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HTS 2019: South Florida

I know “Swamp Bulls” isn’t their name but wouldn’t that be cooler than just Bulls?

Georgia Tech v South Florida
Big Pressley Harvin III guy here.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Greetings, jolly good fellows, and welcome back to From the Rumble Seat’s weekly look at the history of our opponent. Hopefully you learn a thing or two. Of course, there’s an extra side of irony considering this fall, I’m actually in a class called...HTS 2015...and what is it? Oh, why, of course, it’s History of Sports in America. Close enough. I didn’t really have much vitriol or pizazz for them last year, but you’re darn sure I found something to loath baking in that brutal not-quite-South Florida sun last September.

South Florida Bulls

Opponent Background:

  • Conference: American Athletic Conference (2013 - present)
  • Location: Tampa, Florida
  • All-time Record: 153 - 112 (.577)
  • Home Stadium: Raymond James Stadium (Capacity: 65,890)
  • FBS National Championships: N/A
  • College Football Playoff Appearances: N/A
  • New Year’s Six Bowl Games: N/A
  • Conference Championships: N/A
  • Division Championships: N/A
  • 2018 Season Record: 7 - 6 (3 - 5 AAC)

Past Results:

  • Team Head-to-Head Record: 0-1-0 (.000)
  • Recent Meetings:
    2018: 49 - 38 (Tampa, FL)
  • Coach Head-to-Head Record: 1-1-0 (.500)
  • Tech record against South Florida in this week’s venue: 0-0-0 (N/A)

2019 Football Schedule:

2019 Football Schedule

Date Time (if known) Opponent Conference Historical Record Venue Result Notes Attendence
Date Time (if known) Opponent Conference Historical Record Venue Result Notes Attendence
August 29 8:00 p.m. (ACCN) @ Clemson (1) Atlantic Coast 51-32-2 Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC 14 - 52 L Rivalry 79,118
September 7 2:00 p.m. (ACCN) South Florida American Athletic 1-1-0 Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA 14 - 10 W Group of Five, Whiteout 46,599
September 14 12:30 p.m. (ACCRSN) The Citadel SoCon 10-1-0 Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA 24 - 27 L (OT) FCS 42,871
September 28 3:30 p.m. (CBSSN) @ Temple American Athletic 0-1-0 Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA 2 - 24 L First Meeting, Group of Five 31,094
October 5 4:00 p.m. (ACCN) North Carolina Atlantic Coast 30-22-3 Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA 22 - 38 L Family Weekend, Hall of Fame Game 45,044
October 12 12:30 p.m. (ACCNX) @ Duke Atlantic Coast 51-35-1 Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, NC 23 - 41 L 21,741
October 19 12:00 p.m. (ACCN) @ Miami (FL) Atlantic Coast 13-12-0 Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL 28 - 21 W (OT) "54,106"
November 2 4:00 p.m. (ACCNX) Pittsburgh Atlantic Coast 5-9-0 Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA 10 - 20 L Homecoming 41,219
November 9 12:30 p.m. (ACCNX) @ Virginia Atlantic Coast 21-20-1 Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA 28 - 33 L 44,596
November 16 3:30 p.m. (ACCNX) Virginia Tech Atlantic Coast 7-10-0 Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA 0 - 45 L Rivalry, Heroes Day 43,263
November 21 8:00 p.m. (ESPN) NC State Atlantic Coast 19-10-0 Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA 28 - 26 W 38,198
November 30 12:00 p.m. (ABC) Georgia Southeastern 44-68-5 Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA 0 - 0 TBD Rivalry, Senior Day, Toy Drive
2019 Football Schedule Jake Grant

So, the Bulls are Back? And I have to talk about that game last year again? Great.

Starting on a personal note, I don’t think I’ve ever been more miserable at a football game than the last few minutes of the South Florida game last year. It was hot and the sun was painfully bright. The South Florida band played the same stuff over and over. We were losing. I had gotten little sleep the night before. Security was called on the Tech student section for, well, existing and not cheering for the Bulls. It was not a good situation. But, in the time since then, I have been forged. I’m stronger. The seed of exhaustion and exasperation at the frustrating two-kickoffs-returned-for-touchdowns-fueled loss turned to anger. It’s time for Tech to, well, exact a little revenge on a South Florida team that looked hapless at best last week. The swampy marshlands of Tampa and their denizens must give was for the good people of Dodd’s City, Atlanta, Georgia, to watch the return leg of this matchup this year. It’ll still be hot, sure, but it’s time to give the upstarts what they deserved last September.

