Well, here we go. Mike Bianchi is citing “sources from both schools” stating that the UCF Knights and Florida Gators are “apparently close to signing a contract for a three-game series, with two of the games being in Gainesville and one in Orlando.”
Finally!!! #Gators and #UCF are about to sign a contract to play a football series. Love it!!! Here's my story: https://t.co/TbpG9lZfwE pic.twitter.com/5A5qPvTlyW— Mike Bianchi (@BianchiWrites) July 14, 2021
The series would look like this:
- 2024 at Gainesville
- 2030 at UCF - and yes, Bianchi reports it will be at the Bounce House
- 2033 at Gainesville
Fan reaction is mixed, but the general sense is that this is somewhere between a necessary evil and a good thing.
UCF and Florida have played only twice, both times in Gainesville. The Gators have prevailed both times - 58-27 in 1999 and 42-0 in 2006.
Let’s break this down further.
The Danny White Home-and-Home Policy Is Officially Dead
It was a good thought, but Danny White’s home-and-home-or-bust policy after the 2017 season was a failure, and Terry Mohajir has quite rightly tossed it in the trash.
Since UCF’s undefeated national championship season, Danny White added the following games and opponents to UCF’s schedule:
- Louisville (2021 and 2022)
- Boise State (2021 and 2023)
- BYU (2023 and 2024)
- FAU (2022 and 2025)
- FIU (2020 and 2021)
- UConn (2021)
- Liberty (2024)
NOTE: North Carolina and Georgia Tech were already on the schedule prior to 2017. Those games were moved or wiped because of hurricanes and pandemics.
So White nabbed exactly one school from an A5 conference since laying his cards on the table. Not exactly the results he and UCF were hoping for. Sure, he parried with Florida in an attempt to get public opinion on his side (and he was successful at that), but eventually you have to show us the baby. White had nothing. The result was a barren future slate and few opportunities to fill it.
In comes Terry Mohajir and he immediately made it crystal clear that he was breaking from White’s gambit because — as we knew — it wasn’t working. What better way to finally complete that clean break than to schedule the SEC school that is just a two-hour drive away?
Who cares if the buy out of the game?
So the first game is in 2024, but the return trip to the Bounce House is not until 2030. That’s a ways away. UF had some open spots sooner than that in 2027 and 2029, but we don’t know what else they’re working on for those slots, nor do we know what UCF is working on in those years, either.
We don’t know what the contract buyout amount is for the series. But if your concern is, “Oh they’re going to just buy out of the Orlando game,” well, so what? That’s probably at least a cool million or so in UCF’s pocket, game or not.
A lot can happen between now and 2033
To those who are just mad UCF gave in to the whole two-for-one thing, remember there’s a lot of time between now and 2033. Florida could buy out of the third game, making it a de-facto home-and-home (!). Also, the game could at least in theory be moved up, or even moved out of Gainesville to Camping World Stadium, if Florida Citrus Sports would like.
So stop getting mad over something that may or may not happen 12 years from now.
It does not set a bad precedent
When did we forget that two-for-one is the norm for all non-A5 schools when scheduling A5s? UCF tried to break the mold, and as we saw, it didn’t work.
If that means other schools will now think they can “demand a two-for-one,” that’s fine. We don’t have to give it to them.
Florida is one thing. It’s a storied program just minutes away from UCF, and they are the legacy power team in the state.
If, say, Illinois suddenly thinks they can start demanding two-for-ones from UCF, well, good luck. Florida has leverage, Illinois does not.
It’s OK to change your mind
When asked why he changed his mind on a topic, the economist John Maynard Keynes reportedly replied, “When I receive new information, I change my position. What, sir, do you do with new information?”
This was the right move. It just was. Deep down, we all know it.
Sometimes when you stick your neck out and take a risk, you miss. That happens. The USF fans are going to give it to us. So are the SEC fans.
]So what? Who gives a crap what they think? Why does it matter?
Truth is, it doesn’t matter what they think. They are not relevant. And the USF fans are especially irrelevant. So they win the night on Twitter. Congratulations. That got them exactly zero wins on the field, which is exactly how many wins they have against FBS opponents since November of 2019.
What’s relevant is the games that are in front of you. If luring Florida with a two-for-one is what enables UCF to attract other premier opponents to the Bounce House, then so be it. And if they have to write UCF a fat check to get out of it, likewise.
It wasn’t that long ago that all UCF could get in terms of games like this was one-off road games or two-for-nothings. Now mighty Florida — and likely a lot of other programs with them, now that it appears they’ve broken the ice — recognizes that the Bounce House is a place you have to visit if you want to maintain relevance. That’s no small thing.