With recent reports of an email exchange between Central Florida athletic director Danny White and his counterpart at Florida, Scott Stricklin about a proposed 2-1 series between the Knights and Gators, per the Orlando Sentinel, Stricklin and UF need to get over themselves and off their proverbial high horse.
Stricklin, a 48-year-native of Jackson, Mississippi, has been the athletic director of Florida since 2016 after serving under the same role at his alma mater, Mississippi State. Under his watch in Gainesville, he hired former Bulldogs head coach, Dan Mullen away from Starksville. Stricklin would also be appointed to the CFP selection committee on a three-year term.
While it is speculation and unconfirmed, there are some reports that suggest that Stricklin used his position on the CFP committee to help Florida avoid a possible Peach Bowl matchup with UCF.
Again, this is unconfirmed. But if one were to look at the optics of it, and now see both his and Florida’s heavy-handed 2-1 scheduling offer with UCF. It’s not a good look for one of the so-called heavyweights of the SEC.
Being both an Ohio State fan, family alum and new member of the Knights Watch, this is more than just about the Knights making a name for themselves, but about taking respect, both on and off the field.
Clearly, Stricklin is trying to force UCF’s hand in acting like they are doing Central Florida a favor. Surely, if one can take a closer look at the scheduling controversy, this is more like a cause of the SEC, UF and Stricklin trying to bully and use a form of brand leverage.
The rationale that I am seeing is that because Florida is a part of the SEC, their name and brand image that they can make unfair demands in negotiating, when it reality, Florida is becoming the closest thing to being an has-been in their own state.
Hard to believe that in the uber-rich, stupidly-talented football factory that is Florida that UF, is at best, fourth behind Miami, Florida State and UCF and barely above South Florida and Florida Atlantic.
The truth hurts, and Florida and Stricklin deep down know this, which is why they are secretly afraid of the rising powerhouse roughly an hour and half that is growing in Orlando.
Since Urban Meyer left in 2010, Florida is 61-39, appeared in three conference title games, posted two double-digit win seasons and are 3-2 in bowl games, but 0-1 in New Year’s Day bowls.
In that same time period, UCF has gone 66-38, won six conference titles, four double-digit win seasons, beaten top programs such as Georgia–and most recently–Auburn and Baylor in New Year’s Day bowl games such as the Peach and Fiesta Bowls–with another SEC foe, LSU waiting for them in Glendale–claimed one national title and are currently in the throes of a 25-game win streak.
One would think that a glorified mid-level program such as Florida would be better than their record. But that is the truth.
Florida has no reason or right to make such arrogant and bloated demands.
While elitist SEC apologists and fan boys will quickly point out that the Gators are a proverbial blue blood and that UCF is nothing more than a glorified second-tier directional school and overgrown community college tucked in the city that Disney built, while playing in a inferior conference such as the American Athletic Conference, since starting their football program in 1979 and coming up to the FBS in 1996, the Knights have shown that they are no Mickey Mouse operation.
Gainesville and Orlando are 111 miles apart and roughly two hours from each other on the Turnpike, so honestly, there is no excuse why UCF and Florida have never played, except for the simple conclusion is that UF feels they don’t need UCF and don’t see the need to face them.
Stricklin and the Florida athletic board need to rethink this short-sighted and arrogant mindset and come together on a simple solution; a 1-1-1 series. One game in Gainesville, one in Orlando (with the option of Camping World as a fallback) and the third game at a neutral site, (Jacksonville or Tampa)
While Florida can now say that they’ve offered a 2-1, that’s a very disingenuous hollow offer that reeks of heavy-handed SEC smugness that favors the Gators.
If Stricklin is about the best interests of Florida and the Gator football program, then a 1-1-1 proposal, plus a future annual series would be in the best interests of both, as in all things ironic, Florida needs UCF and their rising brand more than they care to admit.