Open letter to UCF football fans: 6 things you need to understand
UCF was the talk of the college football world this weekend due to its marquee matchup with Cincinnati and the decision by ESPN’s College GameDay to broadcast from Orlando. It was a great scene, and UCF represented itself well.
The value of the amount of exposure generated Saturday for the program is tough to quantify exactly, but let’s just say it was significant. And well deserved! UCF has had a great run!
So, why isn’t it enough? Why do we get social comments and emails asking us why we hate UCF? Let’s attempt to answer this question (and more):
1. Nobody is rooting against UCF. Quite the opposite.
I know a number of college football fans that have rolled their eyes at UCF over the past year, but I’ve literally heard none of them actively root against them. In fact, it’s the opposite. Almost everyone is rooting for UCF. Why? Because they’re fun to watch, it’s a great story, and most fans actually prefer a degree of chaos in college football.
In our binary world, especially on social media, everything typically gets reduced to two extreme sides. You either hate UCF or you love them. Wrong. Most people think they’re a great football team while maintaining a position that they still don’t deserve to get into the playoff. And guess what. That’s a completely reasonable position to have!
2. Yes, we make fun of UCF. Welcome to college football.
So, let’s get to the negativity. We’re repeatedly asked… what’s your problem? Why so negative on UCF? Why are you poking fun at UCF?
First, you brought it on yourself. UCF has essentially been the master trolls in college football since the end of the last season. The national championship claims, the parades, the poking at other teams and conferences. And guess what? I bid you… well done! It was great. It was fun. It was effective.
But, do you really expect nobody to respond? C’mon! Don’t throw your hat in the ring if you can’t take a punch!
Second, quit thinking you’re so special. We make fun of everyone!
My goodness, do you know how often we make fun of the Big Ten? Or the ACC? Do you realize the beating Tennessee football has taken in recent years on social media?
I realize most UCF fans weren’t watching college football in 2012 (zing!), but do you recall how brutal it got for Notre Dame?
Honestly, by being so sensitive, UCF fans are showing that they aren’t ready for primetime more than that crappy strength of schedule.
3. Yes, your strength of schedule matters.
Kirk Herbstreit doesn’t have it out for UCF. He was telling the truth when he said UCF’s strength of schedule was garbage. Because it is.
Yes, we all realize that UCF’s schedule is a set few years out and that there’s nothing they could do about it this year. Again, welcome to college football.
Yes, we realize that most big brand teams probably don’t want to schedule a home-and-home series with you. So what? Two seasons of pounding a bunch of average teams doesn’t earn you that. Go play on the road. Lane Kiffin took his FAU team to Oklahoma this season. Don’t complain about scheduling. Make it happen. Just like everyone else.
4. The win over Auburn was great. But it matters less than you think.
Auburn was good last year. But they already had three losses heading into the bowl game. They had just lost the SEC Championship Game and everything they were aiming for in that season had just vanished. The game was ripe for an upset.
It doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great feather in the cap for UCF. It was! But stop acting like you went through a regular season in the SEC West. You didn’t.
5. UCF fans need to study Boise State from 2002-2010.
Boise State’s run in the 2000’s provides a very informative example for what UCF can aspire to be, and there are some key takeaways from this run by the Broncos:
First, Boise State built their brand over a number of years of outstanding results.
During 2002-2004, Boise State had multiple one-loss seasons and a relatively consistent presence in the AP top 25. In 2006, Boise State took advantage of an undefeated season and knocked off Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.
In 2008, the team went undefeated, then lost in a no. 9 vs. no. 11 bowl matchup against TCU. The following season, the Broncos started the season ranked no. 16. They again went undefeated, but this time beat TCU in the bowl game in a no. 6 vs. no. 3 matchup. As a result, Boise State started the 2010 season ranked no. 3 in the AP top 25. The Broncos started the season traveling to a non-neutral site, neutral-site game in Maryland against no. 13 Virginia Tech. They beat them. Boise State continued a run that would have likely landed it in the top two in the BCS, despite a late November loss to Nevada.
Many years of winning football led to a very realistic championship opportunity for a non-power 5 conference team (and this is when you had to be in the top two, rather than the top four).
Second, Boise State repeatedly traveled to play big teams on the road during this time. Boise State beat teams like Oregon, Virginia Tech, TCU and Oklahoma. They traveled to Athens and lost to Georgia in 2005. They traveled to Seattle in 2007 and lost to Washington.
It took time, tough road games and consistency to build Boise State into the brand of football that it became in the late 2000’s. There’s your model, UCF. Don’t be so entitled!
6. Could UCF ever get into a 4-team playoff?
Yes. It probably won’t happen this year. But similar to Boise State, you can set up the program to make a run next year. Finish off the season with another win, then beat up on a power team in another New Years Six bowl. UCF will enter the 2019 season with probably a top ten ranking.
Going undefeated in 2019 in this scenario would likely land the UCF with one of the top 4 spots. The schedule isn’t great again, but UCF does play Stanford at home next year along with games at Pitt and at Cincinnati.
With all of that said, good luck! I’m rooting for chaos, and even for UCF to make the playoff this year. How about a no. 1 Alabama vs. no. 4 UCF? Be careful what you wish for…