Life as a UCF Fan
It was nice to have a little BYE weekend to catch up on life. Can’t believe how fast this season is revealing itself. Already coming up on Week 8 and certain teams are locked in for their postseason aspirations.
My parents have recently retired and my sisters and I have made a plan that in lieu of Christmas and birthday gifts, we’d do some home renovations for our folks and make some spaces that my nephew and niece could enjoy when they are over. My BYE was spent scouring over boxes from our youth. Little musty cardboard time capsules filled with Old Nintendo 64 games, Chappelle’s Show Seasons 1&2 on DVD (remember those) and general junk you collect over your adolescence. My favorite things to go through were my old notebooks from high school. Early 2000’s scribbles that with just reading a few sentences put me in a time where ignorance was bliss. No bills, no client demands, no retirement planning, just the day in front of me and what outfit I was going to wear. I went through and found one of my old German workbooks from freshman year. I remember I tried to finagle myself into an easy period and take Spanish for my language requirement. My dad, who taught at my high school foiled that plan for me when he boasted that his kids were fluent in Spanish to his colleague, who turned out to be my dean freshman year. I flipped a page and in bold letters, I had written ‘Schadenfreude”. One of the first Deutsch words I learned which piqued my interest that first semester. Leave it to the Germans to create such a perfect word that has no direct translation in any other language, but perfectly encapsulates a feeling we all secretly enjoy.
Schadenfreude the experience of pleasure, joy, or self-satisfaction that comes from learning of or witnessing the troubles, failures, or humiliation of another.
I’d be lying to you if I didn’t enjoy every second of Miami’s meltdown in a late fourth-quarter fumble a couple of Saturdays ago. Matt Lee crying on the sideline was therapeutic, especially after getting shellacked by Kansas, a basketball blue blood on the football gridiron hours before. It’s irrational and silly. That’s part of sports fandom.
The cows getting rocked by Trent Dilfer in Birmingham to follow it up with a throttling at home at the hands of the FAU Owls on Homecoming this past weekend was delicious too. They got 64-12’d at home. The despair on the timeline was fantastic. Misery loves company, even if it’s at a different depth.
Hell, I enjoyed seeing Dillon Gabriel roll to a 6-7 season last year at Oklahoma. It’s great to see people you think have wronged you falter especially through the lens of sports. The very odd part of the human condition. The flipside of that though is when the down luck is on you. Believe that people are reveling in what looks to be our first four-game skid since 2015. Hunting’s not so fun when the rabbit has the gun.
Always loved prose and that first year of high school my English class had an entire portion dedicated to Greek mythology. Perused that old notebook and another word I saw written spoke to me as well.
Hubris excessive pride or self-confidence; arrogance.
Let’s not make any bones about it. This is a proud fanbase. At times, maybe to a detriment. The entire offseason was fueled with “What if we just roll in there and dominate?” I’m guilty of it myself. We’ve done it before the last couple of times we moved up in weight class. I think we’re now starting to realize we didn’t necessarily up our class, but rather maybe started training at a different dojo the last 20 years. MAC > C-USA > AAC. It’s a different type of animal every week in power conference football. They have dudes too.
Maybe the thrill of the chase is better than the destination. Now that we’ve gotten here, we feel kind of flat. The ‘Do or Die’ of G5 life every week has now been washed into a ‘Wait and See’ build mode. At least the TV checks cleared right? Silly us thinking we’ve been building the depth needed to perform at this level consistently. Sometimes you get a cold dose of reality and sometimes that gut check is the right medicine. It sucks, but I think we’ll be better for it. I hope we’re better for it. We need to be better for it.
Some days you’re John Wayne and other days you’re John Doe. This weekend on the Oklahoma plains, just be ready to land DOA. If you don’t think Jeff Lebby and Dillon Gabriel have a dozen scripted plays to embarrass this outfit, you’re kidding yourself. The sock is on the other foot now. Long gone are the days of the “non-clutch” merch peddling Hawaiian southpaw in East Orlando. He’s turned himself into a bona fide Heisman hopeful. Dillon had his John Wayne moment in the Red River Shootout with an iconic last-minute drive to put his Sooners over a team that blanked them the year before. He bet on himself, and WON. I found myself being very happy for him. Bittersweet, yes, but I don’t think there’s any denying that he’s a special talent. We all saw his brilliance flash during his tenure here.
I learned a new word this week.
Freudenfreude the lovely enjoyment of another person’s success.
Get used to that in the era of the transfer portal too. For every Lee Hunter and RJ Harvey pop we can lose great talent too. The influx goes both ways and we’re feeling that. Matt Lee is the PFF-graded #1 center in all college football. Tatum Bethune is making a huge impact on a national title-contending Seminoles team after following his position coach. Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste has Ole Miss at 5-1. Our old QB room is realizing success from the hills of Fresno to the suburbs of Chestnut Hill. Name a building on campus after John Walker NOW.
If winning was easy, everyone would do it. Sometimes the work is the work, and you just have to do it. Did we expect the new kids on the block to just push over the Big 12 establishment that easily? Did we expect…Houston to get the first Legacy 8 conference win?! The growing pains are here. We’ve done it in spurts before. But what we’re building now is for the marathon, not the sprint. We’re locked in for the next half-decade. Let’s dig deep and put in an effort we can be proud of, shed this John Doe moniker, and create an identity for ourselves this weekend. Something we can build on for the back half of our season and springboard us into 2024.
Every passing moment is the first minute of the rest of our lives and story. Let’s write it.
Even more paramount, make sure to check on your neighbors from every creed, color, and background. We’re all out here as one human family trying to figure this shit out. And we will.
Pray for the world.
‘Til next time, be kind to one another and much love; always.