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USF is 5-0

The hunter is now the hunted.

Your University of South Florida Bulls, perhaps dizzy from their unprecedented, unpredicted, unreal! ranking in the AP writers’ poll as the No. 6 team in the nation, were severely challenged by a team that used to be them, the Florida Atlantic University Owls. But the Bulls withstood the challenge [1] and the almost inevitable letdown (Owls? Who? Who?), prevailing 35-23 at Fort Lauderdale and raising their record to 5-0.

When I attended USF, there was a rule that you had to fulfill nine credits during a summer semester. FAU wasn’t far from the condo my parents owned in Hallandale. There was some talk I should try to do my summer on their campus, in Boca Raton, to save on dorm expenses. But I didn’t.

And honestly, that’s all I know about Florida Atlantic. That and the revered former coach of the University of Miami Howard Schnellenberger is their coach. But I just found that out.

USF rose from No. 18 to No. 6 [2] last week by defeating powerhouse West Virginia on the same night another Florida team was annoying me in Queens [3]. The Bulls have been a most welcome Band-Aid on my deep, deep, deep baseball-related wound this week. USF being ranked No. 6 is like the Savannah Sand Gnats winning the NLCS.

Over the Mets, probably. If the Mets in fact were to qualify. Which we all know couldn’t happen this year.

That’s the thing, damn it. I can’t truly enjoy anything anymore. I can’t enjoy believing that something won’t go wrong. I can’t enjoy looking forward to success for another team in another sport. I’m not even really enjoying the Cubs and Phillies and Yankees flailing away in their respective endeavors because I now understand like I never understood before that it could all end without warning…or warning less urgent than playing .500 ball for four months.

But the Bulls don’t know that. In Tampa, it’s the spiritual equivalent of 1997 [4] (the year our football program began, ironically for me if no one else). I’m suddenly reading articles about USF in the New York papers [5]. In Florida, they’re full of talk about how the Bulls may be the best team in the state [6]. Better than the gosh darn Gators for crying out loud! I’m hearing about how students for the first time ever are lining up for tickets, how the Bulls are selling out home and road games.

This is amazin’, amazin’, amazin’…and I’m holding my breath wondering how badly it’s gonna end.

Today SNY was showing the Beltran/Delgado vs. Pujols home run derby [7] from August of ’06. That’s a great game, yet all I could think while looking in on it was “you poor people sitting there. You don’t know that the Mets aren’t going to win the World Series in 2006, aren’t going to make the World Series. And when, come October 2006, you say ‘wait ’til next year!’…you won’t wanna know.”

Bulls are 5-0 and though I know the score was a little closer than it should have been, they should remain highly ranked (hell, No. 5 Wisconsin lost, so maybe they’ll move up). I should just enjoy the moment, I guess, and not worry about where it might all lead.

Remind me to remember that come spring, would you?