Can you feel it?
Students are back on campus. Fall classes are in session. Offseason practices are wrapping up. Tailgates are being planned. Tropical storms are looming in the Atlantic Ocean. Football is here.
Along with the usual excitement of a new season, UCF fans will get to experience something in 2023 that most of us have only dreamed of since we started following the Knights: Recognition as a “Power 5” program. Maybe that will be “Power 4” or “Power 2” soon (we’ll save realignment chat for another time), but this year UCF embarks on a journey that many thought would never happen. We are playing in the Big 12 Conference!
UCF’s jump up to the big leagues of college athletics has been a long-time coming. I’ve witnessed no less than TWO winless seasons, as a football fan (2004 & 2015). I’ve watched heartbreak after heartbreak spoil the Knights’ dreams for far too long: 2005 OT loss on a PAT in the Hawaii Bowl, 2006 blowout against the fighting Urban Meyer’s, 2007 one-score loss in the Liberty Bowl, 2008 OT loss against the green livestock of Tampa, 2015 loss to FCS team, Furman, and more head-scratching losses to Tulsa than I care to remember. Yet here we are.
I’ve watched us play in the MAC, C-USA, and American Athletic conferences. I stormed the field when UCF snapped its 17-game losing streak to Marshall. I was present when UCF beat its first top-25 ranked opponent. I was in the stands at the 2013 Fiesta Bowl. I bounced with fans during the 2017 War on I-4. I witnessed UCF host College Gameday and win back-to-back conference titles in 2018. I waved at Gators fans leaving the 2021 Gasparilla Bowl. But none of these events are as important for the future of our program as what happens NOW.
UCF finally controls its own destiny with respect to winning a(nother) national championship, and this time doing so could involve hoisting the golden, Dr. Pepper-sponsored, CFP (invitational) trophy. CRAZY! While the odds of that happening this year aren’t great, even the slightest chance that it could, should excite everyone as much as it does me.
Which brings me to my point. I want all UCF fans, young and old, new and experienced, eager and pessimistic, to remember that regardless of what happens on the field in 2023, this is a special year for UCF. We’ve finally arrived. Undefeated, winless, bowl-bound, scraping by, IT DOESN’T MATTER. This season is SPECIAL for so many reasons.
I won’t let final scores define my happiness (this year, anyway) and you shouldn’t either. Regardless of what the team’s Win-Loss record is at the end of the 2023 campaign, we should all embrace this special time. I’ll say it again — We are playing in the Big XII Conference! Don’t get caught up on who’s in the conference championship or what bowl game we draw. Enjoy hosting new teams and fans in the Bounce House. Enjoy the opportunity to visit new destinations for away games. Enjoy the additional spotlight and TV exposure. It’s all just beginning.
Wins and losses will sort themselves out, but chances for schools to move up to better conferences are few and far between. Enjoy this ride, Knight Nation! UCF is the youngest school to reach this milestone, and we’re only getting started.
So, remember, win or lose, 2023 will be a special season. Let’s make the most of it. Good vibes only!