UCF needs to turn the tide for Homecoming 2023
Almost got there, Alafaya
Blown opportunities mounting, I just want a winner
Kind of getting old now, but do you still believe?
Youngest of the Power Five, still another blown lead
Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
East Orlando, Space Mountain Malzahn
Take me home, country roads
God that sounded like a Mike Bianchi Orlando Sentinel column intro. It’s my vibe for this week though. There’s been enough angst tweeted about two-point conversion calls or the current state of the program already. I fully expected an embarrassing showing this past Saturday. Past performance is the best indicator of future success. Everything we saw from this team for the month leading up until Saturday screamed “quiet quit” for the remainder of this season. I was impressed with our moxie and our fight until 00:00.
Gabriel spoke classy about our program and I think both institutions walked away with a newfound respect for their places in college football history. Oklahoma is the bluest of blue bloods on the gridiron and we were right there. 50 conference titles, 7 Heisman, playing football since 1895. Thirteen flu-stricken players needed IVs. Morale is seemingly broken. We still went out there and showed a national audience what we’re building. This wasn’t a post season NY6 bowl where we feasted on subpar competition throughout the year and caught a team in January. This was the thick of the season, a game that mattered on the road in an environment some would have thought we’d never be in. This was a CONFERENCE GAME against Oklahoma.
Listen I’m not one for moral victories. I am one for the mindset of extracting the good out of tough situations. I started believing in this game. Had me all the way and I still do believe. We have talent. The most important thing I learned on Saturday was that these boys mentally have not checked out. If your head is not right, you’re of no use to anyone. You have to keep yourself leveled. Conversion call aside let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. A bowl game is within reach and five very winnable games are ahead of us. Keep the bathwater. We have rubber ducks coming later this week.
It’s Homecoming Week in East Orlando! Yes, the noon start time kind of sucks, but what if we’re fully embracing becoming a Big 12 team that thrives at noon kickoff scheduling? Our best game this season was Saturday at 11 AM local time. Something to think about. Maybe the BYE is exactly what we needed. We’ve done a lot of traveling this year and have been on the road ever since our epic meltdown against Baylor. An entire month since we’ve had a chance to show out in front of a home crowd. Let’s show up. Be loud and let’s get this first conference win. What are you gonna do, watch it on FS1? That’s probably the scariest thing you can do this Halloween weekend.
I’m most proud we get to play some East Coast brethren for our first Big 12 Homecoming Game. For as much has been made about conference realignment and getting a seat at the table, no one knows that scramble better than the Mountaineers. Scoffed at by the ivory towers of the ACC, they took one of the last lifeboats out of the dying Big East football faction back in 2012. My time at UCF ran from 2005-2009 and that was a golden age of West Virginia football.
It’s homecoming week, so allow me to reminisce on the joy that was Thursday night Big East football. Thursday nights were often spent pregaming for a half en route to SCOOP, Devaney’s Too, or the OG Library across the strip where Bar Louie now stands. A special time where if you had a Jägermeister chilling machine you were next to God status on the apartment floor level. There was no Uber back then so you’d often pack in to whoever’s car was willing to be most sober for the night. Make dinner or order in from Silver Mine Subs, get dressed and crack open a cold snack as you watch dynamic quarterback Pat White and RB Steve Slaton carve their way out of 24-7 deficits into triple OT game wins. You’d throttle in between actually heading out or waiting to finish the game. You’d appease the room with Kanye West’s “Stronger” rolling on the Pandora Radio Playlist and saying you just wanted to watch one more series as you ran it back on the beer pong table. Library didn’t even start poppin’ until 11 PM anyway. We were watching the Rich Rodriguez spread option offense era. Swaggy but stout. It was even better because Rich Rod was from Grant Town, WV and attended school in Morgantown where he was a DB for the Mountaineers in the early 80’s. One of the best runs in college football history. I loved it, and they were one of the first teams that captured my interest in the sport.
We’re conference mates now and not in the way Oklahoma is for this transition year. This looks to be a long-haul conference foe. We’re 0-2 all time but now as peers, we have the opportunity to get something brewing. The inaugural Shine Bowl.
Moonshine versus Sunshine. I have a feeling this meeting will be like when you gather with the cool cousins on Thanksgiving and take that long “walk”. The “Standard is the Standard” disciples versus “The Climb Trusters”.
Enjoy this week. We have a ton more to play for and it’s just starting to get good. If you’re not having fun with it, what’s the point?
Take me home Gus. Knights by two touchdowns.
And for all the other “couch fans” out there…
I hope we get our first Big 12 win so you can burn it.
It’s West Virginia week after all.
‘Til next time, take care of yourself and each other. #GKCO