NBC's TODAY Show dropped in Thursday morning at the Tampa campus of the University of South Florida, and a longer visit may just be in the university's future.
USF is one of six finalists in the show's “Kathie Lee and Hoda Go Back to College” contest, which is trying to find the institution "with the greatest creativity, originality and most school spirit." The institution that gets the most online votes from viewers will have the fourth hour of the Today Show broadcast live from its campus next month.
Shortly before correspondent Sara Haines' first live report, members of USF's Herd of Thunder marching band warmed up while TODAY Show producers moved cheerleaders, fans and Rocky the Bull into their proper places. USF Student Body President Brian Goff and Vice President George Papadeas took in the action from lounge chairs set up in the Bulls' Fountain outside the Marshall Student Center.
"It's a great turn-out, it's important to show it off cause that's how we got in this contest in the first place is being the most school spirited," Goff said.
Asked how he thought USF would do in the competition, Goff, decked out in sunglasses and a Hawaiian lei, didn't pause. "Oh, we'll win it, without a doubt."
USF's Social Media Coordinator Jenna Withrow says such a victory would expose the university's work to a new audience.
"We're very proud of what we do at the University of South Florida, we're a young university, but we're climbing the rankings in research and to be able to put ourselves in the national spotlight in front of the TODAY Show audience would be wonderful to show them what we're all about."