ORLANDO - When UCF Football began in 1979 as a Division III program, few looked at the football team as one that would eventually gain FBS status and play big-time college football. Even now, it seems that most program’s fans, as well as some in the media, hold less respect than the Knights truly deserve.
Whether it’s the 2017 undefeated season that UCF self-proclaimed a national championship and took scrutiny because of it, or the status as a Group of Five school that does not play a big-time schedule, UCF Football heard different forms of disrespect over the years.
The truth is what one makes of it. It’s subjective, afterall.
No matter how one feels about the past situations, and there are many others as well, there are two points that fans from other teams cannot take away from UCF Football. This is where the argument starts to turn.
UCF is indeed headed to the Big XII, and the ensuing opportunities for UCF Head Coach Gus Malzahn and his staff to recruit and sign top-notch prospects will improve even further than it already did. Recruiting provides the talent for a program, and there will be other areas impacted by the Big XII affiliation that allows recruiting to prosper.
With the extreme level of amplified revenue that will be coming to UCF by being a part of a Power Five conference, the Knights will now be able to brand themselves much differently with almost every circumstance.
Advanced revenue streams coming from more high-profile televised games leads to better facilities, and better facilities leads to better recruits. This easy to follow pattern will provide UCF with a path of opportunities because of the revenue that’s about to come to UCF each year.
According to the Associated Press in May of 2021, the ten members of the Big XII split 345 million dollars in football revenue for 2021. With 34.5 million per Big XII football program, Big XII members possessed the financial ability to do things many Group of Five programs like UCF probably could not.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the AAC paid out 5.359 million dollars per school. The difference between where UCF stands financially now and where the Big XII Conference will elevate the program financially, certainly changes the Football program's trajectory.
That’s more money to go out and build fantastic facilities, keep good coaches at UCF, and continue to move the program forward with better and better recruiting. The last point of which is the second part that no fan base can debate or take away from UCF Football.
This is Florida, the most talent-rich NFL state in the country. The Knights are recruiting the best players now and finally gaining some traction as compared to 20 or 10 years ago. Imagine what UCF will do once it officially joins the Big XII Conference.
It’s going to be so much easier for Coach Malzahn to walk into a living room and speak with a recruit and his family. Power Five status helps immensely when attempting to close the recruitment for a top prospect.
So, back to the discussion about UCF and respect. No matter if you are a former player, just a local fan in Orlando or a double alumnus, UCF Football is going no place but up!
From Division III in 1979 to UCF Athletic Director Terry Mojajir accepting an offer from the Big XII in 2021, the UCF Football program is a great story. It’s only going to continue to get better from here as well. That also means a different opinion of the UCF Football program for many people and it's long overdue.