Tag Archives: UCF

UCF Football: An Unforgettable 2013

ImageHeading into its final regular-season game this weekend, the 2013 UCF Football team is 10-1 and is going to its first-ever BCS bowl game. Re-read that, and give it a moment to sink in.

UCF has finally hit the big time, and that is why I feel compelled to write my first Weis Words Writing blog in a very long time. It’s a good time to be a Knight fan, especially when you’ve been a fan for over 20 years.

For years, UCF was the proverbial “sleeping giant.” Football experts everywhere would say, “It’s just a matter of time. They’re in the middle of a recruiting hotbed in Florida, they have great facilities and a great campus.”

Dating way back to the days when Daunte Culpepper quarterbacked the then-Golden Knights (we’re now known simply as the Knights) from 1995-1998, UCF would be winning a game against a nationally ranked team – only to find new and creative ways to lose a close game every time – and I mean EVERY time. I won’t go back that far, but let’s just review the last four years.

UCF FOOTBALL 2009

While the Knights finished 8-5, they could not get the job done against teams like Miami and Texas, and were throttled by Rutgers in the St. Petersburg Bowl.

UCF FOOTBALL 2010

The Knights finished the season as Conference USA champions and beat Georgia in the Liberty Bowl, yet UCF fans were left to wonder what might have been due to close losses to NC State and Kansas State.

UCF FOOTBALL 2011

This was a season UCF fans would rather forget, finishing 5-7 and losing to “juggernauts” UAB and Florida International.

UCF FOOTBALL 2012

Wrapping up their final season in Conference USA, the Knights finished 10-4. While they won every game in which they were heavy favorites (including their bowl game against Ball State), they could not win a big one. They were beaten by Ohio State and somehow managed to lose to Missouri despite thoroughly outplaying them. Oh, and they lost two very close games to Tulsa, including the conference championship.

ImageUCF FOOTBALL TODAY

So when 2013 rolled around and UCF joined a new conference (the American Athletic Conference) arguably more difficult than C-USA, most experts and fans figured the Knights would finish above .500, somewhere in the middle of the pack. They’d lost most of their defense, RB Latavius Murray graduated and went to the Oakland Raiders, and the schedule was the most daunting they’d ever faced. There was an away game at Penn State; a home game against South Carolina; an away game against Louisville; and home games against Houston and rival USF.

But something has happened this year. The 2013 UCF Football team is finding new and creative ways to win! The two TDs in the final minutes to beat Memphis; the comeback from a 28-7 deficit to beat Louisville; the best TD catch I’ve ever seen (by JJ Worton) to beat Temple; the last-minute goal-line stand against Houston; and the fourth-quarter Blake Bortles to Breshad Perriman bomb versus USF. Only a three-point loss to South Carolina has kept UCF from an undefeated season. Led by junior quarterback Bortles, a mother lode of talented wide receivers, a young and talented defense, and some timely special teams plays, they’ve been the “cardiac kids” on many an occasion this year.

Next year, the automatic BCS berth goes away for their conference, so they may need to actually run the table to go back to a bowl game of this year’s stature. But the sleeping giant has unquestionably awakened in 2013, and all the credit in the world goes out to coach George O’Leary, his staff, and the players.

There’s plenty of room on the UCF bandwagon. Jump aboard!

Tuesday Weisblog: Reporters get more than they bargained for

hillaryIt probably started out like any other day for White House journalists wanting to interview Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the “G20 Summit” conference call.

They were given the phone number to call in, and much to their surprise they heard the following message: “Well, do you feel like getting nasty? Then you came to the right place – brought to you by the girls of Swank magazine.”

Yep, you guessed it … the White House inadvertently gave out a sex line number rather than the correct one.

This reminds me of what the PR department of my school, the University of Central Florida (UCF) did last season. After a season-opening win, the Knights issued a phone number for Coach George O’Leary’s weekly conference call. Journalists who called this particular number were treated with this message: “Hi sexy. You’ve reached the one-on-one fantasy line.” (Gives all new meaning to the term “Fantasy Football,” doesn’t it!)

What’s the moral of this story? Truth be told, there isn’t one. It’s just downright funny. The only real lesson to be learned is that one missing or incorrect letter/number and it can change the entire meaning of what you’re trying to do!

Monday Weisblog: Putting my thoughts into brackets

ncaa-tourneyYou’ll have to forgive me if I’m just a little bit down in the dumps today.

It’s days like this where I wish I had a corporate office to go to.

Men and women all across the country are preparing for their office basketball pools, where coworkers, friends and coworkers’ friends fill out their “brackets” and predict the winners and losers of the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament. Everyone from CEOs and accountants with pocket protectors to secretaries and office cleaners participate. Heck, some people  who have not watched a single minute of regular-season action can’t resist it.

Let’s face it … most of us are only casual college basketball fans, but suddenly when “March Madness” comes around  the Marquette/Utah State game is a “must watch.”

Marquette/Utah State? Seriously? You bet … because that one counts just as much as North Carolina’s game, Duke’s game and every other more famous team’s game. (Perhaps I should have used a better phrase than “you bet?”)

This year, much like the previous two, I don’t have an office full of coworkers to banter with about whose favoritebracket team is going to win or lose in the first round – or win whole thing. I don’t get to come to work each morning eagerly anticipating the standings that change daily as the games are being played. And as the tournament comes to a close, I don’t get to reap the spoils if I win, or congratulate the champion if it’s not me.

