By Brad Meyer | Published 09/06/2022 | USF Athletics Facilities
Tampa, FL – After last Saturday, who doesn’t need something to celebrate?
Across the USF Athletics landscape there is quite of bit of uncertainty and “show me” or “I’ll believe it when I see it” mentality. Understandably so. Our efforts to be competitive have created periods of optimism followed by seasons of grave pessimism.
When it comes to facilities we’ve heard a lot in past years, but we haven’t seen a lot until the Indoor Performance Facility began construction last fall. That was after a lengthy delay, mostly related to fundraising challenges with a changing fan base.
The football program, clearly the key revenue driver for Athletics, seemed abandoned by previous administrations. After an exciting birth 25 years ago today, that would be unthinkable. That era saw the new upstart program defeat teams such as Louisville, Auburn, and FSU while more and more fans came to experience USF Football. After a first-ever bowl in 2005, just nine years in existence, the potential seemed limitless.
But, times change. A new conference and four coaches later we find ourselves behind and perhaps stagnated, seemingly destined for whatever hand the football gods were going to deal us. And they hadn’t been very kind.
But on September 8, 2021, Bulls coaches, players, administrators and fans were already feeling a little pick-me-up in a ceremonial groundbreaking for the new Indoor Performance Facility when USF Board of Trustees Chair Will Weatherford proclaimed, “I’m going to say it – I for one think Bulls Nation deserves to have a stadium on this campus…and I’m here to tell you we are going to do it”.
To have the Chairman of the Board of Trustees come out and say that was earth-shaking (or maybe that was the offensive line doing some ceremonial shovel work). So unprecedented, I reacted as I had been conditioned through past experience. Okay, I’ll say it too. We’ll see what happens. Yeah…
My pessimism had me thinking this will be the thing we discuss and cry poor about for the next 15 years. We got that covered. This poor guy, Will Weatherford, let emotions get hold of him. He splashed this announcement out there and he can’t take it back.
So being the broken-hearted, wise guy I am I put on the TheBullsPen.com a reverse countdown, or a countup to a stadium. I figured it would be fun to say Oh look, the count up is now at 6,191 days...
But unlike past excursions into this space, USF was taking action. Will Weatherford meant it. It wasn’t to buy time or to fill a press release. He put his name and face all over this effort. And he has aligned the right parties.
It seemed appropriate to me on the one-year anniversary (Thursday) of his statements that we honor Mr. Weatherford. Afterall, we just completed another Board of Trustees meeting that discussed the stadium and named a design firm, Barton Malow (Populous). This thing is moving.
I can eat crow, pull my head out of my hinter region, and offer a mea culpa. Ok, I appear to be wrong.
I am wrong.
Many are learning they too were wrong.
Thursday is hereby declared Will Weatherford Day.
In 23 years of message board management, I’ve never declared a holiday – even after beating WVU in a sold out Raymond James Stadium. So this is exciting.
It’s a gift giving holiday too (no day off work, however). I’d suggest we all make a donation to the USF Bulls Club in honor of Mr. Weatherford’s boldness, courage and leadership. It’s on 9/8, how does $98 sound? Some donors search for a symbolic amount, so it could also be 9,082,021 and that would go a long way. I'm sure anything between $98 and $9,082,021 would be appreciated.
It was a historic day. We are making progress. Let's have a little fun with it and send a gift to the Fund if you can.
Video of IPF groundbreaking event: