Every college football fan base provides those specific fans within the fan base that just act obnoxiously. Literally, every fan base. There’s no way around it. With the amount of exposure through traditional media like television and radio, plus various types of social media such as Facebook and Twitter, the number of ways college football fans collide seemingly grows by the day. At the recent Southeastern Conference (SEC) media day, there were some random shots taken as well, and it was not from one SEC school towards another SEC school.
That quote comes from a Florida Gators player, Zach Carter, talking about the opportunity for UCF to be on the Florida schedule. Nothing like a little smack talk even if it’s not anything to do with the SEC.
He’s a starting defensive end for the Gators that’s no stranger to controversy. During the 2020 season, amidst the brawl with Missouri, Carter was involved in the melee and subsequently suspended for the first half of the next game versus arch-rival Georgia.
Carter’s actions against Missouri players certainly outweighed the mere words he tossed out during the July 19th media event. Those words were also mild considering the message board chatter between UF and UCF fans, some of which quite frankly cannot be quoted in this article or any other traditional media outlet’s article because of the vulgarity involved.
So why the disdain between two schools? It’s a budding feud based upon two different issues.
You’re Not in the Power Five
The old adage of “We are the big guy and you’re not” comes into play between the two fan bases. Having researched this topic for many years amongst several different college football rivals, this type of rivalry and smack talk usually ends up staying about the same no matter the outcome of a game between the two schools.
There’s an arrogance factor because of Florida’s tradition, at least for some Florida fans. Yes, some Gator fans simply find any non-SEC school to not really be worth discussing, and that goes as far as some Florida fans thinking teams ranked in the national top 10 are not worthy of the SEC (not kidding). It’s more stupidity than arrogance, honestly.
That stated, a program not playing a Power Five conference like UCF being in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) adds an additional level of arrogance for specific fans that route for the Gators. It is what it is.
Take it with a grain of salt. If nothing else, it’s funny to some people how ignorant specific fans can be from the Gators fan base or any other traditional college football fan base. There’s honestly no reason for UCF fans to be surprised about how specific Florida fans act.
Take it from someone that’s traveled to numerous college football stadiums and held conversations with fan bases from across the United States. If UCF played a series with South Carolina, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio State or any other Power Five program, there would be some commentary about UCF being a non-Power Five program and how it does not belong with "The big boys." That much is a lock. There is also the added aspect of an in-state series about to be played between Florida and UCF.
Inside the State Lines
Depending on the route one takes, if a person leaves Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on the campus of the University of Florida and heads south towards Orlando to a final destination of the Bounce House on the campus of the University of Central Florida, it’s 128 miles, depending on the route one takes. That’s not really that far apart. It’s also only a minor aspect of the in-state battle, especially between fans that interact daily.
Whether it’s an internet message board, a bar with two drunken fools talking smack about their favorite college football programs, or CEO’s of a bank or mortgage company, there are bound to be fans from both schools talking smack to each other all over the state of Florida. This is a massive state and Florida and UCF are massive schools. Florida’s enrollment is over 50,000 students and UCF’s enrollment is over 70,000 students.
The intersection of the two fan bases is inevitable, and it’s also sometimes, well, comical for anyone that’s watched the two fan bases toss names back and forth via an Internet message board. There are also those in-person challenges between individuals that some of us have been privy to seeing, and those can be comical, or actually end up causing fisticuffs, sad as it may be.
Will the War of Words Lead to a long-Lasting Series and Rivalry?
While a three-game series certainly Helps build a rivalry, a mere three games does not mean the two schools are really rivals. There’s honestly very little way of knowing if the two schools will schedule anymore games after playing the first three contests.
Regardless of the outcome of the three games, there are three prime reasons that college athletic directors schedule games in general: money, money, and money. Yes, that’s a redundant and yet honest answer. “Butts in seats” helps pay the bills for the non-revenue producing sports, and that’s why college football programs want to schedule as many home games as possible. It’s also a deterrent for future games between the Gators and Knights.
While UCF Athletic Director Terry Mohajir is reportedly going to accept the two-for-one series with the Gators relatively soon, playing two games in Gainesville and one in Orlando, there is the literal aspect of wanting home games for UCF. That’s big business in the world of college athletics. Make no mistake college football is a business, like it or not. There is one thing that could help make the series come about, and the onus will be placed on UCF far more than the Gators.
UCF needs to win at least one of the three matchups with Florida. It’s that simple. If UCF defeats the Gators, then there will be facts about UCF being able to compete with the Gators.
Until the series gets underway at the very least, there’s going to be stupidity between Florida and UCF fans on message boards, in bars, and even corporate board rooms. That’s the life of Florida and UCF fans attempting to live together in the state of Florida. Hopefully it turns into a rivalry, but time will tell if a true rivalry comes to fruition by way of future games beging scheduled beyond the alleged three-game series being proposed.