WASHINGTON, D.C. — Howard University head football coach Larry Scott was surprised when former USF head coach Jim Leavitt recruited him to play for the Bulls first team in school history.
"My immediate reaction was like, where? With who?"
Leavitt originally recruited Scott to play at Kansas State, while Leavitt was an assistant with the Wildcats. After accepting the USF head coaching position he wanted Scott, a Sebring-native, to follow him to Tampa. Scott, a former offensive lineman, decided to take the leap of faith.
"I came over and was just sold on a vision," Scott said. "Sold on 'This is where our locker room could potentially be. Here’s where a practice field could potentially be.'"
"It was just one trailer, in a dirt, grass field," Scott fondly recalled. "Grass hadn’t even grown all in on it. It was just a complete vision. I was sold."
The Bulls had a full season of practice and scrimmages in 1996. They hit the field for their first-ever game on September 6, 1997 (an 80-3 win over Kentucky Wesleyan).
Scott would return to USF as an assistant from 2005-2012, joining a staff that saw the best run of success in program history. After making stops as an assistant at Miami, Tennessee, and Florida, Howard University hired Scott as head coach in 2020.
Scott, 45, said it isn't difficult to sell his vision to players as long as he does it the right way.
"When you can find all the authenticity that you can in who you are and what you’re really all about, what it is that you want the program to look like… it’s really not a big sales job when you’re really just pouring yourself into what it is that you do," said Scott.
This weekend, Howard visits Tampa for a date with USF at Raymond James Stadium. Coach Scott said his team's treating it like a business trip, but he also wants them to embrace playing on a big stage against an AAC opponent.
"It’s something to be excited about. One of those opportunities that you build another memory with while you’ve been on this journey, in this college football game," Scott added. "That’s what it is. You stack up memorable opportunities like that, and that will definitely be one of them."
Scott admitted it'll be a very different feeling when he walks onto the Bulls field as the visiting head coach.
"I’ve tried not to really think about that. I’m a guy that wears his true emotions on his sleeve sometimes, especially when it comes to sentimental things like that," he said. "Those are the moments that you actually have to pinch yourself sometimes in life, and really take it all in and appreciate that, too."
Scott still owns a home in the Tampa Bay area and said he's expecting plenty of friends and family to be in the stands Saturday night.
The Bulls (0-1) and Bison (0-2) kick off at 7 p.m.