We cringe about writing this for many reasons, but one of them is as soon as UCF Fan reads this list they'll accuse us of being obsessed with them. Allow us to present Exhibit A: which is that we've done everything we can to ignore them during our four years of our existence. We wished this day wouldn't have ever come. But now they're in our league, literally and figuratively. That doesn't mean we like it... or them for that matter.
As a school and a blog, we've had great interactions with fans of many college teams over the years. We've found Louisville fans to be intensely loyal, UConn fans to be bright and funny, and we always loved seeing Marquette people at conference tournaments and before and after games (they really know how to party). I still root for Auburn all other things being equal because of the incredibly classy way we were treated by their fans after we won at Jordan-Hare in '07. And I think as a rule, USF has for the most part played a good host when others have visited us too.
And then there's Oviedo.
This isn't a fun "rivalry" full of witty banter and good spirit. It's downright mean and awful, and I hate that we have to play these games. I think most USF fans would agree with me, or at least the ones that have been there. The trashed parking lot at Ray Jay in '05 (I worked for USF Athletics then and had to get our Rocky mascot some cover due to him being punched and heckled so badly in the parking lot by UCF fans before this game), or their fans keying the car of a friend of mine with a USF license plate at a baseball game, or the things I've been called while walking to and from basketball, soccer, and volleyball games on their campus (and yes, I was just keeping to myself).. I've seen it get ugly.
One thing I hope this edition provides since the other team is the favorite this time: let's hope everyone is at least civil to each other. Celebrate, party, cheer your face off, enjoy it... but don't be a jerk.
Consider this list the Reader's Digest version of what it could be. Believe me, finding the correct sources took a lot longer than thinking of what to write.
- Jay Bergman. Fired for simulating rape with a baseball bat on a team manager. Had previously choked a player. UCF threw him a retirement party. UCF baseball stadium still named after him.
- The Ereck Plancher Case. Wide Receiver Ereck Plancher died at a UCF football practice. A court found UCF liable for his death, and his family was awarded $10 million.
- UCF Appeals It. The UCFAA appealed the ruling saying their athletic department is a state agency, and therefore the damages are statutorily capped at $200,000. Not that they shouldn't be liable, but that they're protected by statute.
- UCF Wins The Appeal. Feel the sympathy in this statement.
- O'Leary Still Hasn't Learned. "There is no question the kids today are softer than kids in the past, in my mind. I think it comes from too much parental babying." Ereck Plancher's family would disagree, George.
They Cheated, Part I: UCF is put on two years' NCAA probation in February 2010 for major violations due to non-staff members making phone calls and sending text messages to football recruits. AD Keith Tribble says "I demand NCAA compliance from our entire organization and we have procedures in place to help prevent this in the future."
- They Cheated, Part II. Just two years later, while still on probation from the previous violations, one of the most comprehensive cheating scandals in collegiate athletics history. The findings of fact included Keith Tribble promising a job to a prospect's mother, and paying the tuition for the friend of a prospect. Head basketball coach Donnie Jones was setting up conference calls with runner Ken Caldwell and prospects.
- The Ken Caldwell Video. Actually this is a reason we love UCF, because it's seriously one of the greatest things to ever hit the internet. While attempting to defend himself, Caldwell admits to multiple NCAA violations on tape. Just watch the whole thing. It's fantastic.
Ken Caldwell : The Truth Part 1 (via Kcald2021)And yet, somehow, amazingly...
- UCF Gets A Slap On The Wrist. "What UCF was accused of was, on its face, one of the worst packages of NCAA violations in recent memory. Not only were both of its revenue sports using a runner (among others) to help recruit athletes and that runner was providing benefits to student-athletes, but all of this was with the knowledge, encouragement, and even active participation of the athletic director." That's from former D1 compliance director John Infante, who now is the internet's leading expert on NCAA rules and regulations. AND THEY STILL APPEALED!!
- UCF Appeals It. To the shock and consternation of basically everyone that follows college athletics.
- UCF Wins The Appeal. Not because they weren't guilty, but because the original report by the Committee on Infractions "was based in significant part on irrelevant factors resulting in an abuse of discretion." They basically didn't get due process because the NCAA enforcement arm sucks, not because they weren't guilty as sin in one of the most clearcut cases of cheating since SMU football. They got off on a technicality. Again.
- Dominate the MAC! UCF head football coach Mike Kruczek says "I think we can be undefeated. I know we can do it in the MAC conference. Our major concern is our out-of-conference opponents." Also, university President John Hitt calls it the "Midwest Conference," and new athletic director Steve Orsini says UCF "hopes to be a member of a major conference within five years." UCF's all-time record as MAC school would be 8-16.
