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Public Perception of UCF Football: Winning Matters Before the Knights Join the Big XII

With UCF Football joining the Big XII Conference on July 1, 2023, the Knights need to quiet the critics about the ability to compete at the Power Five level. Here’s how that happens.
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ORLANDO - At the conclusion of the 2022 football season, the Knights will be headed to the Power Five. For years, UCF played really good football but did not earn a bid to the Power Five. Fans of other programs, as well as various media members, took shots at UCF’s Football program. Well, here’s a chance to shut them up.

Before arriving at the highest level of football, there are some areas to improve as well as opportunities to capitalize upon in an effort to sprint into the league instead of walking in, essentially quieting the critics.

This list could go about as far as anyone could imagine because it’s somewhat subjective. With that in mind, two categories are listed below. Before the Knights head to the Big XII to play Power Five Football, this is how the Knights maximize an opportunity for public respect.

Make the Most of Gus Malzahn’s Inaugural Season at UCF

Few personalities within the college football head coaching ranks will make someone feel as comfortable as what UCF Head Coach Gus Malzahn does. In short, if one cannot be comfortable around this man when he walks to the podium for a press conference or simply runs into him in the hallway, that’s on that individual, not Coach Malzahn. He’s great to be around.

Gus Malzahn, Head Coach, UCF Football

Gus Malzahn, Head Coach, UCF Football

With that in mind, he has generated a great deal of positive energy for UCF Football and which in turn helps to promote the Athletic Department overall. Media members enjoy being around him and the articles coming out tend to be favorable. That stated, there’s an opportunity to increase that positive influence.

Members of the media will happily write about UCF and Coach Malzahn, assuming the Knights win. To make that even better, the Knights need to find a way to win 10 or more regular season games in 2021.

Imagine the level of media attention UCF will receive if it makes a New Year’s Day bowl game this year, under Coach Malzahn’s direction. That starts with winning at least 10 of the 12 games from the regular season schedule. Most likely, the Knights would need 11 victories. Hard to say, but 10 wins would be the minimum qualification.

Of course winning that New Year’s Day bowl game would be the icing on the cake. It would undoubtedly come against a Power Five opponent. Winning those types of games will allow UCF to be seen in a more positive light for sure, but perhaps more importantly offer an opportunity to switch over fans and media members that did not believe in UCF to now see the Knights differently. At least one can hope.

Crash the Party

As noted above, the Knights could come screaming into the Big XII by way of winning. Another way of winning would be to capture the American Athletic Conference championship.

If not, fans from other institutions could point to UCF not even winning the AAC, so why can they be good enough for Power Five?

Remember, this is about outside perception, not what UCF fans and alumni believe. There’s a big difference between the two groups.

Whether it will be 2021 or 2022, the Knights need to win the league outright. That’s not only a great football season, but it will quiet critics that UCF cannot compete at the highest level of college football. Winning the league both years would be even better, obviously. To do that, one team stands in the way.

Beating Cincinnati would be needed to accomplish that goal. There’s no question that the Bearcats are the No. 1 team in the AAC as of today. Knock off the top team, earn your league title, and then head to the Big XII.

Final Thoughts

There’s quite a bit to be happy about with UCF Football before heading to the Big XII Conference. Cementing that jump into Power Five status by way of winning big this season and next will help to make the transition much easier.

In the process, it’s going to create a far greater buzz about UCF Football, while also helping to shut up some annoying fans from other schools and members of the media.

For UCF insights, college football news, and recruiting information go to: The Daily Knight podcast. It will be found on iTunes and Spotify. For more UCF and recruiting information, go to Twitter: @fbscout_florida and @UCF_FanNation, as well as my YouTube Channel and Instagram page. Like and Subscribe!

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