Since USF’s beginning, students campaigned diligently to get a football team for USF. Pep rallies in favor of a football team were held and in 1980, a survey showed that 90% of students wanted a football program at our university. In 1997, students got their wish and the Bulls entered Division I-AA.
The first game came on September 6, 1997 at the Tampa stadium against Kentucky Wesleyan. This game will forever be remembered as an epic victory for the new football team with a final score of 80-3. The Bulls started playing at Raymond James Stadium during their second season. USF moved to the I-A division quickly, which is the highest level of intercollegiate athletics in the NCAA. Our football team was quickly promoted through the conferences and by 2005 the Bulls had passed through the Conference USA and entered the Big East. In 2003, the Bulls were ranked ahead of the Florida Gators in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll.