As we approach the 2017 USF Bulls Football season, there's no one better to discuss the upcoming season than Jim Louk. Jim has seen them all from 1997 on.
Jim is the Associate Director of Athletics / BullsVision & Broadcasting at USF and can be followed on twitter at @USFjimlouk. He is also the "Voice of the Bulls" with play by play duties for South Florida Football and the co-host of the upcoming USF Football Radio Show.
Jim, you’ve provided fans a history of the Bulls over the years with series such as “10 Essential Bulls” (2014 season); is this one of the more talented teams you’ve seen at USF?
Comparing teams over the years is difficult. I would say this about the 2017 team: I’m not sure there has been a USF team with as much depth at so many positions. Not all positions of course, but a lot of them. There have always been great athletes here, but sometimes the “2’s and 3’s” weren’t at the level fans would have preferred. There are a lot of players you can win with on this team.
In terms of team philosophy and expectations, how has the program changed since Charlie Strong’s arrival?
Every coach is different of course in the way they go about things. I would describe the atmosphere around the program these days as business-like. They certainly have fun, but it’s a very focused and hard working group; players and coaches alike. Practices are crisp, which comes from coaching leadership and also from having a pretty veteran team. I think they all sense a special opportunity is here. From media and fans, the expectations are unprecedented in USF Football history. It would have been pretty hard to anticipate this even just a couple of years ago. The team has done a great job of understanding what can be accomplished without losing focus on how to get there.
The team has received a lot of preseason media and accolades; how does that impact the feeling around the Athletic Center?
Winning affects everyone positively. You can’t work for/cover a team without getting invested in it. You care about the players and you care about the coaches. It means a lot to me to see student-athletes succeed and enjoy their USF experience. So I think when any team in the program goes through that, it affects people in the department, and in a very positive manner. It helps you be proud of where you work. And it’s great to see people you know who are working hard and achieving get their due.
Quinton Flowers has received a lot of attention as well, what do you think is most important for Bulls fans to know about Quinton?
What type of person he is. More and more, information about what he has overcome is being detailed and people are getting to know him on a national level. The stats are great, and the wins are too. But most compelling is who he is, what he has accomplished in his life, and what lies ahead. Quite a story.
Have you seen former players around much this season? Who? What have they had to say about the 2016 Bulls?
I had a chance to spend some time with Otis Dixon at a spring practice. Jesse Hester Jr. too, and we talked a lot about the Auburn catch. I remember the post- game show that day; we broke the rules a little bit and got Jessie on the field right at game’s end, just a few moments after the catch, and the emotion was still so raw that he broke down in tears describing the play. In general, the offensive guys marveled at how different the ‘16 offense was from what they ran.
Of the new coaches, who have you found most interesting in getting to know?
Lots of interesting personalities. Everyone in the department likes them. Hard to single out one.
What was your favorite game to provide play by play (and you can’t say “WVU 2007”)?
Well the inaugural game certainly. It was the first football game I had ever broadcast at any level, and I wasn’t very good. Thought I was prepared after doing basketball for 14 seasons, but that first football game went a lot faster than I thought it would. Felt like I was always trying to catch up. What a great thing to be a part of though. Pittsburgh ’01, Kansas ’08, Florida State ’09 come to mind as great games that I probably did a better job on. Mark and I had a lot of fun with UCF ’07 too.
What should fans know about USF’s efforts in multimedia and online marketing and how that attracts fans in the Bay Area?
How difficult it is. The marketing people, past and present, work incredibly hard here. Quite frankly, when something is not done, and people wonder why, it usually has been discussed and they have elected not to do it for a reason. There’s not a lot the marketing folks don’t think of or consider. It’s remarkable how things have changed; I worked in sales and marketing here in the ‘80’s. No internet. No department computers. Had to walk to work 5 miles in the snow, etc, etc. I think the current day marketing folks here do a great job staying ahead of everything. In terms of streaming games, you’ll see much more on Facebook this year, and our new website partner I believe will do a much more consistent job of presenting BullsVision streams properly.
Do you expect any format changes in the Coaches radio show this season?
Coach Strong feels it’s important to share this platform with other USF sports. Shows a lot about his nature. So we will have a non-football segment in each show. Other than that, similar format as years past.
What game is the “Voice of the Bulls” looking most forward to? Why? Any other come close?
This season? Probably the day after Thanksgiving. I like walking by the War on I-4 trophy in the Selmon Center every day. Also San Jose State. Always look forward to the next one.
Thank you Jim, Have a great show on Tuesday and perhaps we'll see you in San Jose!
Just a reminder...don't miss Jim Louk and Mark Robinson along with Charlie Strong at the USF Football Radio Show Tuesday, August 22.