USF faces UTEP in final tuneup for Big East play
Skip Holtz refuses to speculate about the future of the Big
East. Instead, the South Florida coach is busy trying to prepare
the 18th-ranked Bulls to make a run at a conference championship in
the league’s current configuration.
”As a staff we kind of have our head in the bunker. … We have
put our trust and confidence in (school president) Judy Genshaft
and (athletic director) Doug Woolard and the leadership we have
here,” Holtz said in the aftermath of the announcement that Big
East members Syracuse and Pittsburgh are bolting for the Atlantic
”I think we have a very stable situation right now when you
look at this program, all the facilities that have been put in
place, the competitive nature of where we are in the big picture
with huge wins on the football field, basketball court and the
baseball diamond,” Holtz added. ”I’m very confident what the
school and this conference have to offer. Where it’s going, I have
no idea. But I’m intrigued where everybody’s going to sit when the
music stops in this game of musical chairs we’re playing right
Of more immediate concern to Holtz is Saturday night’s game
against UTEP (2-1). It’s the Bulls’ final tuneup for the start of
conference play next Thursday at Pitt.
USF (3-0) is coming off a 70-17 rout of overmatched Florida
A&M and once again is heavily favored to remain unbeaten.
Ideally, Holtz would like to build an early lead, then turn the
game over to reserves who can use additional experience to get
ready for the toughest part of the team’s schedule.
”We keep talking about the challenge we have each and every
week is getting better, to keep getting better and play to our
potential,” Holtz said. ”Not to sit down and play to the level of
our competition, but to set the standard for our football team and
continue to deveop depth.”
The Bulls amassed a Big East-record 745 yards total offense
against FAMU, including a school-record tying 382 passing by B.J.
Daniels. Darrell Scott rushed for a career-best 145 yards and
scored four touchdowns, one of them on an 84-yard pass play.
Holtz, in his second year at USF, said it probably was the most
complete game the Bulls have played under him. The performance
certainly caught the attention of UTEP coach Mike Price.
The Miners, who’ve started a different quarterback in each of
their three games, are 0-20 against opponents from BCS conferences.
They’re 4-47 all-time against teams ranked in the Top 25, including
1-30 on the road, where UTEP’s lone victory came at Arizona State
”It’s a great opportunity for our players,” Price said. ”This
is the best team South Florida has ever had. We’ll get them at
USF cracked the Top 25 for the first time in nearly two years
following a season-opening win at Notre Dame. The Bulls outscored
Ball State and FAMU 107-24 over the past two weeks and won’t have
much time to rehash whatever happens against UTEP with the team
having a short week leading to the Big East opener.
There also won’t be a lot of discussion about the future of a
conference that’s gone through upheaval before. After Miami, Boston
College and Virginia Tech were lured from the Big East to the ACC
eight years ago, the league invited USF, Cincinnati and Louisville
”It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. What we have to
do is focus on our football team. And the best thing we can do for
the future of South Florida is make sure we continue to put a
competitive product out on the field each and every week. That’s
where our focus needs to be,” Holtz said.
”I think it’s unfortunate that a lot of geographical rivalries
are being taken away. … But I also think we sat at this point
five, eight years ago when a couple of other teams turned and left
the Big East to go to the ACC. Then you look … years later and
here we sit continuing to move forward with new traditions and new
rivalries that have been established.”