TODAY Show Challenge

USF competed in the show’s College Challenge, which was won by the University of Tennessee.


Video: Katy Hennig | USF News 

By Barbara Melendez

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 20, 2012) – The University of South Florida Herd of Thunder was playing, the beach balls were flying, the flip flops were flipping and Rocky was rocking a hula skirt and coconuts to welcome Sara Haines, the TODAY Show Fourth Hour correspondent, to USF. 


Haines’ visit was one of six she’s in the process of making to the finalists in TODAY’s College Challenge. This competition to find the school with the greatest creativity, originality and most school spirit is heating up as the schools put their best feet forward to impress viewers. USF’s was the fourth visit on her list. The video clip is available here or visit


There’s still time to vote for USF and get family and friends to vote as well. Voting is easy. Click here or visit The deadline to get your vote in is Sept. 21, by 3 p.m. The winner will be announced Sept. 24, at The winning college will have the fourth hour of TODAY broadcasting live from its campus during the first week of October. 


On Monday, Sept. 24, the TODAY Show announced that the University of Tennessee, with more than 150,000 votes, won the College Challenge and will host the Fourth Hour.


True to tropical weather, it rains sometimes, but fortunately no downpour materialized from the partly cloudy sprinkling skies as the crowd played up the “tropical paradise” theme. The Marshall Student Center Bulls fountain stood in for the Gulf waters beachgoers typically enjoy. Students got their point across to the show’s hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb during live segments between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. surrounded by flowered leis, green and gold tee shirts and beach toys.


Early arriving students were treated to breakfast starting at 8:30 a.m. They were joined throughout the morning by Rocky in his unique tropical outfit, the Herd of Thunder, the Sun Dolls, USF’s athletes and cheerleaders, the Green and Gold Guys, and the Beef Studs along with USF President Judy Genshaft and USF Athletic Director Doug Woolard. 


“We put on a great show this morning for TODAY, now we have to make sure all of USF’s alumni and friends barrage their website with votes!” said Lara Wade-Martinez, USF’s media and public affairs manager.


Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563.

Slideshow by Aimee Blodgett | USF News