24 things for 2024

by | Jan 10, 2024 | 0 comments

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Knight fans, let’s make 2024 great

It’s a new year Knight Nation, full of hope, promise, and excitement. It is also a time for reflection and perspective, with an eye towards being our best self for the next 12 months. As Knight fans, we have much to be grateful for, all things considered. But, if you are looking for some things that might need attention in 2024, we’ve got you covered. Here are 24 things to think about in 2024, in no particular order:

1) Bring back the blacktop basketball court

Let’s face it, UCF basketball isn’t going to have too much to celebrate this year on the court, so we might as well celebrate THE court. Think about it, UCF can establish something unique and different about playing at AdFi arena. The Knights don’t have the history and prestige that some of their Big XII peers do, but they can at least do something to create an identity. What the blue turf did for Boise State, maybe the blacktop can do for UCF:

But, if we are gonna do this, we need to go all in, NBA IST style:

2) Support the Varsity Knights

NIL has become a major part of college athletics, and it doesn’t look like that will change anytime soon. It’s been made abundantly clear that to compete, programs need to have the financial resources to attract the right level of talent. As a fan, this has stretched wallets and bank accounts in ways that one probably never imagined. And while it is important to look ahead towards the future, fans shouldn’t forget about the past. For UCF, that means supporting the Varsity Knights program. Let’s not forget the men and women that built the athletic program to where it is today

3) “Fans wear” events need to stop

In theory, this is a really good idea, and when done correctly, it makes a great impression. However, the Bounce House crowd just hasn’t adopted this concept with any level of regularity. That isn’t a knock on anybody, it just doesn’t work. So, scrap it for now and maybe bring it back in a few years. Or, save it for a big game or special occasion, like a night game or a nationally televised game. Either way, an every game menu of clothing just isn’t the thing right now:

4) Support UCF alum Rich Wallace

After six uneven seasons under Greg Lovelady, UCF made a change within the baseball program by hiring former Knight player Rich Wallace as head coach. If you watched his introductory press conference, it was hard not to have some feels:

Wallace takes over a program that hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 2017, which is also the last time UCF won the regular season conference title. It would be great to welcome Wallace home by packing The John each weekend to support a new era in UCF Baseball

5) Use the Tight End more on offense

While it is true that UCF has dynamic playmakers all over the field on offense, there is still a ton of value in a productive tight end. Luckily for UCF, they have some young and talented options to choose from in that tight end room – specifically Sophomore Randy Pittman, Jr and incoming Freshman Kylan Fox. In his first season in Orlando, Pittman showed flashes of his ability by catching 19 balls for 215 yards and 1 touchdown. Meanwhile, Fox is a specimen of an athlete at 6’4″ and 215 pounds. Imagine what a one-two punch of Pittman and Fox could bring to compliment RJ Harvey, Kobe Hudson, and new quarterback KJ Jefferson

6) We need a throwback jersey

UCF has arguably been one of the most creative brands in all of college football, so it is shocking that they have not yet found a way to introduce a true throwback jersey to the mix. Seriously, how cool would any of these options look:

UCF and Nike recently agreed to a long term extension of their partnership, so let’s hold out hope that some new, and old, options will be explored

7) Somebody in the UCF world needs to do a Manningcast

The Big XII introduced FS1 and FS2 into the lives of UCF fans, and results were not exactly smashing:

This doesn’t even mention the fact that the announcers were not actually at the stadium, or that a NASCAR truck series race ran into the broadcast start time. Many fans have been using the old “sync the radio call to the TV” trick for many years now to avoid announcer nonsense, but I think it is time for UCF to again try something different: a Manningcast style broadcast. If you aren’t familiar with the Manningcast concept, you can find more here. I will acknowledge on the front end that there is some red-tape that might make this impossible (such as that whole pesky broadcast rights thing), but how cool would it be to have some former UCF greats sitting around shooting the breeze during the game? Blake and KZ talking ball? Shaquem and Brandon Marshall choppin it up? Too bad this will probably never happen

