I haven’t been able to write anything in weeks and I honestly wasn’t sure why. You would naturally say “Writer’s Block” or something appropriate, but there’s a problem with that. I’m not a writer or even a sports media type. I’m just an ex-UCF Football player who loves my school, its sports teams, and loves to talk about them and give the exposure they rightfully deserve.
So it was just recently I realized that it wasn’t Writer’s Block or excessive work obligations or anything else in the outside world. Although, any of those certainly could have contributed to me not be able to focus on anything more than 185 characters long, much less anything 800 words or longer.
What I had realized was that once the fluff had gone out of our schedule, right around the Pitt game, and things became more and more serious, I had actually fallen back into “Player Mode”.
You see, “Player Mode”, for those of you who haven’t played competitive sports at a high level, is when everything else diminishes in importance and interest, with exception of the game itself. Not being a skilled and experienced writer, it takes a lot of focus and quiet to spit out anything I think is worthy of public consumption. With the volume about UCF Football getting louder and louder each week, that has become increasingly impossible to find. For me, it takes an incredibly inspiring idea for me to get past all the urges just to forget everything and enjoy everything amazing that is happening for UCF, its alumni, and fans right now. Well, it finally came.
UCF Football fans, this is YOUR Super Bowl, so for the love of God, please don’t regret it!
Let me explain. You see, as a former UCF Football player, even one who played a minor role as I did, all this just means more to me and any other player than it does to the rest of you. That’s not to say you care any less than the players do, just that it only means more because of the physical sweat equity and the time and blood and pain we have all invested. It just does.
But one of the most important things I can share with you is, if you really want to feel and share what the players feel, it is within your ability to find that tonight when UCF takes on Cincinnati in primetime on ABC. Get to that stadium. Do whatever you have to to get to Spectrum Stadium when YOUR UCF Football team takes the field, in what will be the biggest game that we may well ever see here.
The only time I EVER felt connected as strongly back with my team and my teammates was when I was back in that stadium screaming my lungs out, bouncing as high as physics and our beloved #BounceHouse would allow me. As Coach Heupel would say, “Compete for 60 minutes, whistle to whistle.” Well, UCF Knights Nation, if you REALLY want to feel what it’s like to be a part of that team, a HUGE part, you need to get there and compete in that stadium for ALL 60 minutes, whistle to whistle. Cincinnati is your opponent, UCF is your team.
Coaches like to say there are three phases of the game - Offense, Defense, and Special Teams. I don’t think that’s true. I believe truly there are four, and YOU are that 4th phase of the game, Knights Nation. THIS is YOUR Super Bowl!
Now UCF, God willing, will have bigger games in its beautiful future, I’m sure. But, never will they have one this important at this time in our history, and have it at home.
ESPN’s GameDay isn’t here because UCF Football is 9-0, or 22-0, or ranked #11, or any other reason other than that you brought them here. As we have all clearly seen over the course of the season, sports media don’t really care about winners and losers, they care about brands and spectacles. They are here because of all of you. You have brought them here with your tireless promotion, defending, and celebrating of our amazing team and its players. They are here because YOU have made UCF Football a HAPPENING!
The College Football world will be watching you and UCF Football tonight, and make no mistake they will be watching you just as much as the game on the field, because you are that 4th phase of the game that every team in the country covets. The win on the field is important because it will clinch the AAC East Division, keep our hopes for a repeat AAC Title, NY6 Bowl, back-to-back undefeated seasons, and maybe even a CFB Playoff invite in play. I have no doubts our supremely talented team will take care of business on the field. But what all of UCF Knights Nation need to realize that the immensely greater game of much more significant importance will be played off the field, in the stands, and even on Memory Mall, during the Game Day show at 9 a.m.
What you are playing for is imminently more important than just one game. You are the UCF brand just as much as every UCF player is. Your presence felt in the stands, shaking the pillars and the press box and thundering throughout Memory Mall will have a far greater impact than what happens on that field. If our dream as a university is to play in a bigger sandbox where we will get more respect, more money, more everything, then we as a fan base hold as big a key to that as anything else. When I say the whole college football world will be watching us, I also mean the conferences, their commissioners, and other university presidents, who vote on whom they want to join their privileged societies, will also be watching.
So, UCF Football fans, this truly is your Super Bowl, and no one has more at stake than you do. Coach Heupel will say that UCF is everybody else’s Super Bowl. Well they got it all wrong. WE, the UCF Knights Nation, have the most to play for, on and off the field. So make this the hardest place to ever come play a football game. Make it so that coaches will beg their ADs not to schedule a game here (sorry Danny White...they already do). Give us the reputation as the loudest, most imposing, most disruptive fan base in the entire country. I promise you, if you continue to do so at UCF football games, amazing things will come for our university down the road - Things you may have never even dreamed of.
30 years ago, in the fabled Noise Penalty Game, The Knights Nation came to life for the very first time. Make them proud today. Raise the dead like zombies with the noise from our bouncing bleachers. Wake the bejeezus out of “Susan” too. Give the nation a taste of #UCFKnightsNation, and give them a game that they, and you, will never forget for the rest of your lives, and will make chills run down your spines, and your hair stand up 30 years from now.
Meanwhile, it’s back to “Player Mode” for me - It’s GameDay!