We all felt fear: Strong recalls Hurricane Irma, team ready to help community

By Lindsay Liquori, Spectrum Sports
Last Updated: Tuesday, September 12, 2017, 5:50 PM EDT

"It was fear," said Bulls head coach Charlie Strong, describing his first experience.

"We all felt fear. There’s anxiety.  You felt like there’s something that’s coming and you can’t stop it."

An already short week of preparation just got shorter for the 22nd ranked Bulls.  But in the wake of Hurricane Irma, talking about Illinois was secondary.

"You know, I wake up every day and my world is just centered around football," said the Bulls first year coach.  "What we went through the last few days, just puts everything in perspective."

Charlie Strong and some players waited out the storm at the Morsani Football Complex, which never lost power.  However, for a lot of them it was their first hurricane.

"We just wanted to make sure that they were okay," said Strong.  "We had a chance to really sit around and bond together before the storm did roll in."

The storm is over, but area clean-up is just beginning.  With many schools still closed, most prep football games are cancelled Friday.  Strong invited every coach and team in the state to the game.  They also invited first responders and their families ...free of charge.

"It’s all about us just giving back," said Strong.  "We’re not going through what they are going through, but we can help them get  through what they are going through."

The mentality with just three days to prepare…win this for people impacted by Irma.

"Our team understands that," said Strong.  "We I was talking about it this morning in our staff meeting, I just said I think it would be great right now for the community to give them just a sense of relief."

USF announced Tuesday they will play their home game Friday vs. Lovie Smith and Illinois as scheduled.  Kick-off is set for 7 p.m.

Complimentary admission details per USF release:

First responders, or a family member if the responder is working, will be asked to provide their official issued ID, or a copy if the responder is not present, at the Raymond James Stadium south plaza will call ticket window on Friday evening.  

Florida high school football teams wishing to attend the game are asked to contact Mike Giglio (giglio@usf.edu) or Lacey King (laceyk@usf.edu) of the USF football program for step-by-step instructions on obtaining admission.

Pre-registration is necessary to receive the complimentary admission, which will be available for players and coaches of the high school teams. Requests must be received by noon on Friday.