8) Just play Rocketman and call it a day

10 years ago if you told me I would one day google the words Frankie Valli and UCF together, I would have had you Baker Act. However, somehow this turned into one of the most polarizing topics of the 2023 season. UCF smartly realized they had a financial opportunity and seized the moment, letting fans decide with their wallets. While close, Frankie was shown the door:

With that now settled, UCF should lean even further into the Space theme and play Rocketman by Elton John. It has some fun sing-a-long parts that fans can embrace without the embarrassment of trying to figure out why the hell they are signing it in the first place. Feels like a win-win

9) Always wear your UCF gear in the airport

You know the scene, slogging your way through a crowded airport hoping your flight is on time and that your carry-on bag will fit on the plane, only to get to the gate and see a delay message on the board and no place to sit. As you wander aimlessly looking for answers while enjoying the unmistakable stench of Auntie Annie’s, off in the horizon you see a familiar logo, a perfectly gold and black three letter stack. You become fast friends, and the inconvenient delay passes quickly. Life is funny, you never know who you will meet, both friend and foe, and there is no better place to represent the brand than at the human incubator that is the airport

10) Don’t tag players on social media

This one shouldn’t have to be said, which of course means it needs to be said. Honestly, what good comes from telling a player on the team that they played terrible? Do you really think the starting WR is going to hold onto the ball because @UrUCFMama5431 on twitter is mad at him? It seems illogical. Don’t get me wrong, as a fan you are allowed to be frustrated if your team doesn’t play well, but text your buddy and yell at him, Or, if you must, fire off that incredibly witty and insightful tweet without tagging the player

11) Expand the Plex

This one is a hat tip to the great Eric Lopez, the longtime voice of UCF Softball. Over the past three seasons, UCF Softball has won more than 40 games and made a post-season appearance each year, a measure of success that hasn’t been matched by many other UCF sports programs (outside of Volleyball perhaps). Despite this success, the UCF Softball Stadium only seats 600 people and features a “compact” press box. For contrast, new conference mate BYU has a 2,100 seat facility. The lack of seating and amenities previously hindered UCF from hosting a regional tournament until 2022, coincidentally the same year they advanced to the super regional. With UCF now in the Big XII, seating capacity will likely be an issue again, particularly with the Knights scheduled to host games against Texas and three time defending NCAA champion Oklahoma. It’s time to give the Plex a much needed facelift, one to match the success the Knights have had on the diamond

12) Don’t get hung up on where transfers played

The transfer portal has essentially created free agency in college sports with roster overhauls the new norm. Fans now hang on every tweet or social media post waiting to hear good news on new additions. One challenge in this new model though is figuring out if the new player who will wear your school colors is actually good. The flaw that many use today: what school did he/she play for? In many cases, the assumption is that the better the school, the better the player. With homage to a legend:

If you need any evidence of this, just take a look at some of the recent UCF defensive transfers. In the past two seasons UCF has had four linebacker transfers: one from Georgia, one from Washington, one from Savannah State, and one from Eastern Illinois. You can google on your own to figure out which ones performed better. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it serves as a reminder not to get hung up on the color jersey the player used to wear, but yet focus on how that player fits into what your team does

13) It’s OK not to respond “Charge On”

It has happened to all of us, it’s just that some people are willing to admit it. You’re out and about (maybe at the airport, eh) and from a distance you hear somebody shout to you “Go Knights”. Disoriented, you respond back “yeah, Go Knights”. We’re here to tell you, feel no shame in this moment. While firing back with a crisp “Charge On” would have been great brand symmetry, it isn’t always a natural reaction. As long as you respond with an in-kind Go Knights, your participation is still appreciated and valid

