USF was founded in 1956. However, the university was not officially named until the following year, and courses did not start until 1960. Some of the original proposed names included "Citrus State University", "Sunshine State University," "The University of the Western Hemisphere," "Ponce de Leon University," "Flamerica University," and "The University of Florida at Temple Terrace."
Every single one of those choices would have been amazing.
Citrus State? Sounds like the name I'd give to a Create-A-School team in my EA Sports NCAA game.
Sunshine State University? So horrible it's awesome. Sounds like the name of a university in a bad 80's college movie.
The University of the Western Hemisphere??? Think of the balls you have to have to suggest that. Let me remind you this is in the late 1950's, they are hundreds of universities around the country by this point, many of which are already 100 years old. It would be like starting an NFL franchise right now and calling it the United States Krush.
Ponce de Leon University? You have my word, I will refer to USF as Ponce de Leon University You have my word. By the way, you're pretty much locked in to Conquistadors as your nickname at that point, right? Pretty sure the Ponce De Leon Runnin' Rebels just don't have the right ring to it.
Flamerica University? Seriously you guys, an adult actually suggested this and other adults thought it was at least worth putting up to a vote. I only wish you could have been drinking a glass of milk before you read that so you could have spit it out accordingly. I change my mind, I will here-to-fore refer to it as Flamerica University from now on.
Alright so, with all of those amazing and wonderful choices, how do you end up with South Florida? In Tampa???
It was built on the site of Henderson Air Field, a World War II airstrip. Although located in west-central Florida, at the time of establishment USF was the southernmost public university in the State of Florida, a geographic situation that lent USF its sometimes confusing name.So much for thinking ahead, Flamerica. Oh, and then there's this:
The university first grew under the leadership of John Allen, who was the president from 1957 until 1970. During this time, the university expanded rapidly, due in part to the first graduate degree programs commencing in 1964. Allen elected to resign and retire in 1970. Under Allen's leadership, USF touted itself as the "Harvard of the South".
"Madam, north, south, east, or west, there's only one HAAAAAAR-vard."Oh, and then there's this:
Dr. Allen was known for his opposition to college sports in favor of an environment more academically centered.Oops. Dr. Jack Allen hates Matt Grothe.
Alright, so what about the Bulls? How'd we get there? Not from all of the free-range bulls roaming the Everglades I assume...
From the early name suggestions of "Desert Rats" to "Florida Chickens" and even after a student-election run-off with the "Buccaneer", the Golden Brahman was finally voted as the mascot of USF in November 1962. The rationale for the Brahman was since Florida was a cattle-raising state like Texas; students wanted something comparable to the Texas Longhorns. In the late 1980's, the mascot evolved into the "Bulls" for promotional reasons.Again, the alternatives were better. Desert Rats...hard to argue with that. Especially for a University situated on a body of water.
Florida Chickens? So it would have been the University of South Florida Florida Chickens? I can't find any reason why that wouldn't have been a good idea.
So they changed Brahman for "promotional reasons," eh? Sure, Brahman is a specific breed of cattle so I can see why it was a little confusing but it also represents the Hindu beliefs in unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality which is the Divine Ground of all matter, energy, time, space, being and everything beyond in this Universe, which, could have made for a very peppy fight song.