Even though the University of South Florida is a large, public university with almost 50,000 students, it did not have a football team until 1997. It started its team in 1997 in Division 1-AA (now called Football Championship Subdivision) and moved up to Division 1-A (now called Football Bowl Subdivision) in 2001. Amazingly in this short time of playing football, the program has been ranked as high as Number 2 in the nation, been granted in an Automatic Qualifier conference (the Big East), played in various bowls, and beaten Notre Dame.
The football helmet was originally gold with a green facemask. It had a bull head coming out of a green square. The bottom of the bull head had a black shadow and you see its eyes; however, its main focus was the horns coming out, the mouth and snout. Frankly, it looked like something you might see in the USFL, Arena League Football or NFL-Europe. It was not your prototypical NCAA football helmet which often, but not always, have some lettering or design features highlighted the school name and not just the mascot. The logo morphed into the current U logo which is shaped like the head of a bull. This logo has been in use since 2003. The U is not connected at the top of the bull’s head. It starts on one horn, runs down the bull’s head on one side, across its 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 coming after allowing a space of the gold background around the bull’s head. This was switched in 2005 to a black U, and was subsequently switched back to a dark green. USF experimented with a white background and green U and green vertical stripe at the end of 2008 in the St. Petersburg Bowl game and later used it selectively in 2009 and most of 2010. Once in 2010, it went back to the gold helmet.
With the start of 2011, the USF Bulls have three helmet options. All three helmets have the familiar U logo. The 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 of these football helmets have the familiar dark green facemask. The dark green helmet will go down in history as the one used by USF when they defeated Notre Dame on September 3, 2011. The U logo has been in use since 2003 and other than a slight downsizing of it in 2005, has been identical since then. The trend of many football helmets, and South Florida is no different, is to have more than 1 style of helmet, and to occasionally to use 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.