ORLANDO, FL — In front of national audience with an estimated 25,000 in attendance on campus, the 11th-ranked University of Central Florida formally announced their arrival on ESPN GameDay.
For over two years, Central Florida–or UCF–has turned college football on its proverbial rear in winning 22 straight games. In doing the unthinkable–and in typical UCF style–bold move in crowning themselves national champions, following a 34-27 Peach Bowl win over Auburn to finish their 2017 season at 13-0, many mocked the Knights as a overrated and annoying non-Power Five program looking for attention.
Guess what? It worked.
Many hate and criticize UCF athletic director, Danny White as a glorified carnival barker and showman in touting UCF around every opportunity he gets. Many hate UCF for their schedule and not beating the teams in front of them and choose to nitpick their strength of schedule (SOS), lack of quality opponents and the fact they play in the American Athletic Conference.
Well guess what? Deal with it!
The reality is that UCF owns the third longest win streak in recent college football history at 22, has started the conversation of expanding the politically and money-driven College Football Playoff and managed to get College GameDay to come to their city.
Those choosing to call out UCF are scared of the reality that their team may actually lose to the Knights on a neutral field–and like the CFP selection committee, are quietly praying that that happens.
Being from Cleveland, I know what it’s like to have a chip on my shoulder and to always be overlooked and underestimated, which is probably why I’ve adopted UCF as my second favorite team after Ohio State.
But to say that the atmosphere down at Memory Mall, with a mob of screaming and cheering fans amidst all the pomp and circumstance of ESPN and being live on national television is an even bigger win for a program that is truly on the rise and is gaining more fans and support outside of their sunny vista of Orlando.
You have to really see UCF in person and be amidst the crowd and talk to to them to understand the collective level of disrespect and motivation that many who follow the Knights feel.
In talking to some of the UCF fans at Memory Mall, the biggest takeaway I got from them was the feeling of being overlooked and not being seen as legitimate.
That, and their collective and mutual disdain for GameDay host-and former Buckeye QB–Kirk Herbstreit.
Many mock their so-called “national championship” but didn’t Alabama–who drew a LOT of boos from the crowd when they flashed the image of Satan–Nick Saban–claimed six Nation titles from back in the 20’s and 30’s?
What about Notre Dame? For those who try to point out that Central Florida plays in the AAC, please remind me as to which conference the Fighting Irish play in again?
Perhaps Bristol was feeling the tremors of disrespect and the growing legend of UCF as their reason to finally come down to The City Beautiful, but seeing the sight of Lake Mary resident Lee Corso unveiled in the golden armor of Knightro in announcing his pick was truly a sight to witness.
Love them for being the disrespected underdog that they have become or hate them for being the nouveau and annoying Team to hate, but UCF has arrived and is here to stay.