There are only so many programs that truly want to schedule the UCF Football program. For whatever the reason, the Knights continuously struggle to bring noteworthy programs to the table in an attempt to place pen to paper and sign contracts. With that said, the long awaited opportunity to play the Gators did come about. Here are the three game dates:
So, what does the impending series mean for the Knights and future scheduling? That’s an important question as it impacts the program’s efforts to join a Power Five conference. Here’s a closer look.
Big XII Opponents Make Sense
With the conference realignment that’s likely to be going on across the country and the obvious big news that Texas and Oklahoma will jump from the Big XII to the SEC, there’s an opportunity for UCF Football to display a desire to join a conference by way of scheduling. The Knights could improve their overall footprint in college football by heading west.
More specifically, playing games within the state of Texas against Texas Christian (TCU), Baylor, and Texas Tech proves that UCF would truly want to be a part of the Big XII. With a simple phone call, or perhaps two or three phone calls, UCF Football could be creating a relationship with future conference members. While it truly is simple, dialing those digits to discuss future scheduling opportunities creates an additional avenue to possibly joining the Big XII.
The other interesting aspect of playing Texas programs would be recruiting. While there’s nothing wrong with playing other Big XII teams that reside outside of Texas, playing like TCU in the greater Dallas area, a city ripe with prep football talent, opens the floodgates to recruiting the Lone Star State.
Bring on the Texas Talent
TCU’s campus would be located in Fort Worth, within the greater Dallas area, Baylor’s campus would be less than two hours south just off I-35 in Waco, and Texas Tech’s campus would be located in the Texas Panhandle in north Texas. Each school presents an opportunity, in their own unique way, for the Knights to recruit more in Texas if they so wish.
Now, before anyone asks or comments, Florida will continue to be the home base for the Knights to recruit. There’s no reason to change that fact. Adding two or three Texas prospects to the roster, similar to what former Florida State Head Coach Bobby Bowden used to do while coaching the Seminoles in the 1990s and early 2000s, or what Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban accomplished during many of the Crimson Tide’s recent recruiting runs, does make sense, however.
Talent is where one finds it. Perhaps the Knights fill a specific need with a cornerback or wide receiver from Texas. If a Texas recruit improves the roster, it’s certainly worth the Knights at least taking a look at that prospect. Keep in mind, current UCF wide receivers Jaylon Robinson and Ryan O’Keefe both played their high school football in Texas.
Robinson played for Fort Worth (Texas) All Saints Episcopal, and O’Keefe signed with UCF after playing for Austin (Texas) Round Rock. The two talented wide receivers accounted for a combined 1,370 yards receiving and nine receiving touchdowns for the Knights last fall.
There’s so much talent in the Lone Star State that Texas, Texas A&M and even Oklahoma will not keep all of it close to home. UCF and many other programs stand a good chance to land talent from Texas. Playing actual games in the state, as well as playing college programs that reside in Texas will positively impact UCF recruiting because recruits will see the Knights play on television, and there will be local media coverage and conversations about the upcoming games.
If you want to listen to further discussion about UCF scheduling the Gators and how it impacts future scheduling and recruiting you can listen here:
There will continue to be several different moving pieces to UCF’s scheduling efforts with conference realignment continuing to develop, especially now that the Gators are on the slate with UCF for three future games. Twists and turns will take place. Regardless of where other programs align themselves with each piece of conference realignment news that comes about, UCF stands to gain better traction with joining a Power Five conference if it attempts to schedule some of those same teams. It also impacts recruiting.
The Lone Star State is loaded with recruits, and grabbing one, two or even three Texas prep prospects would aid the UCF Football program. Those handful of Texas players could be the difference between making the college football playoffs or not making the playoffs.
For an additional perspective and backdrop to the three-game series between UCF and Florida, here’s an article from FanNation All Gators writer Demetrius Harvey, Florida Gators Officially Schedule Three Games Against UCF.