14) Don’t tell people how to be a fan

Sit or stand. Donate or not. Season ticket holder or couch watcher. If you wear black and gold and cheer for UCF, it should not matter. Nothing is worse than one fan assuming they are better than any other fan. We go to verbal battle every day on social media with other fan bases, must we battle each other too? Here is the beauty of sports, you get to fan in the way that is best for you. Full stop. There are exceptions to this of course, and if you are going to be an idiot and try to hide behind the cloak of fandom, you are doing it wrong. Pour your energy into the Knights as much as you can, but don’t put down others who might do it differently than you

15) Respect the UCF content creators

Ok, this one is probably a bit self serving, but UCF is fortunate to have so many people who are trying to provide coverage and content for our Knights. It is not easy to find time week in and week out to produce some form of content relative to UCF, but between all of the independent creators out there, a UCF fan literally has the ability to consume UCF coverage 7 days a week. The OG is Brandon Helwig of UCFSports.com, but you can also enjoy the Pegasus Podcast with Christian and Bailey, the Space Knights trio, Knights 247 with Stephen Leonard, Matt Murschel with the Orlando Sentinel, Eric Lopez and the Black & Gold Banneret guys, UCF Sidelines, the One Knight Stand podcast, and of course, the Sons of UCF. For most of these creators, UCF coverage is a hobby or a part-time gig, a labor of love if you will. While you probably won’t align with everything written or said, be mindful of how far the coverage for UCF has come over the past 5 season. This is truly the golden era, and we are appreciative and respectful of everybody putting in effort to make something positive for UCF

16) Nike and UCF need to step it up

First it was the contract type. Then it was supply chain issues. Then it was the length of the contract. We’ve heard it all around here lately when it comes to UCF and Nike merchandise. Heck, at one point we even had our AD tell us that we should buy generic Nike shirts and put the UCF logo on ourselves (I think he was kidding?). As we enter year two of the Big XII, and with a long term contract with Nike now signed, the excuses need to stop. We saw some improvement in 2023, but having different versions and variety of merchandise needs to be the norm in this upcoming season. I’m talking script Knight polos, olympic sport jerseys, and heck, maybe even a UCF branded shoe? Imagine the possibilities.

17) Alumni watch parties need to be more consistent

One of the main talking points when highlighting the future of UCF is the size of the alumni base. Stands to reason that with a large number of alumni, there should be a pretty decent dispersement of Knights fans across the country. To support this, individual city alumni chapters needs to be an expectation, particularly in major metro areas. Some areas do a great job of gathering the alumni and watching games together, but not everywhere. It would be great if in 2024 social media is flooded with pictures of people gathering all across the country enjoying the Knights.

18) Build a ring of honor

Staying with the theme of honoring the past, it would be great for UCF to install an official ring of honor at the respective sports venues. Football has some banners hanging on the inner concourse, and some signage in the stadium, but much like professional teams do, a formal ring of honor program would be tremendous. A former player coming back home and seeing their name enshrined on the playing field where they once excelled would be a great experience. And, this shouldn’t be limited to just football: basketball, volleyball, softball, baseball, and soccer should also participate. Admittedly this might tricky in the coming years with the transfer portal and all, but that makes this honor all the more special for those chosen

19) Travel to Gainesville

This one probably doesn’t need to be on here, but just in case, read on. The Knights travel to the swamps of Gainesville on October 5th, 2024, the first trip up I-75 since 2006. It is much more than a game though, in the fertile recruiting ground of Florida, it is an opportunity to make a statement. Well, another statement after that 2021 Gasparilla Bowl win. So, if you are able, get your tailgate group together and invade Gator country. Show out and be loud so that everybody knows that UCF is here, and they aren’t going away. Cheer the Knights on and be ready to celebrate at the end, but not just for the win, for the message that will have been sent

20) Admit that Pewter wasn’t that bad

Yes, another uniform themed item on this list, this time, it’s about Pewter. As part of the re-brand a few years back, AD Terry Mohajir was vocal about UCF wearing their traditional colors, black and gold. It makes sense from a brand standpoint, but it also takes away some of the unique uniform options that the Knights enjoyed in the past. I mean, who didn’t like this look:

