For a football program that didn’t start actual competition until 1997, and held their first official meeting underneath a shade tree on campus, the South Florida Bulls have done quite well for themselves in their first 15 years of existence. They worked their way up to the FBS level by 2001, and have been a member of two conferences since. They’ve appeared in six bowl games since 2005, going 4-2 in those contests. Again, not bad for a program that, if comparing to the human aging process, isn’t allowed to consume alcohol yet.
There’s just been one thing that’s been missing that would make South Florida a full-fledged member of the college football society–a rival. And, being in the football talent-heavy state of Florida, preferably an in-state opponent.
Well, judging from the past, as well as a recent announcement about the future, the Bulls may be on their way to securing a dance partner for their rivalry waltz.
In 2015 and 2016, the Bulls will play a series against their neighbors to the north, the Florida State Seminoles. The game in ’15 will see a contest in Tallahassee, followed by the ‘Noles making a trip south to Tampa in ’16. The games will only mark the third and fourth times respectively that the teams have met on the field, but you have to start somewhere. Plus, in their first meeting in 2009, the young, upstart Bulls let it be known that they’re not to be taken lightly.
Doak Campbell Stadium, home to the Seminoles, was where that ’09 meeting took place. FSU was supposed to give South Florida a brash welcome to the world of big-time college football in the state of Florida. Well, things didn’t quite work out that way. In a shocker, the Bulls walked out of Tallahassee 17-7 victors. Of even more note is the fact that a lot believe that this loss triggered the tail spin that would lead to long-time head coach Bobby Bowden being ousted later that season.
Last season’s sequel didn’t work out quite as well for South Florida though, as the ‘Noles went into Raymond James Stadium in Tampa and returned the favor, leaving with a 30-17 victory on their record.
Each program has one notch on the victory belt as it stands right now. And personally, I believe having them battle it out on a more consistent basis benefits everyone involved.
For Florida State, it gets a lot of critics off of their backs who usually, no matter how good the Seminoles seem on paper, feel the need to take shots consistently at their out-of-conference scheduling.
In South Florida’s case, it gives them that big brother-type figure that they can look forward to trying to get one up on, on a more consistent basis. It gets the players from the school excited, as well as the fanbase.
From a recruiting standpoint, both schools definitely win here as well.
With the entire state of Florida being the overflowing talent pool that it is, this game becoming something of meaning gives recruits a chance to give more consideration to both programs.
Both schools getting this rivalry heated up and consistently making trips to each other’s homes gives recruits that may be considering both programs a chance to see that they could be a part of something exciting.
College football these days is constantly progressing and changing. Both schools changing the way they view this game from “just another game” to a “rivalry”, may be a good thing for all involved in the end.