I didn't want to hijack another thread, but some of the comments I keep reading about USF have me worried. It seems that there are a lot of FSU fans that think USF is just a flash in the pan. I think we underestimate them at our peril. I will throw some points out for discussion with my view and ya'll have fun with this if you care.
One of the reasons that this is an issue for me is that I grew up in Tampa. I have a lot of family and friends that graduated from USF and are now season ticket holders for the Bulls games. They are having a blast at the games. They don't have NC expectations for a program that isn't even winning its conference. It is easy to be a Bulls fan if you live there and a lot of USF grads stay in Tampa.
Some folks on TN argue that USF has a much smaller fan base, and that it is a fickle fan base. I think this misses the point. Tampa is a big city that acts like a small town in many ways. There are still a lot of areas around Tampa that are traditionally southern. This makes them more supportive of college football than other metropolitan communities. While the fan base may be smaller, it is much more concentrated. I doubt USF would travel well yet, but it doesn't take as much effort to support a team that plays just down the street. You can go to the game without making a long trip that takes up the entire weekend. You can get a group together from your work or church to go to the game, bringing in more casual fans that wouldn't make a 4 hour drive or spend a weekend out of town.
USF doesn't need as much support from traditional boosters. They can get corporate money that isn't tied to some emotional commitment that would be quit giving because the school mistreated a legend. They are in the middle of a $600 million fundraising campaign and are upgrading their athletic facilities. http://tampabay.bizjournals.com/tampabay/stories/2009/10/26/story2.html?b=1256529600^2318991#
FSU has Tennessee Street and is a long way from the beach. USF has Ybor City and other places to party and it is not far to the beaches. I personally like the college town feel, but there have to be a lot of recruits that don't care about that as much.
I know that many USF supporters want a stadium on campus, but I think it is a selling point to be playing on an NFL field. USF and Raymond James stadium have been consistently improving the way they adapt the stadium for games. They do a better job of getting the Bucs stuff covered up and are trying to give it a real USF feel. Heck, a couple of years ago, they wouldn't paint the field with the Bulls logo, but now they do. They don't have to spend money on a facility they only use a few times a year.
Another advantage for USF is the ability to travel in and out of Tampa. Not only do you have the metro Tampa area, you are less than 2.5 hours from Orlando, Sarasota, Fort Myers, Lakeland, and all the growth to the north of Hillsborough County. With Tampa's airport, it is cheaper for fans and students to fly in and out for games, you can probably find a hotel cheaper because the fans won't be taking up every room in town. Good luck with that in Tally.
Well, I have to cut this short because I'm typing this at work. My main perception of USF is that they have a lot to build on and are positioned better than just about any school to take it to the next level with just a little more effort. I don't believe that they will surpass the Noles, but then again, FSU cannot rest on it's laurels. It would be very foolish to simply dismiss USF because they are not a tradition rich program with generations of boosters. The biggest threat is the one you don't see coming, so we shouldn't have blinders on.