You have to hand it to South Florida, they understand to be taken seriously in the college football world, you have to earn respect. That’s something Central Florida hasn’t yet seemed to grasp.

There’s no doubt the AAC schools have a tough road to climb to gain national respect but the best way to accomplish that lofty goal is to go out on the road and beat big-time programs. That’s a lesson both schools should have learned from Florida State, which once scheduled any team, anywhere as an independent program. Bobby Bowden’s FSU program eventual gained enough national notoriety, it joined the ACC.

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While UCF has earned a level of respect after two outstanding seasons on the field, the school’s reluctance to agree to 2-for-1 games against Power 5 opponents is coming back to haunt them in the eyes of many. If the Knights aren’t willing to accept these deals, in-state rival USF is happy to travel twice to Tuscaloosa and Gainesville in order to get Alabama and Florida to travel to Tampa.

In what will likely be the most anticipated home game in the history of the program, USF will host Alabama in 2023, the two schools announced this week. In return, USF will make two trips to Tuscaloosa — one in 2024 and another in 2026.

Adding Alabama to the schedule was just the latest in a long line of marquee games USF has added to its future slate. Following this historic agreement with the SEC’s No. 1 program, USF delivered a clear message to UCF: