UCF is leading a crusade against the college football elite, but none of the people they're supposedly leading seem to know or care. And it's kind of difficult to lead a crusade if no one's following you.
As part of their quest for a seat at the big boy's table, UCF AD Danny White has insisted on only scheduling home-and-home series with Power 5 programs. It's been somewhat successful, as the Knights got North Carolina, Pitt and Louisville to agree to home-and-homes, plus a one-off home game with Stanford on Sept. 14 of this season. The Knights would love to get Florida's Big 3 programs -- Florida, Florida State, Miami -- on their future schedules, but White has been unwilling to bend on his principles, refusing to schedule a 2-for-1 series or to play UCF's home game at Orlando's Citrus Bowl Stadium rather than UCF's on-campus Spectrum Stadium.
“Getting home-and-homes is getting increasingly harder, but we firmly believe that it’s the right move,” White told the Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi. “From an equitable standpoint, I don’t believe our student-athletes should have to take an inequitable series. That’s not fair to them. … We’re scheduling the way we schedule to build our season-ticket base and grow our revenue.”
UCF says this moral stance is for the best not only for them, but for everyone in the American Athletic Conference. How can they call themselves a Power 6 conference if they don't treat themselves like a Power 6 conference, like agreeing to non-conference series where the Power 5 opponent gets more home games than they do?
This is a problem for UCF, because USF is not involved in UCF's game of Chicken?
USF's arch-rival has lined up 2-for-1 series with Florida and Miami; the Bulls will host UF in 2021 while visiting Gainesville in 2022 and '25, and they'll host Miami in 2027, sandwiched between Coral Gables trips in 2025 and '28.
There isn't really a villain in this story. Though the two schools share similar characteristics, UCF and USF's respective football programs live different realities, at least when it comes to non-conference scheduling. UCF plays in a 45,000-seat, on-campus stadium, meaning Florida, FSU and Miami would get 3-4,000 tickets, plus whatever their fans can bum on the open market. USF, however, plays in the Tampa Bay Bucs' Raymond James Stadium, so agreeing to 2-for-1 series with Florid and Miami is a win-win; Gator and 'Cane fans can fill an otherwise half-empty stadium, giving USF needed revenue and their schools a de facto neutral site game.
"We made an offer to play them (UCF) and we made a similar offer to USF, who is in their league," Dan Mullen said.
Florida is acting in its own best interest by scheduling 2-for-1 with USF as opposed to a home-and-home with UCF, just as USF is by scheduling that 2-for-1.
But, still, White and UCF don't like it.
“It’s a precedent I don’t like being set in our conference for schools to start doing a much higher volume of two-for-ones," White said. "As a conference, we’ve been successful historically getting home-and-homes with Power 6 opponents. I’d like to see our conference peers continue to do that as we have done.”
The Knights are leading a crusade, all right, only there's no one behind them. USF rounded them all up, and they're now drinking beer at the nearest pub, laughing at UCF's doomed one-man quest.
Aren't rivalries fun?
Postscript: Rivalries are fun.