The South Florida Bulls’ first practice happened seven years after Georgia Tech’s most recent national championship. In 1997, the Bulls were born, and played four seasons at what is now called the FCS level as an independent before they moved up to FBS in 2001. They remained an independent until their brief stint in Conference USA. South Florida was the epitome of the shattering Big East when they joined in 2005 following a mass exodus of football schools from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference. Their general lack of brand - maybe they could be considered a football school? - was a massive outlier from the conference’s well-documented Northeast basketball roots. Ultimately moves like this doomed that conference, but it provided the Bulls a platform to launch themselves into vague relevance on the national stage just a handful of years after becoming an FBS team and less than a decade after they played their first game. In 2007, they even peaked at #2 in the polls, but lost three games down the stretch to fall completely off the face of the planet. They were a solid team for several years, though declined under Skip Holtz. The beginning of the Willie Taggart era and the birth of the American Athletic Conference coincided in 2013, and their new coach put them back on the up-and-up. They are coming off a disappointing seven win season in their second year under Charlie Strong, losing their last straight, inclusive of last week’s 49-0 demolition derby at the hands of the friendly cheeseheads of Madison, Wisconsin. Last year when I wrote this, I noted they had been tabbed as the preseason division favorites two years in a row, but, well, Central Florida had other ideas, and now the Bulls seem pretty far removed from the 10 wins of 2017.

As far as Tech football history goes, From the Rumble Seat has been taking a look at it since May 2018 over at Rearview Mirror. The short version is that Tech football began ignominiously in 1892. A game up in Athens in 1893, which Tech won, set the stage for one of the fiercest rivalries in the sport and also is one of the mythic origins of the Ramblin’ Wreck nickname. If that wasn’t enough, it’s also how Tech got its colors. Apparently gold is a color for cowards, if the residents of Athens are to be trusted. Tech was pitiful, to put it nicely, for quite some time until one man, Frank Turner, started an initiative to hire a bonafide legend as a football coach. That resulted in John Heisman. Heisman, innovator and champion, saw much success on the Flats until he dramatically left town as part of his divorce. The old man was replaced by William Alexander, who was known for his team’s strong academics and his own 1928 national championship.

Coach Alex was, in turn, replaced by his own protegé, Bobby Dodd. By the end of Dodd’s tenure, Tech had amassed three national championships, twelve conference championships, including five in the Southeastern Conference, which just mean more. What’s more, Dodd and Institute president Edwin Harrison had decided to go independent to make a stand not only for football principles, but its intrinsic academic ideals as well. Dodd and Tech would not sacrifice student-athlete education and well-being. The independent years were lean for Tech and did not result in the dream of a “Notre Dame of the South” status.

Eventually, Tech joined the Atlantic Coast Conference. By the end of the decade, coach Bobby Ross brought the Jackets from the utter depths of football irrelevance to win a national championship, Tech’s fourth. It is hard to overstate just how terrible Tech was at its nadir. Since then, the Jackets have seen average-to-great years, the most recent excellent year being 2014, when Tech was a few plays from the inaugural College Football Playoff. The Jackets have an all-time record of 736-503-43.

Various and Sundry Comments:

  • I’ll stand whenever I please
  • Schools that constantly spell out their names like they have something to prove to someone are a special kind of annoying
  • Their band wears khaki cargo pants - that’s a nope
  • Honestly their stadium wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t have so much red inside of it

For happier Tampa-related memories, check this out, the NCAA can kiss my [Aerosmith]:

Since that game, South Florida has changed coaches three times. Tech has appeared in two Orange Bowls. South Florida has been from the depths of terrible two win seasons to the heights of double-digit wins. Tomorrow, we get our chance at leveling the score against a team that, frankly, has had it coming to them for a good long while now.

Tomorrow, the Jackets face off against the Bulls (0-1-0 all time) in the home opener back on the Flats at 2:00 pm. The game will once again be shown on the Worldwide Leader in [Atlantic Coast Conference] Sports and can be heard over the radio in the usual suspects, 680 AM / 93.7 FM and the Georgia Tech IMG Sports Radio Network, featuring the voice of the Yellow Jackets, Andy Demetra, as always.

With the appearance of the historical matchup preview, that means it’s after Friday at 10:00 AM and that concludes From the Rumble Seat’s regularly scheduled pregame content. Tune in tomorrow starting at 6:00 AM for How to Watch continuing through the gameday thread and the postgame recap. Less than 36 hours until toe meets leather! As always, go Jackets!