University of South Florida football is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

University of South Florida (USF) football is celebrating its 25th season of football this year.

It has come a long way since its humble beginnings, when, on September 15, 1995, Florida Board of Regents approved USF’s Division 1-AA football program by a 13-1 vote. It would be another two years before the team would play its first game, on September 6, 1997, with an 80-3 victory against NCAA Division II Kentucky Wesleyan at the old Tampa Stadium.

This was more than four decades after the university was founded in 1956. Football at USF was a long time coming.

A new 104-page, softcover book, The Silver Stampede, 25th Anniversary of South Florida Football, written by USF alumnus Joey Johnston, highlights the team’s journey through the years and can be purchased at the USF bookstore. One chapter is dedicated to the late Lee Roy Selmon, who was the driving force behind the program.

USF Associate Athletic Director for Communications Brian Siegrist said football provides a common rallying point for current students, alumni and the community. “It’s a large communal gathering six to seven times a year for USF fans to unite and share their passion for the university,” he said.

Without a stadium of their own (although the original plans for the campus included a site for a football stadium at the intersection of Fowler Ave. and 30th St., now Bruce B. Downs Blvd.), the team plays its games at Raymond James Stadium. While USF Board of Trustees Chair Will Weatherford said a stadium was in the school’s future during the groundbreaking ceremony for the team’s new Indoor Performance Facility this year, Siegrist said the team is thankful to be playing in a stadium that has hosted three Super Bowls and the CFP championship and has seen $100 million in improvements in the last four years.

For USF football, the future is bright.

“We’re a young football program,” said Siegrist. “Our excellent location, thriving community, large alumni and student base and strong recruiting area will allow us to continue to grow and increase in national relevance.”

The best decade in USF football is still to come. Go Bulls.

For more information about USF football or to purchase tickets to one of its remaining games, visit www.gousbulls.com/sports/football.

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