out and have a great, great showing on the football field so the fans can come out and watch a great football team," Taggart said.

"(Raymond James Stadium) is a great place to play; the video boards and everything, it's just special. I think it's pretty cool when you can get a group of people to come together for a worthy cause. It can be great fun in celebrating that all together. We're gonna get there, slowly but surely, and I know our fan base will be there."

Slowly but surely. That leads to a pair of significant questions, neither of which may have a concrete answer: How slowly? And how surely?

How many victories must the Bulls tally to win back the crowds of yesteryear? USF currently is on a five-game home win streak, and has averaged 45 points in its last seven contests at Raymond James Stadium.

Or does the quality of opponent matter more than victories? Would an upset of FSU on Sept. 24 bring the fan base back for good?

Or is the relative youth of the program still affecting turnout, as suggested by Tampa Bay Times veterans Tom Jones and Rick Stroud this morning on 620-AM?

Until an answer -- or strong audience -- arrives, the questions will persist. Taggart's patience probably will, too.

"It's not just our football team that's building this, it's everybody in this community," he said Thursday.

"We're gonna continue to build it each and every week. RayJay's gonna get packed each and every week, and we're all gonna party and have fun, and that's how it should be. We should just grow together, build it together, and great things will happen here in the bay. So come and show up and show out. We really, really appreciate it."