Game Review: Connecticut Huskies vs South Florida Bulls, 11/3/12, 7pm
Weather: Clear, 74; Ticket Price $20 (Face $27); Parking $15
“Meh” by Tree
The Bulls play in Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Bucs, so getting there was as easy as getting into a Florida university. Unlike the ‘Canes who share some colors with their home town pros, the Bulls are not so fortunate. So while the stadium had some USF coloring and signage, it felt very much like the Bulls were visiting the stadium. The same could be said for the tailgating when I entered the lots. However, I apparently, I came in on the family side as the student side of the stadium has a more robust tailgating scene. At least the parking was reasonable, $15 and fairly close to the stadium.
I headed up to Tampa from Fort Myers as part of a long weekend where I went to the Va Tech vs Miami game on Thursday night. Finding the stadium was easy. I didn’t have a ticket, but with both the Huskies and Bulls sporting losing records, this was hardly a marquee matchup. As soon as I parked, I saw someone looking to sell a ticket. He wanted $25 and I was only looking to spend $10 – $15. He said it was a good seat on the lower level. I took his word at face value and we settled on $20. I felt I was overpaying, but I figured it was the same price as the upper deck. This was a mistake for two reasons. One, a guy was giving away four tickets free at the gate. Two, the seat I bought was in the end zone where I learned that the season ticket holder had sold it the guy I had bought it from for $5. I immediately felt like a horse’s ass. The view itself wasn’t too bad, but it was a great night, warm with a soft breeze. Watching from the upper deck would have been just fine.
My mood improved when I purchased my souvenir cup of soda which had unlimited refills?!? This was a definite first in my stadium tour. I could easily imagine taking kids to a game like this and not feeling fleeced with that purchase. The crowd was friendly and there were a fair number of kids at the game undoubtedly guzzling down the carbonated sweet stuff. The fans had a sense of humor. Coach Skip Holtz was having a rough season, and there were several Holtz detractors sporting paper bags over their heads. Their cheers of “Fire Holtz” could be heard at every Bull miscue.(Note – Holtz was fired before the 2013 season.)
Well, at least it was close. This was the game for the kicking aficionado. Four field goals and twelve punts did not bring to mind “instant classic”. I don’t need a game to be high-scoring, because I love great defense and big hits. I don’t recall this game delivering either. South Florida went up early on a touchdown and then it was all Rockettes. One-Two-Three-Kick. The Huskies did manage a drive late but it ended with a pick at SF’s 22 yard line.
USF when compared to other programs is clearly still in its infancy. No specific traditions and their SID department shorted the fans by eliminated the Brahmins from their mascot name. With a little creativity, that is something a sharp fan base and a creative student body could build on. Example: Penn State is not just the Lions, but the Nittany Lions. It makes the name unique. USF didn’t have much choice but to adopt UT’s “Hook ‘Em Horns” hand gesture. However, an enthusiastic alum pointed out the difference to me. USF fans do a circular motion while making the index and pinky finger sign. Their lack of tradition could also be seen in a lack of a signature cheer. The guy next to me tried to be clever by yelling things like “Hey Big East refs your penalty calling is terrible.” It would be hard to characterize this or any number other of the additional one liners that followed as either catchy or creative. It was the mark of an inexperienced fan base. For additional evidence, the female fans to the right of me lasted all of five minutes of the game before they bailed and the guy behind me was puking by the third quarter. With a half full stadium, it definitely felt like amateur hour at times. Contrast that to the Miami game, where there were coordinated, robust cheers the entire game and guys behind me were drinking like fish the entire game with nary a whiff of vomit the entire game.
In summary, the South Florida would not be a must see game at this time both in terms of the play on the field or the game watching experience. Hard core college football fans should only consider if their team is playing the Bulls. On the other hand, it would be a reasonable choice if faced with spending a night trapped in a Florida hotel room with rambunctious kids in late autumn where the alternative is watching another children’s film.