The UCF Knights had the perfect opportunity to shut up their critics by agreeing to a two-for-one deal to play the Florida Gators, and they blew it. Florida Athletic Director Scott Stricklin would agree to the deal with the Knights by playing two games in Gainesville and one in Orlando.
To most smaller Division I teams, that would sound like a great deal, but not for UCF. They are taking the all-or-nothing approach to a new level, and once again are digging their own grave.
UCF Athletic Director Danny White, basically burned that deal to the ground and possibly other deals in the future.
“Top-10 programs don’t schedule 2-for-1 series where the balance is not in their favor,” White said. “Our growing fan base and our student-athletes deserve better than that.”
White may be right about that. However, his program will go undefeated back-to-back years and have nothing to show for it. Sure, they get to play in another nice bowl game, but they won’t be a part of the big picture, and that’s missing out on the College Football Playoff.
UCF’s argument of “no one will play us” is dead in the water. Teams are now offering to come into Orlando and play the Knights, and their refusal is not a good look for a program that tries to consider themselves a major player in the college football world. There have been so teams in the same position as UCF trying to build a major program, but they didn’t start to gain recognition until they played some of the big boys across the country.
UCF is dying to be recognized as one of the best teams in the country, but in order for that to happen, you have to be willing to play the big boys, even if it’s on their terms.
The UAB Blazers are doing it. They went to Texas A&M this year and played a pretty decent game in the first half. They also played LSU back in 2000 and defeated Nick Saban in Baton Rouge. So, even though it can be done, UCF just doesn’t want to do it. They have convinced themselves that they can continue to play this cat-and-mouse game, and eventually they will come out on top.
But UCF may have to ask themselves, what if that rise to the top never comes? Their window may be closing sooner than they think, but they seem content with letting it close anyways.