Outside of the rumors that coach Skip Holtz is a target as North Carolina's next head coach, the biggest elephant in the room for the University of South Florida football team is the program's streak of reaching a bowl game, which remains in jeopardy with two weeks left in the regular season.
The Bulls still need one win in their final two games — Friday against Louisville and Dec. 1 against West Virginia, both at home — to reach the six wins necessary for bowl eligibility. But will six be enough to extend the program's postseason streak to seven? That is a good question.
There are 70 total bowl slots, and entering play this week there were 64 bowl-eligible teams. USF is among 18 teams nationally still with a chance to become bowl eligible over the next two weeks. So there is a possibility there could be more eligible teams than available slots.
"You can't complain if you don't get one at six because we had our opportunities to go to seven," said Holtz.
It's a bit of a mixed bag for USF when it comes to the latest bowl projections from college football pundits. One option, and arguably the most likely scenario, has USF slotted to play in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl at Tropicana Field against a Conference USA team. However, the Bulls also have been pegged for the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and even the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, while some projections have USF missing out entirely.
Should USF get to six wins, a résumé that includes a win at Notre Dame and being a member of a BCS conference likely would be enough to earn a postseason trip. But if it doesn't, Holtz said the Bulls have only at themselves to blame.
"I don't want it to be the loser's limp or crying over spilled milk, because we spilled it," Holtz said. "Don't get me wrong, we've had our opportunities … to win some of these close football games. We, and when I say we — as a staff, players, football team – we have not gotten it done."
The USF men's basketball team entered the season as the nation's only squad with a chance to play against three Final Four teams from last season, and missing out on that chance just added to the disappointment of the weekend showing at the Hall of Fame Tip-Off in Uncasville, Conn.
The Bulls' overtime loss to Old Dominion at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Saturday took away the opportunity to face No. 2 Kentucky, a national semifinalist last season.
"Yeah, you could probably get hammered, but at the same time you could really get a chance to see where you are," said USF coach Stan Heath. "I was looking forward to it, I think our players were, too, but it just didn't happen and now we've got to move forward."
USF still has upcoming games at 2011 national semifinalist VCU on Wednesday and against defending national champion Connecticut at the Forum on Dec. 28.
The jerseys worn by the football team during the Miami game, in conjunction with Under Armour's Wounded Warrior Project, are available for purchase in an online auction that runs through Dec. 3 on the USF athletics website, gousfbulls.com. All proceeds will go to the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit organization that serves injured veterans and their families. … Former football player S.J. Green, a Brandon High product, had a big year with the Canadian Football League's Montreal Alouettes, finishing in the top six in the league in receptions (87) and receiving yards (1,147) to earn East Division All-Star honors. … Freshman Valerie El Houssine, who led the volleyball team in kills (380) and was second in digs (220), was named to the All-Big East second team. She had 20 kills in a season-ending win over Florida A&M on Wednesday.