- UCiF. We call them UCiF for a reason: because so much of their history is based on "IF this had only happened" or "we were so close IF we had just done that..." The best encapsulation of this is here: The official website history of UCF Football. Quotes like "UCF puts up a fight, registering four fourth-down stops against the Seminoles before losing 46-14." Or this beauty from 1997: "Although winless in its first three games (a one-point overtime loss at Ole Miss, a two-point loss at South Carolina and a two-touchdown loss at Nebraska, after leading 17-14 at the half) UCF has the national media touting it as the best 0-3 team in the country."
- The Athletic Department Illegally Borrowed Money From The University. So I guess they're a state agency when it's convenient and an independent arm when that's convenient too.
- The Water Fountains. Failing to put water fountains in their football stadium because "we feel the stadium was within the codes that were applicable at that time." The plans were approved in 2001. The stadium was built in 2007. You can't just admit you screwed up??
- Delusions of Grandeur Part I. In 1988, UCF football coach/athletic director Gene McDowell says UCF "would like to join Florida State, Louisville, South Carolina, Memphis State, Southern Mississippi, Cincinnati and Virginia Tech in the Metro Conference in a couple years."
- Yeah... but, um... UCF finished 7-21 in men's basketball in their final year as a Division II school. It was their sixth consecutive losing season at that level.
- University of Cellular Fraud. Gene McDowell is forced to resign for tampering with a federal investigation of a player who was committing cell phone fraud. He tipped off his players to an upcoming raid, lied to investigators, and asked his players to lie to investigators. He would plead guilty, and avoid jail time.
- Oviedo, Land of Internet Trolls. UCF has an internet fan base that seems to rate slightly above Neanderthal. Just check my mentions on Twitter after this publishes and you'll see what I mean, but since we're sourcing everything on this here's some standard issue UCF'ing: This is Matt Grothe talking about UCF fans repeatedly and pointlessly poking him on Facebook in 2007... and this is their message board TODAY. So typical.
- Delusions of Grandeur Part II. July 22, 1994: Talks begin to merge Great Midwest Conference and remnants of Metro Conference, which would ultimately become Conference USA. UCF Athletic Director Steve Sloan denies interest in new league, saying "We are more inclined to be an independent for about five years, and then see if we are attractive to the SEC or ACC."
It would be one more calendar year until UCF is approved to join Division I-A.
- Delusions of Grandeur Part III. August 2nd, 1995. UCF sends letters to SEC, ACC, and Big East outlining their case for membership. They also send letter to Conference USA, despite "originally having no interest in the new conference."
- Delusions of Not Understanding English. April 30th, 2000: UCF launches $40,000 marketing campaign aimed at placing themselves in ACC, Big East, or Conference USA. Orlando Sentinel says UCF's "marketing plan targeting C-USA cites the possible football rivalry between UCF and USF as a selling point." USF continues to make it clear they have no interest in a game against UCF at this time. UCF then launches the legendary website thetimehascomeforucf.com. Website includes statement "the state of Florida is prime for a natural rivalry between UCF and another in-state school." I guess they meant FAU since USF still had no desire to play them, right?
- Their Village Idiot: October 13, 2000: Mike Bianchi writes that USF should play UCF in football. October 22, 2000: Mike Bianchi writes that USF should play UCF in football. May 5, 2001: Mike Bianchi writes that USF should play UCF in football. May 12, 2001: Mike Bianchi writes that USF should play UCF in football. May 19, 2001: Mike Bianchi writes that USF should play UCF in football. May 26, 2001: Mike Bianchi writes that USF should play UCF in football. July 31, 2001: Mike Bianchi writes that USF should play UCF in football.
- They Tried To Make Playing Them The Law: Legislative attempt to force UCF-USF football game fails.
- And When We Finally Concede... January 17, 2012: To address mutual scheduling needs, USF offers to play UCF at Citrus Bowl. UCF declines, saying they need a home game.
Am I bitter? Absolutely, but not at UCF, their team, or even their fans. I'm angry at USF for allowing this to happen. That 27 point spread is an acknowledgement of how far behind the Bulls have allowed their former idiot distant cousin to come. It's a notarized letter showing how we've slipped administratively, and that it will take years to make up the ground we've given to the school none of us ever respected. Look at everything above... you can't stay ahead of THAT??
The irony of UCF/USF FB: UCF is good b/c those in charge weren't held responsible. USF is bad b/c those in charge weren't held responsible— The Doctor (@GregariousMatt) November 27, 2013
So feel free to despise UCF as they're a team very worthy of scorn. But instead of hating them for their recent success... USF needs to think long and hard about what needs to happen to surpass them again.
So on Friday, even when cringing while watching them in full plume, do what USF fans have done for decades and just remember: It's UCF. They'll find a way to screw it up eventually.