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2011: One Standout Moment

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2011: One Standout Moment

July 27, 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: 16th Edition (2011)

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Voice of the Bulls

TAMPA, JULY 27, 2016 – Over the years, I’ve written very little about a game in which there is a lot to write about. On Sept. 3, 2011, USF beat Notre Dame, 23-20. 

A win at South Bend for Skip Holtz. Kayvon Webster for 96 yards. The first weather delays in 123 years of Notre Dame football. A ticket back to the top 25 for the Bulls.

Take your pick of stories. All are pretty compelling, but I find all difficult to re-visit.

The day before the game I was scheduled to speak in South Bend to a Notre Dame alumni group. Routine stuff; group of 200 or so. Talk about the Bulls. Take a picture with the leprechaun guy. Then get back to Michigan City, Ind., where the Bulls were staying. Easy enough.


As you may know, I’m always on the cutting edge of technology, so around this time I had just joined Twitter, only five years after it began and only four years after every other human being on the planet had discovered it.  So of course, I couldn’t put my phone down.

That’s where I read it, just before I was introduced. We were losing Lee Roy.

I cut my talk short, and the Notre Dame folks, who were exceedingly kind, got me back to the hotel so I could try to learn more.

The next day we muddled through the broadcast and tried to say the right things on the air. It wasn’t easy.

Imagine, then, how difficult it was for the team, facing a hostile crowd, a talented Notre Dame team, and crazy weather, all the while wondering if Lee Roy Selmon, mentor to so many of them, would survive.

To me, that’s what made that day such a masterful performance by the players and coaches.

As hard as it was, we had to move forward, and the team really responded.  In the next three weeks, the Bulls beat Ball State, Florida A&M, and UTEP to get to 4-0.  Admittedly, it wasn’t a murderer’s row of opponents, but the Bulls had scored 159 points in that stretch and were all the way up to No. 16 in the nation. They had won nine of their last 11, dating back to 2010.


No. 16 in the nation.

Last week of September, 2011.

I can’t remember anything unusual happening before we went to Pittsburgh for game five. It wouldn’t be an easy one; a short week, playing on the road on a Thursday night against a good team. But I still can’t imagine that anybody anticipated what a dividing line this game would turn out to be. 

We got hammered pretty good, giving up 24 unanswered points in the second half. Final score, 44-17, Pittsburgh. So long, top 25.

It was only one game, though, and a bye week followed. The problem was we just never got it going again. 

Losses to Connecticut (five turnovers), Cincinnati (the Zach Collaros run),  and Rutgers (the first-ever overtime loss) followed. A 37-17 win at Syracuse would be the only victory the rest of the way.  The 4-0 Bulls finished 5-7, out of the bowl picture for the first time since 2005.

Oh, to be 8-5 again.

To me, it’s the most stunning of USF Football seasons. How did it happen?  How did a team that demonstrated such strength of character and talent early in the season lose the ability to win?  Sure, there were some injuries, a lot of close games and some bad breaks, but to go from No. 16 in the nation to 1-6 in the Big East is one of the great mysteries in USF Football history.

Still, we can look back with great pride at how the team persevered at Notre Dame.  Thinking about it can be hard to do given the loss the USF family endured that weekend, but that game does remain the 2011 team’s shining moment


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**** you Zach Collaros, **** you to hell! I remember being in Atlanta for the Notre Dame game. Was nuts, Georgia and Tech fans alike were rooting for the Bulls beside me and through all the rain delays too. Now I'm surprised when I leave the state and anyone recognizes the iconic U. Sheesh, I'm not looking forward to the next installments! 

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