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The SEC is dominating Florida recruits, and it's not just 1 team in Alabama. Unfortunately for Florida, it's competing with the rest of the SEC, and not getting as many as it did in the '90s and '00s.
It's not Big 4. But it's not Big 3 either. It's really Big 1, the SEC team (Florida), and then followed by FSU, Miami and UCF now. As far as UCF's offense, that came to a halt when Gabriel went down, and UCF lost yet more of its defense. Navy being down 3 scores and able to rally back meant UCF's defense was so bad, and it's offense with a frosh QB#3 out of camp, wasn't an option any more. UCF is still rebuilding this year too. In fact, down 27 players in the bowl, the only difference between beating Florida and Florida winning was 1 out of 3 bombs connecting, while Florida had 0 out of 3 bombs. The bowl was major suck for both teams. The only thing going for UCF right now is that Gus is 56 and not planning to leave just like when O'Leary came in at 57. We'll see if Gus is as loyal, but by 2009, George started pulling in the best non-AQ recruiting classes, and got UCF to finish AP Top 10.
I meant compared to the other 2 of the Big 3, not that Florida doesn't deserve to be in the SEC.
I don't disagree on Florida. But they are changing coaches so often... not sure that's going to work out well. In Florida's defense, that's a problem in much of the SEC.
Yeah, how Rutgers in the Big 10... I have no idea. A lot of ACC/Big East teams, have/had terrible attendance. Miami has struggles for most of the last 2 decades. They literally gave to be AP Top 10 to get people in seats. FSU shocked me by dropping down under 25,000 season ticket holders, as much as 5,000 season tickets under even UCF's sales, for a couple of years, and UCF only sells 27,000 season tickets (3,000 away team, 12,000 student, 3,000 Ticketmaster... for 45,000 total). But to see SEC teams struggle... that's new. Florida will never though.
You don't want 40% off the program's revenue.
Florida is a Top 3 SEC East team contender every year. Anyone thinking Florida is going to be in the middle or lower just isn't being objective. Florida still has the overall state mindshare. Miami became #4 in-state a decade ago, and the ACC is back to bring looked at as a medicore conference, as it should be. It's been overrated being there always been FSU, and then Clemson took over, but in reality... the SoS in the ACC is the worst. Even ESPN FPI had Clemson not even 10 spots better than UCF in SoS back in 2017.
Nah, Florida will remain relevant. It's just never going to be as dominant. The biggest issue for Miami and FSU right now is that UCF is signing more top 300 recruits within 100 miles every year now than it had in all seasons prior. Florida is losing some as well, but Florida still has the whole state mindshare. Miami does not. No one under 30 remembers Miami being good.
BTW, I still don't see UCF recruiting like Florida, let alone the SEC for that matter. But Miami is a joke, and FSU being in the ACC doesn't help it right now. FSU had to right the ship. The Big 3 is over. It's basically whomever is in the SEC, which includes Florida, and then FSU, Miami and UCF, and then everyone else. Miami attendance woes are now two decades long. No one likes playing at Miami with smaller crowds than even an unranked UCF program.
Sorry, but... Have you been following UCF's commits in 2022 and 2023? Sure, UCF lost some 2022s, and it's likely to lose a few 2023s that are still only verbals, but... UCF is getting the locals 100 miles away, top 300 prospects... more than all prior years... combined! Stop thinking UCF is just another G5, and recognize the truth... I.e., the *average* rating UCF recruit is still extremely high... they just don't get a lot of them. UCF is then winning he transfer portal as a top 20 program. Let me say that again... Top 20 average recruit rating, only let down by total recruits, but that is then back filled by... Top 20 transfer classes. Stop thinking this is the 2000s. And stop looking at UCF as some 20th century commuter school too, it has more on-campus housing than Ohio State.
A lot of sites say the same about Miami too. It's Big 3 bias... and it's still on-going. Florida is lucky to be in the SEC. Miami and FSU are not. Miami hasn't finished AP Top 10 in 2 decades. Heck, Wake, Georgia Tech and Duke have done more and won more in the ACC since Miami joined. FSU... the verdict is still out. Again, at least they have an on-campus stadium.
Tennessee is dealing with the NCAA... not even close to the same. Florida's recruiting woes, for a SEC program expected to be a consistently AP Top 10 program, are real. Now don't get me wrong, Florida is an AP Top 25 program, and Miami would love to be in Florida's position. A lot of programs would. But the idea that Florida will be the same program as the '90s and' 00s, who never loses to an unranked team, are over.
