Some hurt feelings and red faces at the University of South Florida today.
City officials in Tampa, which happens to be the location of USF, have negotiated for the rights to the Atlantic Coast Conference’s championship game in 2008 and 2009 on dates that will deprive the Bulls of home games at Raymond James Stadium.
In addition to causing USF and the Big East to lose face, Tampa will host the ACC title game on Dec. 6 and again in 2009, and those dates preclude USF from playing home football games in the final week of the regular season. USF lost an opportunity to play a Thursday night ESPN game against Rutgers that week as a result of the contract signed by the ACC.
A USF Sports Blog quoted Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio following a meeting today between USF and Tampa Sports Authority officials:
“We are accepting of the ’08 and ’09 schedule with the ACC football tournament [game] and recognize that that is something we will go with because that is the arrangement. Our real emphasis today has been on long term and how the University of South Florida’s football program fits into the priorities of this community. It is a large priority of this community, and I think that was accepted by everybody in this room.
Surely a lot of people at USF were not clued into the negotiations and some city officials had a lot of explaining to do. During the meeting at her office today, Iorio also instructed city officials not to pursue the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game beyond 2009, leaving the calendar open for the Bulls to play a home game the first weekend in December.