Tag Archives: UCF Knights

College Football Playoff is Still not Perfect Solution

Last Monday, December 22, marked the 30th anniversary of the first college football game I ever attended.

The game was the Florida Citrus Bowl between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Florida State Seminoles.

Joining me for my first in person taste of gridiron glory from our seats among the “Zonies” on a warm 80 degree Orlando, Florida winter day were my mom, grandmother and cousin.

Thanks to the magic of the internet I was able to watch a grainy broadcast of the game yesterday to see if I could find any shots of my family in the stands. Sadly I did not.

With two family members rooting for each side, it was probably for the best that the game ended in a 17-17 tie so that each of us could feel like we won.

In 1984 my mother, grandmother, cousin and I watched the Georgia Bulldogs and Florida State Seminoles battle to a 17-17 tie in the Florida Citrus Bowl. Photo R. Anderson

In 1984 my mother, grandmother, cousin and I watched the Georgia Bulldogs and Florida State Seminoles battle to a 17-17 tie in the Florida Citrus Bowl.
Photo R. Anderson

I had the opportunity to attend many other games at the Citrus Bowl Stadium during my time as both a student and as a Sports Information Office intern at the University of Central Florida but 1984 marked my only trip to a bowl game.

While the UCF Knights no longer play at there, the Citrus Bowl will once again be filled with screaming fans tomorrow as the college football bowl season is in full swing.

There are 39 bowl games on the schedule this year from coast to coast.

Bowl games were even played beyond the continental United States in Hawaii and the Bahamas.

Plans call for even more games next year as cities and companies try to capitalize on the popularity of college football and bring the bowl experience to their cities.

Bowl games are profitable and allow schools who are “bowl eligible” to play one more game while the schools who did not make the cut get an early start on next year.

Bowl games also allow sports networks to sell lots and lots of commercials to pad their pockets before the lean months of the sporting calendar begin.

The Bowl system has changed dramatically since younger me saw his first game and this year offers college football’s version of a playoff where four teams were chosen to battle for the National Championship.

I know that we are all supposed to rally behind the playoff selection committee and say that a college playoff is good and just, but the fact remains that it still boils down to a subjective selection, if not a full blown popularity contest.

While not getting into details on the four chosen teams and whether or not they belong, the fact remains they were chosen by human beings instead of the way other sports select their playoff teams.

In every other professional sport, and let’s not kid ourselves by thinking that college football is not a professional sport, playoff teams are selected based on either winning your division or being a wild card team.

While this system in the NFL brought us a division winner with a losing record, everyone knows the rules going into it.

There is no room for debates on strength of schedule or other subjective factors. It is very cut and dry as to who is and is not in the playoffs.

It is likely that college football will never be able to remove all of the subjective nature of the playoffs based on the number of teams involved and other factors such as wanting teams from the power conferences to always be involved in the championship game.

The College Football Playoff system is not perfect and it never will be.

A March Madness type tournament where 64 basketball teams are whittled down to a single champion would likely not be feasible based on the number of days needed to recover after a football game, but I hold slightly more faith that a Final Four basketball Champion is more worthy than a football playoff champion.

So enjoy your bowl games and cheer on your alma mater but do not think that the four best schools in the country will always be represented in the playoffs.

That is not to say that it is time for the tin foil hat society to look for conspiracies and call Mulder and Scully to straighten things out. The Bowl Championship Series that preceded this year’s playoff format was equally flawed when it came to objectivity.

There is just too much room for error and too many cooks in the kitchen with agendas of their own for a football champion that all will agree on to be crowned.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I am off to see if I can find my ticket stub from the 1984 Citrus Bowl.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson

 

If it Snows in Dallas and a Football Game is Held do the Fans Make a Sound?

Last Saturday the University of Central Florida Knights captured the American Athletic Conference title when they defeated the Southern Methodist University Mustangs before a handful of fans.

The lack of attendance was due to an ice storm that hit the Dallas area making travel to places like SMU’s Gerald R. Ford Stadium nearly impossible.

Of course as everyone knows the show must go on so the Knights and Mustangs played in temperatures that neither team normally experiences in front of fans who managed to find their way to the stadium while the rest of the word watched from the warm comfort of home.

