Upset wins provide flash, but UCF’s formula chooses stability over momentary spotlight
Published: Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 15:09
One win doesn’t make a program.
One win won’t put a university into the Rose Bowl. It won’t get a university into the SEC. It won’t even make a university that much money or necessarily land a five-star recruit.
Louisiana Monroe may not be happy about this simple fact, but UCF doesn’t mind.
“Once Ohio State was over it’s over. When Akron was over it’s over. Everything right now is FIU and what we need to do to win,” UCF head coach George O’Leary said in his Tuesday press conference.
That’s right, boys. You gave it a good shot, but it’s time to come home. Now it’s time to focus on a rematch with FIU.
FIU is to UCF as UCF is to USF. Well, until 2014. But it still makes it a big game.
Not that anyone in the mainstream will give a hoot if the team formerly known as the Golden Knights gets a win over the team formerly known as the Golden Panthers.
O’Leary, who said last week that he will play anybody, really hasn’t defeated anybody. And those who still want to give O’Leary the boot may hold that over his head.
UCF has failed to record the big Appalachian State-like upset in the O’Leary era. In fact, the Knights have never defeated a ranked nonconference opponent.
It didn’t beat Texas in the inaugural Bright House Networks Stadium game in 2007 (The anniversary of which will be the day of the season opener against FIU on Saturday).
UCF didn’t beat a No. 8 Arkansas like Louisiana Monroe did last weekend. And UCF didn’t beat Ohio State last weekend either.
I have heard from fans that UCF needs an upset win to put it in the national spotlight. But are any of the aforementioned Davids cashing in?
No. It’s called an upset for a reason. It is an anomaly. A mistake. A glitch in the matrix. It isn’t the football equivalent to American Idol — designed to make a winner out of an otherwise loser.
What the Knights and O’Leary have done, however, is build a stable program. Not a lot of pizzazz or even signature wins. Minus the 2010 Liberty Bowl and the win over No. 15 Houston in 2009, the Knights have a curious lack of signature victories.
But O’Leary wouldn’t tell you that. O’Leary takes it one game at a time, putting equal value into each contest.
“I think there’s a mature group of kids we have. I lean on the senior class to make sure they understand every game is a big game,” O’Leary said.
Then he added, presumptuously:
“The fan base understands that better than they have in the past.”
Well, do you?