TAMPA – When USF coach Jeff Scott thinks about the progress his Bulls have made in his first year and a half on the job, he points to the locker room.
The physical transformation was evident on Tuesday when the Bulls opened the doors to their renovated facility on the eve of preschool. Neon signs with currencies and slogans. Bright green lights. A social lounge with video games, snacks and drinks. Facial recognition tools.
Linebacker Dwayne Boyles said the Bulls’ new home looked like a luxury hotel. Offensive lineman Brad Cecil called everything “the best that could have been”.
But if USF is going to bounce back from last year’s 1-8 struggles, it won’t be because of the physical upgrades to the locker rooms (as part of the center’s $ 3.3 million refurbishment). athletics Lee Roy Selmon). It will be because of the figurative transformation inside the locker room. It will be because of the culture shift that Scott says is on the right track.
âI think in the 18 months that I’ve been here there have been a lot of challenges,â Scott said. “But the one thing I can definitely hang my hat on right now is the changeâ¦ in our locker room.”
When USF hired Scott in December 2019, he made program culture their # 1 priority. Bill Walsh’s quote outside the locker room on the culture leading up to positive results is a physical manifestation of that commitment.
Scott’s focus on intangibles shouldn’t come as a surprise. His former Clemson boss, Dabo Swinney, is one of the best culture builders in recent college football history. It is no coincidence that one of the mottos of the Tigers facilities –The best is the norm – now also shines in the locker room of the Bulls.
Cecil said the culture change under Scott has been “almost like a U-turn” manifested in ways that would be hard to see if you weren’t looking for them. For a weightlifting session, everyone would wear the same: cropped green shirt, green shorts, white socks, and gold shoes. It’s standardized attention to detail that big programs have.
As players walk through the hallways, they are sure to pick up any litter that has strayed from the floor. Why? Because Scott tells them that you are never too big to do the little things.
âThis will translate into the field,â Cecil said. âYou can count on the guy next to you. He cares about you. He cares about this program. He cares about where this place has been and where it is going to be.
Scott doesn’t want to make any proclamation about where the program will be this fall. It is probably a good idea.
The USF’s non-conference schedule includes an opener in the always touchy North Carolina state and the Gators’ trip to Raymond James Stadium on September 11. Add in matches against BYU, SMU, Cincinnati, and UCF, and an appearance in a Bowl might be too hard to reasonably expect.
Growth, however, is not. After spending much of last season dealing with complications from the coronavirus, Scott said he finally felt like he and his staff were coaching instead of managing. Cade Fortin is promising as a quarterback. The defense has strengthened and Scott expects the passing rush to be better thanks to improvements from Tramel Logan, Jamari Stewart and others.
“I am optimistic that our fans and all associated will be able to see some progress,” Scott said.
We have already seen this with a modernized locker room which was a great first step for the USF’s entry into the arms race. We will see if the other changes in the locker room continue on the field.
â Scott said he was âoptimisticâ the Bulls will break new ground in their indoor training facility this fall. USF was originally scheduled to begin construction in late summer with the goal of opening the 88,000 square foot facility before the 2022 season. Scott said the Bulls are continuing to work and some factors (such as building materials) were beyond their control.
â About 80% of Bulls have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, Scott said. This is less than 50 percent at the start of summer.
â Quarterback Brendan Cyr and New Mexico State transfer Xander Yarberough have left the program due to “personal obligations,” Scott said.
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