So good… and it gives UCF something different that they can use to sell merch and potentially attract recruits. While I realize that picking a school based on uniform color probably isn’t widespread, kids want to wear cool stuff, and having different options allows for some creativity. If UCF really wants to be the future of college football, they can start by thinking outside the box and doing something unique and fun. Lastly, to the point of brand identity, it should also be noted that UCF has gone out of their way to paint and decorate much of the athletics village in… you guessed it… a very Pewter-ish looking color

21) Re-think the student ticket process

In one of the many “controversies” UCF had in 2023, perhaps none struck a consistent nerve as much as student attendance. In case you need a refresher:

There are several different issues at play, first, the fact that UCF features student sections in each end zone. While in theory a great idea, it seemed fairly common in 2023 to see the North end zone look less than full, particularly in the second half. Another challenge is the ticket process, requiring students to stand in line about 2 hours before the game to claim a ticket and be admitted to the stadium, where they again have to sit for another hour before kickoff. Waiting isn’t the issue, but the heat and other weather elements makes it a precarious scenario, especially if the students were enjoying a cold beverage or six. Lastly, getting the students in the stadium is one thing, but how do you keep them there? Attendance seemed to decline sharply after half-time, causing a perceived drop in the loud home field advantage. There is no easy solution here, but it’s clear something has to give. Current UCF student Clay Pasco joined us on a recent episode of Sons LIVE to share some ideas and perspective, and UCF might be wise to give it a listen

22) Support the businesses that support UCF

UCF is fortunate to have some local businesses that consistently support the athletics department with donations and sponsorships. The Sons of UCF is lucky enough to work with a bunch of them, including Diriga Staffing, Urban Nooks, and Bolay. There are more of course, including Huey Magoo’s, First Watch, 3MG Roofing, and Knights Out Pub to name a few. No matter what, it’s a good bet that you’ll find a UCF connection that can get you what you need and want. However, business is a bottom line concept, so the best way fans can help is by supporting the businesses that support UCF. Let them know that you value their support and their product, and that you are a proud Knight. There is nothing better than Knights helping Knights

23) Stop feeling the need to defend the National Championship

I will make a personal guarantee that in the next 12 months, some team out there will lose a close game in a controversial fashion and a witty twitter user will fire off a “pull a UCF and claim a championship joke”. You can almost set your watch to it. For perspective, this is now a 6 year old joke. If this were a real human, the joke would be enrolled in Kindergarten. For UCF fans, it is time to stop engaging the people who feel this way about the 2017 team. If you bleed black and gold, the National Championship is probably something you support, which should be good enough for you. Now, don’t get me wrong, disrespect and ignorance from social media idiots does need to be checked, but the need to defend something that is a literal fact, is beneath us at this point

24) Remember why you fell in love with UCF

One thing is for certain, over the next 12 months UCF fans will experience ups and downs, highs and low, hope and despair. This is the cycle for somebody who is an ardent supporter of any sports team. When these times hit though, try to remember what brought you to love this University in the first place. UCF is different, as you know, because they aren’t 100 years of t-shirt fans who cheer just because. If you wear a UCF shirt, it is because this place means something to you, something personal. Likely you went to school at UCF, or a family member did, or a close friend does, or maybe you have a bond with the community from living in the area, or maybe you attended a game and got hooked. Whatever the reason, keep that close to your mind and your heart in 2024. Use that to calm your anger, soothe your sadness, or keep you motivated through any trials and tribulations. As a Knight fan, we are all in this together, and it has been an incredible ride. So buckle up, because 2024 is about to be something to experience… together

About Adam
Adam is one of the founding members of the Sons of UCF having started the original podcast in 2018. Since then, Adam has worked with some talented folks to create more UCF content through podcasts, YouTube videos, and the Sons of UCF LIVE. A two time alumnus, Adam enjoys talking all things UCF whenever possible. Follow Adam @SonsofUCF on most social channels, or email SonsofUCFpodcast@gmail.com

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