Although the University of South Florida is a large public university with nearly 50,000 students, it did not have a football team until 1997. It started its team in 1997 in Division 1-AA (now called the Football Championship Subdivision) and was promoted to Division 1-AA. 1-A (now called the Football Bowl Subdivision) in 2001. Surprisingly, in this short time of playing football, the program has been ranked No. 2 in the nation, awarded in an automatic qualifying conference (the Big East ), played in several bowls and defeated Notre Dame.
The football helmet was originally gold with a green mask. It had a bull’s head coming out of a green square. The lower part of the bull’s head had a black shadow and its eyes can be seen; however, its main focus was the protruding horns, mouth, and snout. Frankly, it looked like something you might see in the USFL, Arena League Football, or NFL-Europe. It was not the prototype NCAA football helmet which often, but not always, has some lettering or design features that highlight the name of the school and not just the mascot. The logo morphed into the current U logo which is in the shape of a bull’s head. This logo has been in use since 2003. The U is not connected to the top of the bull’s head. It starts at one horn, goes down one side of the bull’s head, through the snout, up the other side of the bull’s head, and out the other horn. The original U was light to medium green with a black outline after leaving a gap from the gold background around the bull’s head. This was changed in 2005 to a black U and subsequently changed back to a dark green. USF experimented with a white background and green U and green vertical stripe in late 2008 at the St. Petersburg Bowl game and then used it selectively in 2009 and most of 2010. Once in 2010, it reverted to the gold helmet.
With the start of 2011, the USF Bulls have three helmet options. All three helmets have the familiar U logo. Options include a dark green helmet with a gold U outlined in white, a gold helmet with a dark green U outlined in white, and a white helmet with dark green and gold stripes plus a dark green U. outlined in gold. All three football helmets have the familiar dark green mask. The dark green helmet will go down in history as the one worn by the USF when they defeated Notre Dame on September 3, 2011. The U logo has been in use since 2003 and, apart from a slight reduction in 2005, has been identical. since then. The trend for many football helmets, and South Florida is no different, is to have more than one style of helmet and occasionally wear different ones for special occasions like a bowl game. It will be interesting to see what the South Florida football helmet will look like in the future.