USF Belatedly Ties Itself to UCF’s Coattails with War on I-4

War On I-4

War on I-4 UCF USF
The AAC East title is up for grabs this Friday in what is the biggest War on I-4 ever.

The War on I-4 is officially official. This week marked an historic acknowledgement by the administrations of both UCF and USF that the two schools exist in a state of rivalry, and will compete as such for two trophies – One in football and one in all sports in which they both compete.

This is a good thing, as Eric Lopez and I discussed in our latest podcast this week.

But apparently not everyone is on board.

Let’s read this dispatch from USF writer Collin Sherwin of the SB Nation site “The Daily Stampede,” in an article cutely titled “USF Officially Recognizes UCF Exists”:

Those of us that run this here website were raised to believe C.Florida is inferior in all areas and also kinda trashy. Fundamentally tying yourself to them at the hip is just hard for us to accept after decades of indoctrination.

But we get it. It’s a thing now. Whatever.

More later. We need to think about this.

Well, I know it’s hard for you, so take all the time you need to think.

[still waiting]

You know, Colin, in the time it took you to think, I pulled up a previous article where you explicitly lobbied for this rivalry, and for the trophy to be…jersey color selection? Jesus. You not only have a lousy memory and a bad interruption in your own space-time continuum, but a horrible taste in fashion.

[still waiting]

Ha! That was hilarious. That Gold Jersey Game thing lasted, what, three tweets?

[checks Twitter]

Yup, three tweets.

[still waiting]

Oh God, never mind. I’ll just spell it out for you and save us both some time because we don’t have all week.

“Those of us that run this here website were raised to believe C.Florida is inferior in all areas and also kinda trashy.”

Well, that’s mighty rich coming from the strip club capital of the world.

OK, OK, pipe down. I know that’s not factually accurate. But that perception exists for a reason, and I’m not sure it’s a badge of honor. So beware whom you call “trashy.” You might be working for us one day.

Nice try, but I can’t give you credit for the C. Florida dig though. Not original enough. Even ESPN gave up that ghost at your expense:

Also: I didn’t know USF gave out degrees for Internet Trolling with minors in Ancient Humor Studies.

As for the “inferior” part, I defer to the cold, cruel data, courtesy @UCFSportsInfo:

I thought something else was missing…Oh, yeah:

BCS/New Year’s Six Bowl Victories: UCF 1, USF 0

But hey, you did have that one week when you were #2 in the nation before you promptly lost to Rutgers, UConn and Cincinnati in consecutive weeks.

Alright, I’ll give you the 5-2 head-to-head advantage. Let’s see how far that takes you.

I didn’t even touch upon the other non-football parameters because I already began to feel sorry for you.

Moving on…

“Fundamentally tying yourself to them at the hip is just hard for us to accept after decades of indoctrination.”

Well, whether you like it or not, you’re right. This is happening. And it’s happening because you need us a hell of a lot more than we need you.

Here’s why UCF is getting more play from the Big 12 than USF, and again, it comes down to cold, cruel data.

UCF is Winning the Numbers Game

When I came to UCF as a freshman in the Fall of 2001, I was one of approximately 36,000 students there. By the time I graduated in the Spring of 2005, I was one of about 42,000.

As of the Spring of 2016, UCF had more than 60,000 students. USF had about 48,000 students as of 2015.

What does this mean? Well, over time, UCF will continue to gain market share on USF in terms of the number of graduates out there wearing their black and gold.

Let’s make some grossly unscientific estimates of the number of people these universities churn out as one-quarter of the overall population each year. That would give UCF about 15,000 graduates per year, and USF about 12,000.

For comparison’s sake, using the same crude estimation, UF (52,000 enrollment) graduates about 13,000 students a year, and FSU (41,000) about 10,000.

Assuming those numbers stay about the same, over twenty years, 60,000 more people – or the equivalent of one whole UCF campus – will graduate from UCF than USF.

So each year, UCF is gaining market share on not only USF, but UF and FSU. Don’t think for one minute that the folks at the Big 12 Conference office don’t know this.

That matters a lot. More alumni equals more fans watching games on TV, going to games, and more donors. And over time, that means more big donors once the younger alumni – people my age – get older and have more disposable income.

Money talks.

USF’s athletic director, Mark Harlan, is not stupid. He knows that USF is at a long-term competitive disadvantage compared to UCF. So, rather than continue the school’s idiotic policy of not recognizing UCF as a worthy foe in anything, Harlan got on board and signed on the dotted line.

In a remarkable exhibition of magnanimity, by agreeing to make this rivalry official, UCF has more or less tacitly allowed USF to ride its coattails to wherever in the Power Five it goes. This was a master stroke by Danny White, who finished the work that Todd Stansbury was reportedly working on before his counterpart, Bill McGillis, left for Southern Miss.

[Your A.D. left you for Southern Miss? WOW. That’s like your girlfriend leaving you for…I just can’t do it. It’s too mean and really that bit of information just speaks for itself.]

But this happened because USF needed to tie itself to UCF in order to have any chance at getting to a Power Five league, not the other way around. Hell, even Martin Fennelly at the Tampa Bay Times acknowledges you need us a hell of a lot more than we need you.

To paraphrase Tom Wilkinson’s portrayal of Benjamin Franklin in the HBO miniseries “John Adams”, the question is not whether, by a declaration of rivalry, that we should make ourselves something that we are not, but whether we should declare a fact something which already exists.

(And by the way, USF fans, Benjamin Franklin was NOT a President of the United States, even though he shows up on your money.)

This rivalry is real. It has been for a long time. I had said in the podcast that these two schools are better together than they are apart. I’d like to amend that, based on the evidence:

Clearly USF is better off when tied to UCF than the other way around.

So congratulations, USF, on finally acknowledging reality to keep your own ship afloat. Took you long enough. I guess we’re taking you along for the ride now. Better buckle up.

But we’re not asking you for directions while you are not actually located in South Florida.

Editor’s Note: Article updated to include head-to-head record.

About Jeff Sharon 193 Articles
Jeff Sharon is the Managing Editor, Publisher, and boss around here. He graduated from UCF in 2005 and worked in the Knights' athletic department full-time from 2008-2010. He still works for UCF as a public address announcer at several sporting events and also thinks the Atlantic Sun Conference days were more fun than you realized. Follow him on Twitter at @Jeff_Sharon.