USF spent the first half of the 21st century as one of the most overachieving, feel-good stories in college football. They’ve spent the second half, aside from some glorious but championship-free Quinton Flowers seasons, as an amalgam of institutional mistakes off the field that hindered on-field success. Once the university reached the Big East in 2005, and won nationally televised games less than a decade after their first snap, USF put the athletic department on cruise control.
But then the Big East fell apart as the administration watched from their ivory tower as Providence burned. They also thought most student-athlete’s should be held to the same academic standards as the rest of the freshmen class, and saw four-and-five-stars not even consider them while waltzing into SEC and Big 12 schools with ease. The lack of fundraising and investment in football when it was winning games and ranked in a BCS conference was terrific for the outstanding medical school and business program, but negligent in terms of tending to what brought the national attention in the first place.