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1996: We Might Have Something Here


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On Sept. 3, the Bulls will start their 20th season of football.  This summer we’ll take a look back at 20 moments, one for each season, including the “practice but no games” year of 1996.  These may not be the biggest moments in USF history; they may not even be moments where things went right for the Bulls.  But they help define the program, remind us where the time has gone, and show how our Bulls have progressed as season 20 gets closer and closer.

 

20 Seasons, 20 Memories: First Edition

 

By JIM LOUK

Voice of the Bulls

TAMPA, JUNE 3, 2016 – On Sept. 25, 1996, the young football players who wanted to be Bulls had practiced less than 10 times. Few if any of those practices had been open to staff, media or fans. As the day came for the first public scrimmage, no one had any idea what would happen on the field.

We didn’t know what would happen around the field either.  The scrimmage would take place at the USF soccer stadium (now the track and field stadium).  We sold some $5 tickets (a press release from that week even states that a “limited number” of those tickets were available at the physical education building, which was still the home of USF Athletics at the time. Learn more about the old home of USF Athletics HERE.

But we didn’t have a good count, especially with free student tickets - 200 people or 2,000?  Well, we decided, we’ll find out together.  Oh, and somebody remember to tell the cheerleaders and the band to be there.

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The program did have some momentum by then.  A good amount of season tickets for 1997 had been sold.  But with the first game still nearly a calendar year away, there were some who thought we were rolling the dice going out in public so early.  The uniforms that day were beyond basic and interest in a controlled scrimmage was questionable. After only a few practices, the coaches weren’t promising anything close to a polished product, and a lot of the young men with the team for this scrimmage weren’t ever going to see the field in a real USF game.  But onward we went.  And we got an early lesson about the power of USF Football.

The stadium was all bench seating of course, and immediately after the gates opened, the best seats were grabbed.  People ran to them.  They argued over them.  And the people kept coming.

By the time the scrimmage started, just under 5,000 fans were crammed in to see history.  The Bulls entered from the east end of the stadium, and the crowd reaction was staggering.  In all of USF Football history, there remains no team entrance that gave me chills like this one did.  Not even the times in front of more than 60,000 at Raymond James Stadium.

As raw as the program was, the USF coaching staff already knew how to please the crowd.  The first play was a 70-yard touchdown from Lance Hoeltke to Charlie Jackson.  What a way to begin.

For the most part though, the on-the-field product was what you might expect at this stage; penalties, turnovers, coaches stopping things in mid-play for teaching moments.

No one cared.  We had a team.

We did a lot in that last year before the games started.  There were more scrimmages, season ticket drives, and public appearances.  We even did a full season of radio shows with Jim Leavitt, talking about the practices and college football in general.  But to me, nothing in 1996 surpassed the crowd reaction when USF fans saw their brand new football team enter a stadium as a unit for the very first time.

I felt a letdown after the scrimmage was over that day.  I wondered how in the world I would last 12 more months without a football game.  It was tantalizingly close now, but still so far away.

But all of us made it through 1996, our last year without USF Football games.  And the wait we all went through would prove to be worth it.

http://www.gousfbulls.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=7700&ATCLID=210993296

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33 minutes ago, NewEnglandBull said:

We have had ups and downs, changed conferences, changed divisions, and want more acceptability in the CFB landscape. However, let's not forget that this year marks the 20th year of USF football. I can't remember what life was without it (or I choose not to remember those days). 

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3 hours ago, NewEnglandBull said:

I was listening on the computer using something called the World Wide Web. 

I didn't know they had streaming radio back then, that actually impresses me. 

I was a junior in high school, man 20 years, that's crazy.

To the people that attended that, you really witnessed history for our program ..I'm jealous.

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51 minutes ago, Bulls On Parade said:

I didn't know they had streaming radio back then, that actually impresses me. 

I was a junior in high school, man 20 years, that's crazy.

To the people that attended that, you really witnessed history for our program ..I'm jealous.

Yep, I also listened to the  inaugural game the same way. Seems like a lifetime ago. 

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18 hours ago, Triple B said:

[...]

The stadium was all bench seating of course, and immediately after the gates opened, the best seats were grabbed.  People ran to them.  They argued over them.  And the people kept coming.

By the time the scrimmage started, just under 5,000 fans were crammed in to see history.  The Bulls entered from the east end of the stadium, and the crowd reaction was staggering.  In all of USF Football history, there remains no team entrance that gave me chills like this one did.  Not even the times in front of more than 60,000 at Raymond James Stadium.

[...]

This is a perfect way to illustrate the antiseptic experience that USF football is at Raymond James Stadium. The OCS is where your own (scholarly, personal) achievements collide with the team's on the field. When the games are on your campus, they mean more. 

 

 

Edited by keithroby
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4 hours ago, keithroby said:

This is a perfect way to illustrate the antiseptic experience that USF football is at Raymond James Stadium. The OCS is where your own (scholarly, personal) achievements collide with the team's on the field. When the games are on your campus, they mean more. 

 

 

I disagree... I had those chills looking around RayJay during 2007 WVU game. The yankees were coming to town and the fans made sure it was a packed house. I still get chills thinking about it. I also went to Auburn that year and the USF fans on that day were louder than Auburn easily. Unfortunately, in Tampa, win and people will come, I don't think that an OCS changes that. I certainly would prefer to have it on campus and would love to see it happen, but, I think everyone that thinks it will instantly change the atmosphere of a USF football game is mistaken. Win and the atmosphere will take care of itself.

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