TAMPA — No one questions the need. It has to be built. No one questions that, not the administration, not the athletic department, not anyone familiar with South Florida football.
If USF is going to do what arch-rival Central Florida has already done, which is to make a name on the national stage, then it has to have an indoor practice facility. There are other needs, but none as pressing as this. Without it, the school is crippling its chances of ever rising above its current status as a mid-major program.
The lack of an indoor field puts an extra mental - and at times physical - burden on this team.
Once fall practice starts and on into October, USF's practice sessions are subject to the whims of the weather. Thunderstorms can push practice times back or move them up. Sometimes, practice is interrupted as the team scurries for cover, waits out the storm and then returns to the field.
If you're going to play the Wisconsins and Georgia Techs and Alabamas and Floridas and Miamis of the world, plus others, you can't operate like this. If you're trying to attract national attention with these kind of games, and even in the AAC, you'll get it. But it will be embarrassing, like it was last week.
The coaches and players at USF should not have to worry about the weather. They've got enough on their plates as it is.
"We've got to have it," Bulls coach Charlie Strong said here this week. "It's really frustrating. We have to get it done. Once school starts, we can't go (practice) in the afternoon because of classes. We have to go in the morning.
"The players deserve better than that. We need that facility," Strong emphasized.
The issue is not the need. As mentioned, everybody agrees on that. The issue is how to build it. Currently, USF has enough money pledged to build a separate indoor practice field.
But the athletic administration doesn't want to do that. It wants the facility to be part of master plan that includes the indoor practice space but fills other needs as well. There is a fear donations might fall off if the indoor facility is built by itself and then the rest of the project won't get done.
If that's true, USF doesn't have the kind of support it needs to get to the next level anyway. Build the darn thing. How many donations do you thing you're going to get if you keep getting beat 49-0?
Georgia Tech over USF: Can the Bulls beat Tech? Yes. Will they? No.
UCF over FAU: For the second week in a row, yawn.
The rest: Ohio State over Cincinnati, Illinois over UConn, East Carolina over Gardner-Webb, Houston over Prairie View, Memphis over Southern, North Texas over SMU, Auburn over Tulane, Tulsa over San Jose State.
Last week: 11-1. For the season: 11-1, .925.