But hey, if you need an update, gimme a call. I’ll be at home watching the games live!

Afterthought: Perhaps someday I’ll get to see my UCF Knights enter the fray. What began as a very promising 15-6 start this season ended with the team suffering injuries, as well as a key player being booted from the squad. Their youth and inexperience (nine freshmen) then caught up with them. As a result, they dropped eight out of their final 10 contests to finish 17-14. Still, the young guys will come back bigger, stronger and more mentally tough having been through such a season.


Friday Weisblog: All’s fair in love, war and recruiting

Today was national signing day for college football, the day that most of the coveted high school football players make their public declarations to their university of choice. At first glance, two players from North Miami Beach High School signing with my school, UCF, doesn’t seem like a big deal to anyone outside the state.

ucf-logoBut in this case, it has ruffled the feathers of both North Miami Beach High coach Jeff Bertani and Western Michigan coach Bill Cubit. Bertani claims that the players were all but signed, sealed and delivered to the Michigan school, when the Knights of UCF came in and scooped them up at the last minute.

“If we’ve got people who are not on the up-and-up … it always works out. The guy I kind of feel bad for is Coach Bertani,” said Cubit.

This is the first time in four years that one of Bertani’s players hasn’t ended up at Western Michigan. This makes me wonder why Bertani is so bent upon sending his players north to a relatively small school well over a thousand miles away. Is there some kind of “arrangement?”

This is an excerpt from last year’s MLive newspaper. Two of Western Michigan’s players who went to North Miami Beach high described why they chose Western Michigan as their college team: wmu-logo1

“Really, he (referring to Bertani) picked the school for me,” (PLAYER A) said. “I took two visits but I really didn’t know where I was going to school until he called me that morning and told me, ‘(PLAYER A), get here. You’re going to sign. This is where you’re going. No if ands or buts.’ And I knew he knew the best situation for me. Coach Bertani’s word is strong. When he says something he means it. And we all abide by it.”

“Before my visit I already knew I was going to come here,” said (PLAYER B), a freshman running back and the youngest of the group. ” … We (Bertani, too) already had in our mind that Western Michigan was a for-sure thing.”

Can you say, “brainwash?” Something stinks, and I think it’s Western Michigan’s recruiting class this year. Mr. Cubit’s recruiting class is rated #86 out of 119 Division I teams, and he’s looking for a scapegoat. As for “Coach” Bertani, one can only venture a guess at his agenda.

These kids should be allowed to change their minds. They are, after all, just that – kids. Besides, coaches are allowed to leave one school for another regularly despite the promises they made to their own recruits – and nothing is ever said about that.

You think this is the first time someone has changed his mind? UCF has lost a couple impact players at the last minute over the last few years (some to a rival school just over an hour down the road, the University of South Florida). Additionally, you can bet the Knights are the subject of all kinds of negative recruiting in the wake of everything that’s happened over the last 12 months (the death of a player during workouts, battles between coach George O’Leary and our local newspaper and its 4-8 record last season after winning Conference USA two years ago).

The only thing that saddens me is that we’re battling with Western Michigan for recruits, and not the big boys like Florida, Florida State and Miami. It is my sincere hope that someday, before I’m taking a dirt nap, I will live to see UCF be very relevant in the world of college football. In the meantime, I’ll keep cheering them on as all good fans should.

One final quick thought: If you live in Central Florida and have not caught a UCF basketball game, you’re missing a fun team to watch. They have a potential NBA’er in senior Jermaine Taylor, not to mention eight energetic and talented freshmen. Plus, Coach Kirk Speraw is widely known among his peers as an excellent tactician. We nearly beat Memphis a couple weeks ago – we were actually ahead at halftime before their depth and experience won the day.

Have a great weekend, everyone … and I promise that next week’s blogs will be more relevant for everyone, not just Central Florida-area football fans. I just got angry today when I heard what these “coaches” were saying about my school. Fortunately, I have the forum to voice my displeasure.

Friday Weisblog: What happens when YOUR team wins? It’s a riot!

The NCAA Football championship game last night got me thinking: Why do fans celebrate their victory – or take their frustrations out due to a loss – by taking to the streets and causing damage to people and/or property? It’s barbaric. It’s senseless. It’s nothing more than a bunch of thugs who are just looking for an excuse to commit crimes.

The following is just a short list of examples. I haven’t listed them all, and I am not picking on any particular city by including the ones I have here. These are here just for the sake of showing you what I’m referring to.

2000 – A Los Angeles street party celebrating the Lakers’ championship series victory over the Indiana Pacers turns violent, requiring hundreds of police officers with riot gear to restore order.

2002 – University of Maryland fans break storefront windows and loot area stores following the Terrapins’ win in the NCAA championship game.

2003 – Boston police are hit with rocks, bottles and objects from paintball guns after the Red Sox lost to the New York Yankees in Major League Baseball’s playoffs.

2004 – Fan Victoria Snelgrove dies after a pepper-spray ball pierced her left eye outside Fenway Park in Boston, in a gathering in which Red Sox fans were celebrating the team’s American League pennant. More violence ensued, and as many as 15 people were injured and eight were arrested.

2008 – Crazed Philadelphia Phillies fans are videotaped looting a luggage store following the Phillies’ World Series victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

All this makes me wonder … what if the Orlando Magic win the NBA Championship or the UCF Knights win the NCAA football or basketball championship? What would happen to my town? All I know is that, while I’m celebrating, I’m not going to go out on the street thinking, Let’s go break something!