Snow is a beautiful thing to watch fall to the ground but can be less than fun to drive through. A snowy night in Dallas Friday led to empty seats and cold players Saturday at SMU. Photo R. Anderson

Snow is a beautiful thing to watch fall to the ground but can be less than fun to drive through. A snowy night in Dallas Friday led to empty seats and cold players Saturday at SMU.
Photo R. Anderson

I was originally supposed to attend the “Ice Bowl” game but did not end up getting tickets due to a scheduling conflict that arose after a change in the start time of the game.

As I sat on a futon watching the game in relative warmth eating a sandwich and some Golden Flake dill pickle chips I found myself conflicted.

Part of me was glad that I had not made the four hour drive the night before through the ice storm.

Don’t get me wrong I love playing in the snow and am even okay driving in it for the most part but I really do not trust the drivers around me to be equally careful in those conditions.

Also in my experience municipalities that do not experience snow on a regular basis do not always have the best resources available to respond to a far reaching winter weather event.

So as I was looking at reports of drivers who had been stuck in their cars on Interstate 35 for over seven hours due to hazardous conditions on the road I felt happy that I was not among them.

But as the game progressed and I saw the empty stadium, I felt like I was missing a once in a lifetime chance to be at a major college football game that had less attendance than an elementary school spring scrimmage gets in Texas.

Okay, to be honest I am not sure that Texas elementary schools hold football scrimmage games but if they did I am sure that they would be well attended by “scouts” trying to figure out what the high school team would look like in a few years.

I will never forget covering a high school football game in a small town in Texas about a decade ago and overhearing some fans bemoaning how porous the offensive line was after the quarterback was sacked for the five or sixth time in the first half.

Someone else overheard the conversation and said, “Just you wait a couple years and we will get those holes patched right up. They’ve got some real good fellers down there at the intermediate school that will protect the quarterback.”

Yes, people were scouting the middle school team and looking forward to their arrival in high school to shore up the offensive line in a few years. They definitely see priorities different in Texas.

Going back to Saturday’s game while I was happy to be watching the game on ESPN, part of me really wished I was having a “Lambeau moment” and watching the game in frigid temperatures.

Throughout my football watching life I have always loved watching the games where there was snow on the ground or wind-chill in the single digits. The fans and players for the most part always seem so cheerful in those situations. Either that or their faces were frozen in a smile as soon as they got to the stadium.

While I never played organized football I did play backyard touch football, which inevitably turned into backyard tackle football. Some of the best games were on the rare cold Florida days where one could see their breath and their noses were running from the wind-chill.

We would stay out in the cold for hours trying to imitate the moves of the professional players. Sometimes we came close to achieving that and other times we just fell on the ground and got a mouthful of grass.

Fast forward a few years to my time as a reporter and I loved roaming the sidelines on a cool night during football season. Soccer season was also fun to cover as the games were even colder on average and the stands were full of huddled masses trying to stay warm.

As crazy as it might sound I like being cold and feeling the chill on my skin. It actually makes me feel that much more alive when the mercury in the thermometer drops.

Of course having spent most of my life living in warm states the opportunity to experience cold like that comes in small doses and one needs to capture every opportunity they can when it arises.

So that is why as I was watching the couple of hundred fans at the game in Dallas I wished I was there with them feeling the cold and trying to find some warmth during bathroom breaks.

My rational mind knows that even if I had tickets to the game and had not had the schedule conflict that prevented me from going staying home and avoiding the ice covered roads was the right thing to do.

After clinching a conference championship with snow on the sidelines the UCF Knights will travel to the land of cacti on New Year's Day with their sights set on a Fiesta Bowl victory. Photo R. Anderson

After clinching a conference championship with snow on the sidelines the UCF Knights will travel to the land of cacti on New Year’s Day with their sights set on a Fiesta Bowl victory.
Photo R. Anderson

And realistically I likely would have caught the sniffles from the prolonged time out in the cold so it is best that I stayed warm and watched the game indoors.

I also know that there will be other chances to watch sporting events in cold weather so all is not lost.

As for those Knights from the University Central Florida who battled in those cold temperatures, they are off to Arizona for a date in the Fiesta Bowl with the Baylor University Bears.

And while there might be cold weather outside at game time weather will not be a factor during the game as the Knights and the Bears will battle indoors in a climate controlled setting on a field of fake grass.

Somehow I don’t think Bear Bryant and Vince Lombardi would approve.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to start planning the menu for my Fiesta Bowl viewing party. Go Knights.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson

Knights Inch Closer to Taste of Sweet Sugar

Tonight the University of Central Florida Knights (9-1, 6-0) will host the University of South Florida Bulls (2-8, 2-3) in their second to last game of the college football regular season.