Florida high school students just aren't going to the Big 3 like they used to. It's just the future.
Finally, a realistic article! The pollsters really keep thinking the Big 3 are good and can 'bounce back,' but the reality is that the overall SEC is pulling in Florida high school talent. Florida has been struggling for a dozen years now, and should be happy they are in the SEC which, again, still draws in talent... and the fans. The biggest issue is changing coaches so much... although that's a general SEC issue, outside Alabama. The ACC is another story. FSU is in danger of becoming Miami. They've already had season ticket sales issues over the past 5 years. They are still far from being as overrated as Miami, and at least they have an on-campus stadium, but the ACC isn't exactly recruiting as well as it used to. Miami hasn't been good in 2 full decades, and wishes it even had UCF like attendence.. like even when UCF isn't ranked UCF like attendence. Even the license plate numbers don't lie either. Florida will still be around, and ranked in the AP Top 25 regularly, and never as overrated as Miami, but it's clearly not going to be as dominant, just like no Florida school is. And it's still too early to tell what the Big XII will do for UCF, because even UCF's average recruit rating for 2023, while one of the highest, are all still verbals. UCF is still relying on transfers, and is still lacking depth.
There's Kentucky... thinking outside the box... again. (Florida calls up NCAA violations hotline)
Yes, but it will get you in h+the 'Pillowfight of the Week' in ESPN's Bottom 10!
Florida kids just aren't staying in Florida these days, not like the 20th century. The SEC is still pulling in a lot of them, actually more than ever, they just aren't going to Florida, FSU and definitely not Miami as much. Besides, they can still play Florida schools by going to other teams in the SEC, let alone ACC. We'll see if that changes for Florida with NIL, but the broadcast, cable and now streaming increases have pushed most Florida kids to not stay in Florida, as they can be on national TV often, and not have to stay regional. UCF going into the Big XII is currently helping them more than being in the AAC, but there is a ceiling when it comes to how many blue chip kids will consider UCF when it plays no Florida teams in conference. Big XII membership helps Houston far more than UCF, of Cincinnati for that matter. Look no further than what has happened to West Virginia being in the Big XII, although Cincinnati now helps them. No, I still see the SEC getting more Florida blue chips, but I don't see Florida getting any more. In fact, Florida changing coaches so much, in the hope of a new Saban, let alone Spurrier, is the problem. No coaching stability. It's been UCF's complaint since O'Leary retired, although Gus came in at almost the same age, and has stated privately he likes not only the reduced pressure, but knows UCF's immense loyalty and refusal to fire coaches after even multiple losing seasons. O'Leary had multiple offers, especially after UCF finished AP Top 25, but even more so, Top 10, but he stayed. If Gus does as well, it'll be interesting how much coaching stability plays a part. Because right now the transfer portal has been a boom and bust, and it's difficult for Florida, FSU and even UCf to maintain any 3-4 year starters. There's just too much draw to the rest of the SEC, especially after they've proven themselves.
So ... I'm mixed. On the negative, it's a little too 'mark of the beast'** for me. But, there is one thing that is for certain ... The players loved it. And the recruits definitely loved it. And for UCF's recruiting ... that's most important. **Then again, maybe 'Beast Mode' fits?!
We'll see. Everyone also said that about a Notre Dame starter and transfer to UCF in 2019, but it ended up being 3rd string, true freshman Dillion Gabriel that finally won the job by the 3rd game. Mikey Keene, while he struggled being 'thrown into the fire' after Gabriel went down, and clearly could *not* run Gabriel's offense (as the horrendous loss at Navy proved), forced Malzahn to change to offense to a slow paced system. And since Keene still managed to put up, in 2021, better numbers, with less talent (UCF was down 27 players, and more lost the year before), than even McKenzie Milton in 2016, a lot of people are wondering if UCF may contend better in its final year of AAC play with Keene. Especially with Bowser coming back in the RB spot, an offense that has worked well together... when healthy.
Mike Bianchi is a Gator grad and a total troll at the Orlando Slantinel. Half the time UCF fans cringe at what comes out of his mouth. He says things even brash, chip-on-their-shoulder, UCF fans wouldn't even say.
UCF is extremely loyal. Just look at George O'Leary's tenure (2004-2015, age 57-69) at UCF. Gus is 56. He came to Orlando to retire from UCF, and that seems very likely with the Big XII.
