TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - The Bulls are in building mode and University of South Florida Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly is leading the way.
In just the last couple of weeks, Kelly struck two 3-game deals - one with Miami and the other with NCAA football royalty, Alabama.
"We're playing 15 ACC and SEC teams in the next couple of years, 17 Power Six opponents over the course of the next 10 years," said Kelly. "That's amongst the nation's leaders. My goal is to make sure we have the most challenging non-conference schedule."
Florida, Texas, and Wisconsin are among five power programs on USF's schedule over the next decade.
Kelly, who was previously the COO of the College Football Playoff, is using his background to make sure he sets up the Bulls for success in the years to come.
"You have to kind of catch the committee's attention with your strength of schedule, having the opportunity to play, and ultimately beat teams that catch the attention on the national level," he said. "Yes, I feel very good about how we're positioned with that type of schedule we're playing."
The news of USF's 2-for-1 deal with Alabama left even some UCF fans questioning whether their program is being too stubborn about scheduling tough teams. The self-proclaimed national champions have refused to do so unless big-time programs give them a 1-for-1 deal.
"I frankly have been pretty surprised by some of the fan reaction from their side about how we approach our scheduling," said Kelly. "To us, we're worried about how USF schedules. We know what we're willing to do, what makes sense for us and our vision for our future."
That future now includes teams that have a combined 34 national championships. This young program still has a long way to go, but has already accomplished so much when you take a step back to check its history.
"We won 150 games faster than any program in the state of Florida," said Kelly. "Faster than Florida, Florida State, Miami, UCF. That speaks well to what we've done through our 22-year history. But now, when you look for the next 10 years, the next 20 years, we know we want to continue to challenge and be elite for American Athletic Conference championships, but we want to have fun and challenge ourselves in the non-conference schedule as well."
The next 22 years should be bigger and better. Kelly says more scheduling announcements could be on the way.
"I don't know how fast, but definitely, I would stay tuned!" he told FOX 13 News.
The Bulls will open their 2019 campaign against Big Ten foe, Wisconsin, August 30.