Matt Grothe Era Will Be Remembered As 'The Good Old Days'
That 80-3 win over a Division II school in the inaugural South Florida Bulls football game seemed a hundred years before when I saw the Bulls ranked number 2 in the BCS Standings on October 14, 2007, just barely over ten years later.
Who? How? How in the world?
Mainly it happened because of one man. Matt Grothe.
That's why accepting Grothe's USF career is over because of the torn ACL he suffered Saturday is so hard. Matt was going to fulfill all the considerable promise seen in his first three years in this, his senior season. Oh sure, we knew he would become the Big East's all-time total offense leader. We knew that for the first time in his career he could line up against his old high school peers at Florida State and Miami. We saw the opportunity for the elusive quarterback to finally put it all together and with the help of George Selvie and the Bulls defense, maybe, get into that BCS bowl as Big East champions.
None of that will happen now. It makes the hairs on my neck stand up thinking about the immense disappointment that all involved (including myself) feel. Two minutes and fifty-four seconds remained on the game clock in the first half Saturday versus Charleston Southern when his ACL was torn submitting to a tackle. Grothe had been informed before the game he would not play in the second half. He had just injured his shoulder on the previous possession and was about to inform offensive coordinator Mike Canales that he didn't want to go back in, when the defense forced a quick punt and andrenaline took over and out he went for one more series. Un-BULL-ievable, indeed.
My fervent hope is that Matt Grothe will grow as a college football legend. An institution to South Florida football forever. After all that Grothe (GROTH-ee) accomplished, that is how it must be. The desire to shake our heads and swim in the question of 'what might have been' should be quelled. This player deserves better.
A recruit from Lake Gibson High in Polk County, Matt recieved lots of feelers and letters but hardly any scholarship offers. He came to Tampa with a huge chip on his shoulder. After impressing coaches as the scout team QB in his redshirt season, he became the starter the following year.
In his three plus years he helped beat Pat White and the Mountaineers, twice. The Bulls beat SEC stalwart Auburn AT Jordan-Hare, and of course rose to national prominence with that #2 ranking. He took the Bulls to their first ever bowl win. In 2007 he was one of only three FBS players to rush for more than 850 yards and pass for more than 2,500. The others were Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour and the Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow. Chuck Sullivan, the Director of Communications for the Big East said that if there was a Mt. Rushmore of this new era of the conference, "Matt Grothe would be on it." More important than these though, was his ebullient, nose to the grindstone, find a way to win nature. He was a player that truly led by example. He has a top ten list of plays at USF's football page on their official athletic website that gives you a sample of how special he has been to the success at USF.
Looking ahead to their first ever matchup with Florida State in Tallhassee this coming Saturday, the Bulls will no doubt try to draw strength and purpose from Grothe's absence. He said he will be on the sidelines, coaching and cajoling his replacement: redshirt freshman B.J. Daniels. I will watch. I will root. I will smile if Daniels flashes his speed and think about the coming era of USF football.
I wish Matt Grothe all the best in the future. I hope someday when Matt's on one of those lakes in Pasco County at sunrise using a full overhead cast to find that monster bass, he will fondly remember all those nights in Raymond James Stadium and know that the Bulls faithful will never forget #8.