ORLANDO, Fla. — For those UCF bashers out there in the national media who believe UCF should change its football-scheduling philosophy, this just in:
For the first time in school history, the Knights have sold out their entire allotment of some 28,000 season tickets for the 2019 football season. And, believe it or not, they did it without having to schedule inequitable 2-for-1 series with Alabama, Clemson, Florida and Ohio State (not that any of those schools have officially offered to play UCF in a 2-for-1 series).
It still amazes me that there are some in the national media who continue to rip UCF when the Knights are seemingly doing everything right. In a day and age when many schools in the Power 5 can’t give away their season tickets, UCF has sold out its allotment, boasts more season-ticket holders than FSU and has created a formal waiting list. And in these changing times when many schools in the Power Five are talking about decreasing the size of their stadiums, UCF is talking about expanding Spectrum Stadium. And in an uncertain era when its getting harder and harder for college football programs across the country to raise money, UCF’s booster donations are at an all-time high and are four times higher than they were three years ago.
Hey, Power 5 conference commissioners, are you paying attention? Just a suggestion: Perhaps you should consider expanding and adding the most upwardly mobile program in all of college football.
“The fact that our season-ticket allotment is gone before the start of a season is a first for UCF, and it absolutely speaks to both the success of the football program and how our alumni and community have embraced Orlando’s Hometown Team,” UCF athletics director Danny White said in a statement. “We’re confident that capacity crowds will become routine at Spectrum Stadium, and that suggests we need to be forward-thinking in terms of assessing what the options are to expand. The topic of expansion isn’t new, but we feel some urgency to figure this out because of the growing demand in the community and, most importantly, with our students. We unfortunately had to turn away thousands of students at the majority of our games last year and we expect that number to grow this season. A 12,000-seat student section is just not big enough for the largest undergraduate enrollment in America.”
White, of course, has been criticized by some Power 5 elitists who ignorantly claim that if UCF wants to be considered for the four-team College Football Playoff then the Knights essentially need to forget about their home schedule, ignore season-ticket holders and agree to go on the road and play the powerhouses of college football. One talk radio host said last week that UCF could easily make the the playoff if the Knights simply scheduled Ohio State, LSU and USC on the road in the same season (as if that would even be logistically possible or financially feasible).
This is the sort of foolhardy criticism White and UCF has had to endure. First of all, it’s not like these powerhouses are standing in line to schedule UCF and, secondly, White says, UCF has no chance of making the playoffs anyway.
“We could schedule the San Francisco 49ers, the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears and they’re still not going to put us in a four-team playoff,” White told me on my Open Mike radio show. “We’re realists about that, and that’s why we’ve been pushing for an adequate postseason with an eight-team playoff. … I’m not going to waste any time trying to schedule for a four-team playoff because it’s not really a playoff, it’s a (Power 5) invitational. A four-team playoff is not an adequate postseason.
“We’re not interested in listening to people’s (cockamamie: my word, not his) ideas on how we can get into a four-team playoff. There are a lot of people who had ideas after our first undefeated season and said that if we just did it again then we’d be in the playoff. We weren’t even considered after going undefeated for a second consecutive year.
“I think our schedule works great for an eight-team playoff, which is where it needs to go, and I think our schedule works great for building a football program where we play in meaningful games, hopefully on New Year’s Day, at the end of the season. “
However, White admits if there was an actual realistic path for UCF to get into a four-team playoff instead of the current arbitrary, exclusionary system that has no real strength-of-schedule formula then he would consider changing his scheduling philosophy.
“There’s no question, we would,” White said. “We have 16 sports at UCF — 15 of them, and every other sport in America, has an equitable postseason. We schedule very aggressively in men’s basketball, women’s basketball, our soccer program and all of our other Olympic sports. In those sports, the RPI matters, the metrics matter and you get rewarded for scheduling aggressively. This past year, we had eight sports — the most in school history — that made the NCAA Tournament. A lot of that is because we schedule aggressively. But in football, it doesn’t matter and we can’t get anybody to play us.”
Personally, I believe there are some in the national media who are finally starting to get the message and recognize and realize that UCF — a program that rose from the ashes of 0-12 — should be celebrated and not castigated.
As long as the Knights continue to win games and raise money and fill up their stadium at record rates, it’s going to reach a point where the only thing more difficult than finding fault in UCF’s scheduling philosophy is trying to get your hands on a UCF season ticket.
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