That was quite an idea Florida Blood Services came up with to latch onto the mercurial interest in USF's football program: Donate blood this week at any of the 13 donor centers and receive an "I BLEED GREEN & GOLD T-shirt.
Grant Jefferies' photo on the front page of Thursday's Herald captured the spirit of the cause. Blood donor Jeanette Wirz was all smiles as she accepted her shirt — a great-looking one, too, in the Bulls' green and gold colors with the school's official logo — from Tracie Smith at the Lakewood Ranch Blood Center.
The promotion has been so successful that FBS is extending the T-shirt offer beyond this week.
"Everybody wants one,'' said Amy Lee, FBS community relations manager for Manatee and Hillsborough counties. Lee told me this morning that another 6,000 shirts have been ordered, and FBS hopes to have the shirts available in its mobile units next week.
It's one thing to fork out $10-$20 for a T-shirt. It's another to receive a free shirt of the area's hottest team for donating blood that might be used to save lives.
"We've done shirts before with USF,'' said Lee, ''but it's never been like this.''
Having the fifth-ranked team in the nation changes a lot of things.