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April’s appeal can’t compare with wins in fall

By Andy Zunz
On April 21, 2013

It ranks with some of the greatest underdog stories of all times — Rudy stepping on the field for Notre Dame, Boise State over Oklahoma, even the Little Giants taking down the Pee-Wee Cowboys.

That’s right. UCF took down the big, bad NCAA when it won its appeal of the football postseason ban.

UCF got nailed with violations after being busted for recruiting violations more than a year ago, but there was one sanction that didn’t sit right with school officials — the postseason ban in football.

Not many people thought UCF had a legitimate shot at winning its appeal, but the school will make an announcement today, and reports say that announcement will bring some good news.It took a lot of guts to appeal the bowl ban, but now the ultimate gamble should have the ultimate payoff.

If the Knights’ star-studded schedule, which features games against USF, South Carolina, Penn State and Louisville, wasn’t enough to get you excited, there was always the new conference.

If UCF’s first season in the American Athletic Conference, which is, you know, anything but Conference USA, didn’t quite get your blood pumping, you can start getting excited now. Because the postseason ban is all gone.

Every time something good happened around UCF Athletics during the past six months there was always the looming thought that, “Hey, it doesn’t matter, UCF just got busted for cheating.”

But now, the most visible and impactful sanction is gone. (Of course, the scholarship reduction and recruiting restrictions will hurt the team for the next few years. But those penalties won’t hang over the program like a bowl ban could.)

But there’s one crucial ingredient that isn’t decided in April. It won’t be drawn up between athletic directors and can’t be painted onto the field in July. The missing ingredient is something that can only happen in the fall — UCF still has to win games.

No matter what the NCAA appeals committee decides, UCF won’t actually be bowl eligible unless it wins six games next season. And, oh, what a let down it would be if this team wins any less than that.

The Knights have the chance to ride the wave of momentum brought on from this victory in April, but only for so long.

It may produce an extra pep in the underclassmen’s step during the dog days of summer. It should bring some extra fans to Bright House Networks Stadium when Akron comes to town.

But that momentum is only meaningful is the Knights can win.

And that is bigger than any conference change, scheduling shift or appeal victory could ever be.

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