Andrews Returns Home This Week With ESPN Crew
TAMPA - Erin Andrews has interviewed virtually every big-time college football coach in every conceivable situation. However, that's nothing compared to the pressure she is facing tonight. "I've got to figure where to take the crew out to dinner," Andrews said. Andrews returns home to Tampa as part of ESPN's broadcast crew (Chris Fowler, Craig James and Jesse Palmer) for Thursday's Pittsburgh-University of South Florida game. It will be USF's first Thursday night ESPN home game and Andrews' first in her hometown since joining ESPN as a sideline reporter in 2004. A Bloomingdale High and University of Florida graduate, Andrews said USF's 5-0 start proves last year's success wasn't a fluke."Just the fact to carry over all the success and hype from last year, it's huge for the program," Andrews said. "The last thing anyone wanted to see for USF was that last year was a fluke. "When they were No. 2 in the nation last year, I don't even know where Florida was the Gators were No. 15. Everyone had a good time with me, 'Hey, USF is ranked higher than Florida.' Well, they can say that again this week." USF is No. 10 and Florida is No. 12. An intern with WFLA, Channel 8 from 1997 to 2000, Andrews remembers covering the early days of USF's program. "Back then, when nothing was going on with the Bucs, Lightning, Florida or Florida State, it would be like 'let's go see what's happening with USF' and we'd head over to the coaches trailers," she said. "I was going to Florida at the time and remember coming back to Tampa and it was strange - no one had any USF football gear. "But when I came home for Christmas last year, everything had changed. Everyone has the USF gear and there were billboards all over town." Arguably the most popular female in sports media - Playboy.com named her America's Sexiest Sportscaster - Andrews also is the most scrutinized. Andrews, 30, said she still loves her job. "I really enjoy what I'm doing," Andrews said. "Working last week's USC-Oregon State game was such a rush. I really enjoy that. People bring up to me about going into entertainment, but it doesn't have that kind of drama like in sports. "I'm such a big fan. I love sports." Returning home this weekend will allow Andrews to spend time with her family, her golden retriever and, of course, hit a couple of her favorite spots - La Teresita and Village Inn. "I always go to Village Inn for breakfast with my dad Steve," she said. "I crush the French toast, scrambled eggs and bacon. I'm totally excited for that." 12-0 USF BCS-BOUND? Jerry Palm of CollegeBCS.com admits it is extremely early to project the BCS title game, but he said a 12-0 USF would get into the national title game over a one-loss Pac-10, Big 12 or SEC team. "I think they get in unless Kansas tanks the rest of the season," Palm said. "There's a long way to go, and these things have a way of working themselves out. "However, no major undefeated team has finished behind a team with a loss in the BCS standings. No reason to expect USF to be the first." ESPN contributor Beano Cook also thinks the Bulls would reach the Jan. 8 Orange Bowl. Cook predicted a Penn State-USF national title game Tuesday on a Seattle radio station. IF GROTHE HAD A VOTE: There has been a lot of spirited discussion on my Bulls.TBO.com blog about my ranking USF No. 10 on my AP ballot. QB Matt Grothe, however, said he wasn't surprised the Bulls are ranked No. 10. "I figured we'd be between 7 and 10, and we were there," Grothe said. "From what we've done in the past, and this year, it's kind of hard to put us up there in front of some other teams doing just as well. We'll be fine, if we keep winning." Grothe said he would have voted Alabama No. 1 this week. "I think they're the best team in the country right now," he said.