Would have loved the have him at UCF. Seemed like he liked our APR too, like a lot of kids also looking at the degree as much as football. But Vandy is an outstanding school, and he'll get a solid education there that he probably wouldn't have been able to afford as easily without the scholarship. Hard to fault the kid for making that flip. Wish him the best of lucky.
Even better if he has a large buyout! It will deter them from firing him. For us UCF fans, we still laugh at USF paying Charlie Strong $4M/year, and eating the payouts of firing after firing since Skip Holtz a dozen years ago. That's a lot in G5 money, even for the AAC, which is still 1/3rd the TV money of any 'Power' conference.
It's even better to consider that 0-3 is against both current Big XII Texas Tech and future Big XII members Houston and UCF. Now everyone is going to say that doesn't matter, since these were 0.500 or barely over 0.500, SEC teams. Of course, Texas Tech was 0.500, UCF should have been only 0.500 -- i.e., UCF wouldn't have won against Boise State had it been down 27 players to start the season, like it ended. Only Houston was a 10-win AAC team. And they are also going to point to Alabama and Georgia being in the CFP. Just hope Alabama roasts Cincy. Otherwise, even if Cincy loses, but it's a close game -- just like Cincy against Georgia last year, or UCF in 2018 against Auburn -- compared to countless, alleged 'Power' teams that have been destroyed in semi-finals ... The top of the AAC, who are becoming the Big XII's newest members, will continue to have the argument, "Hey, we're no worse than the rest of the alleged 'Power 5' outside the SEC. How can you say (non-Clemson) ACC, Big XII and PAC-12 are better than us?" Why SEC fans don't conceed that, I don't know. I mean, no one is saying AAC / Big XII teams are better than the SEC. But they are pointing out that 'Power 5' is kinda a joke a this point, and it's more like Power 1.5 (SEC + half of the Big 10), plus Clemson (although not this year). Even Clemson had a worse SoS than UCF in 2017, which is still 20+ ranks higher than Cincy's SoS this year, at least according to the ESPN FPI. Heck, UCF's SoS in 2017 was better than Ohio State's in 2020!
That argument doesn't work on teams like UCF, which was not only in a down year, but had 27 players who didn't dress since season start, and had less than 50 scholarship players (possibly closer to 40), dress for the bowl, due to injuries, opt outs and transfers. Heck, UCF's RB#1, Bowser, only played his 2nd, complete game of the sesaon, the first since Boise State, it's very first game. And he still wasn't 100%. UCF was without all its other skill positions, and while everyone focused on Jones, Keene was a true freshmen backup QB thrown into the fire and not accurate at all either. Excuses are everywhere. UCF just had far more than Florida. But no one cared. Just like no one cared UCF was on RB#3 and converted WR to RB#4 in 2017 against Auburn as well, among countless opt-outs. The only time UCF had less people out in a bowl game was against LSU in 2018. And, ironically, UCF lost that one.
That's basically what happened to him at Troy.
Remember, it's not so much SEC/Florida. It's more ACC/FSU-Miami ... especially Miami who has fared far worse against ranked teams, and hasn't finished AP Top 10 in nearly 2 decades. That's why Miami has become the #4 fanbase in the state of Florida much of the past decade, and they are not even close any more. Miami has to be ranked AP Top 10 to get as many people in its stadium as UCF gets as a 0.500 team. That's just reality. Even Kirk Herbstreit pointed it out this year, and Kirk used to really rag UCF until 2018.
No, no, no ... UCF has to know they are at the 'kiddie table!' They, and their recruits, are not allowed to do anything of the sorts! No 'state champion' T-shirts like Miami prints every year they beat FSU if either FSU also beats Florida, or Miami beats Florida direction. No 'state champion' Rings like FSU prints any year they beat both Miami and Florida. No joke, the very year (2015) FSU lost to Houston (in the AAC, with UCF), they made up 'state champion' rings! (Google it!) No ... Only the 'Big 3' gets to do that, even though UCF has over 15% of the state that claims UCF is their #1 team, nearly twice as many that claim Miami, and is #4 to UCF as an in-state fanbase. Especially since Miami hasn't finished AP Top 10 in early 2 decades, anyone under 30 hardly remembers them 'good,' while UCF has finished AP Top 10 twice (AP Top 11 no less than 3 times) in the past decade. Heck, isn't Miami 1-23 against ranked teams now? UCF is closer to 50% in the same time period.