UCF is guaranteed the school’s first ever spot in one of the Bowl Championship Series games if they hold on to win the American Athletic Conference.

With games left against the Bulls tonight in Orlando and the Southern Methodist University Mustangs next Saturday in Dallas the odds do seem to be in favor of UCF holding on for a conference title and coveted BCS bowl spot.

The UCF Knights will host the USF Bulls tonight and will try to inch one step closer to the school's first ever BCS bowl appearance. Photo R. Anderson

The UCF Knights will host the USF Bulls tonight and will try to inch one step closer to the school’s first ever BCS bowl appearance.
Photo R. Anderson

As it currently stands UCF is projected to go to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans where they will most likely face the Tigers of Auburn University.

Of course this is merely a projection based on the information at the time which makes planning for a January 2, 2014 excursion to Louisiana hard to predict.

While on paper UCF should have little difficulty defeating USF and SMU, in reality no one really knows what will happen until the games are actually played.

The UCF versus USF game is just one of many marquee matchup games this weekend as the college football season ramps down and teams from sea to shining sea battle for those coveted bowl game invites.

As stressful as that can be at times for all involved the fact that the games are played is certainly better than a world where the outcomes are known in advance.

From the start of the season most people were convinced that Alabama and Oregon would square off for the National Title this year.

When UCF and SMU met at Gerald Ford Stadium in Dallas in 2007 the Knights went on to win the Conference USA title. This year the Knights will earn a automatic BCS bowl berth with a victory over the Mustangs.  Photo R. Anderson

When UCF and SMU met at Gerald Ford Stadium in Dallas in 2007 the Knights went on to win the Conference USA title. This year the Knights will earn a automatic BCS bowl berth with a victory over the Mustangs.
Photo R. Anderson

As the preseason script went Alabama would be looking to win their third straight title and the Ducks of Oregon would be trying to show that they were worthy of all of the hype and could win the big game when it mattered by ending the Crimson Tide’s threepeat bid and bring an end to the Southeastern Conference’s stranglehold on the National title.

Some students at the University of Oregon were so sure of this likelihood that they had “We want Bama” shirts printed and sold on campus at the start of the season.

A funny thing happened after the ink on those shirts dried though.

Oregon lost some games and the Ducks were knocked out of the chance to face Alabama this year. On the bright side the “We want Bama” shirts did not have a date printed on them so they should still be valid next year when Oregon and Alabama are likely once again ranked near the top of the teams to beat list.

And even Alabama is not “guaranteed” a spot in the National title game. The Crimson Tide still have to survive games against fourth ranked Auburn this weekend in the Iron Bowl and the SEC Championship game in two weeks in order to make it to the BCS National Championship Game.

Second ranked Florida State University climbed the polls after Oregon fell and while they should certainly manhandle a hapless University of Florida Gators team this weekend even their seat in the title game is not a given. Florida State also has some looming off field pending legal issues that could affect their roster for the rest of the season so their path is far from easy.

So that brings us back to this weekend where today and tomorrow will be filled with wall to wall college football games.

Football and cheese stuffed deli meat is the perfect combination. Photo R. Anderson

Football and cheese stuffed deli meat is the perfect combination.
Photo R. Anderson

And if two full days of college football were not enough there is also a full slate of NFL action on Sunday making this truly a weekend for football fans to be thankful.

Throw into the mix some leftovers from Thanksgiving and a football fan would have very little reason to leave the house from Friday morning to Sunday night. They should still maintain standard hygiene rituals though for the sake of those around them if they do decide to stay glued to the television all weekend.

Considering the fact that many fans would have started their gluttonous football weekend with three games on Thursday, they should at least leave the house on Monday for work before returning home for Monday Night Football.

With that much football to watch it is advisable to stay well hydrated and to get up and stretch at least once an hour to keep the blood flowing and minimize the risk of numbness in the posterior regions. And again be kind to yourself and others by remembering to leave time to shower and freshen up from time to time during the wall to wall pigskin marathon.

While this weekend marks the arrival of copious amounts of football, the arrival of the countdown to the bowl game season also means that by January there will be no more college football and by February the NFL season will be over.

So enjoy the games while you can football fans and prepare for the months ahead when the gridiron goes dark.

Of course that is the time when the Ballparks of Spring Training come alive so one is never really left without sports to enjoy.  And football will be back by next summer to help those suffering from withdrawal.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a game to watch. Go Knights!

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson