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1998: We Don't Need This Sombrero Anymore

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June 10, 2016

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: Third Edition (1998)


Voice of the Bulls

TAMPA, JUNE 10, 2016 – My memory is a little fuzzy about who first called the old Tampa Stadium “The Sombrero” (I have it narrowed down to either Chris Berman or Shakespeare), but the name stuck and Bulls fans often still refer to USF Football’s first home that way.

Old stadiums rarely survive (especially when a bright, shiny new one appears in an adjacent parking lot), and it is a little unfortunate the site of USF’s first-ever game no longer exists. 

In reality, the Bulls never did play at Tampa Stadium.  Their nine games in the facility all came after the name was officially changed to Houlihan’s Stadium.

USF's first play from scrimmage in the inaugural game in 1997.

USF played the entire inaugural season there, but 1998 turned out to be a little bit of a moving target for the Bulls.  At one point, it was believed the Bulls would open the season at Raymond James Stadium, but instead USF wound up with a two-game swan song at the old facility.  USF season ticket holders of the era probably remember receiving a split season ticket for two stadiums that year.

The Bulls’ final appearance at Tampa/Houlihan’s Stadium was on Sept. 12, 1998 against Valparaiso. The Bucs had already moved, so the honor of playing the last football game in the building belonged to USF.

Construction on Raymond James Stadium had spanned the entire football history of the Bulls, so we had gotten used to watching the new building get closer and closer to completion.  There was still a sense of nostalgia though as we played our last game in the stadium, where we had started just one year and six days earlier.  It added to the dizzying pace of those early days; nine home games and time to move to a brand new place.  Something was always changing in that era.  By this point, we just took it all in stride.

The Bulls made sure there was no doubt they would close the stadium with a win.  They led 20-0 at the end of the first quarter, 34-0 at half, and 51-0 by game’s end.  Rafael Williams ran for 125 yards and LaFann Williams had 117, as USF rolled up 520 yards of offense.

After the game we packed up the broadcast equipment and left with probably not as much fanfare as we should have.  We didn’t do anything special on the air. I didn’t even take a photo of the broadcast booth, and I really regret that because now I can’t remember exactly what it looked like.  We had a trip to Virginia to play Liberty the next week, and that’s really what we were thinking of.

After beating Liberty, the Bulls went to their new home at Raymond James and pounded Citadel and Elon before taking a loss to Western Kentucky, quarterbacked by some guy named Taggart.

Nearly two decades have passed, and for all the talk about alternatives, Raymond James Stadium has been a wonderful home.  But those nine games in the old place, while forgotten by many, were pretty special, too.


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3 hours ago, Bulls On Parade said:

Same never saw a USF game at the Sombrero but did see last Bucs game I think it was vs Detroit.

Same here. It was a playoff game...



**** I hope Chris Berman doesn't get credit for "The Sombrero."  That would suck. 

Indeed, Berman is credited with the Sombrero (see Wikipedia).

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5 hours ago, Brad said:

Jim Louk is about the last connection the program has to the early days....

I love reading his stuff.  He's a walking encyclopedia.  Hope he has a lot more time at USF.

His sidekick Mark Robinson has also announced every game. Jim will always be the voice of USF football. 

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