What should fans do with Phil Steele’s lofty projection for UCF?
Published: Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 15:06
Phil Steele, a well-respected and longtime college football analyst, gave UCF football fans some message board material when he selected the Knights as his top team from a non-automatic qualifying conference for the 2012 season.
In the past, Steele’s predictions for this category have been dead on, with five of his last six selections making bowl championship series bowls.
Still, after last season’s disappointment, the question remains: How wary should fans be of this prediction?
Expectations, predictions are last thing this fanbase needs
Steven Ryzewski, Sports Editor
Why, Phil Steele, why?
Why would you get our hopes up?
Here at UCF, we tried the whole “great expectations” deal before the 2011 season — and then went 5-7.
Why couldn’t you just let any would-be success the Knights experience this year be a surprise?
Don’t misunderstand me: On one hand, it’s a boost for a program that experienced a tough year to have someone who has been covering football as long as Steele project it as his top non-AQ team in 2012.
It’s the kind of thing that could get people excited. It’s also a sign of respect for the direction the program is heading.
These are good things.
And, please, don’t misunderstand me again — the Knights weren’t as bad as their record reflected last year and could be pretty good this season.
Remember, six of those seven losses were by six points or fewer in 2011. The Knights blew a few games, to be sure.
So, Steele’s projection has some merit, and in a sense, it should be a source of pride.
There will be a ton of talent at head coach George O’Leary’s disposal this fall.
But why couldn’t you just let us be pleasantly surprised?
After a 5-7 season, the expectations are in the gutter. Compared to a year ago, when silly sports writers like myself were predicting 10 wins or more, this year, eight or nine wins sounds like the Promised Land.
Personally, I think he’s onto something. UCF could be pretty good this year.
But after last year, forgive me if I’m not a big fan of predictions and expectations.
Some logic in prediction, but proceed with caution
Miranda Burgan, Senior Staff Writer
There are a couple of key things to take into consideration when theorizing the possibility of a successful season for UCF football.
Phil Steele, a widely accepted college football guru of sorts, could be hyping up expectations, rolling the dice and hoping he’s the guy who said it first — but he has some reason on his side.
First things first, take a look at UCF’s schedule. The only game that jumps out at you is the second contest of the season at Ohio State. Not so fast, conscious observers who shudder at the sound of Buckeye — it isn’t 2002. Ohio State is coming off of a losing season and getting assimilated to a new coach. This leaves the stage wide open for a UCF victory against a big-name opponent (à la men’s basketball beating UConn last season) that puts the Knights in the conversation on SportsCenter.
There are your usual conference foes as the season progresses, yet none possess a clear-cut advantage over UCF on either side of the field.
Another thing to consider is head coach George O’Leary’s seesaw act. Since becoming head coach of the Knights in 2004, O’Leary has followed every losing season with a winning one.
If that holds true, the 5-7 finish in 2011 guarantees a necessary turnaround.
In no sport is anything ever “safe to say,” but with 16 returning starters and a schedule that should not necessarily incite fear into the hearts of Knights fans, Steele’s announcement looks more like a safe bet than it does a leap of faith.
However, we’ve been down this road of high expectation before, so use your good sense and proceed with caution.
Knights will be top 25 team this season
Wes Goldberg, Staff Writer
For years now, UCF has been considered a sleeping giant.
And according to Phil Steele, that giant is due to wake up. He has ranked UCF No. 15 in his preseason poll and as the top non-AQ program in the country. So should we expect UCF to live up to those expectations?
At least not that high.
For a No. 15 ranking, UCF would have to win one of two games: at Ohio State in the second week or against Missouri at home in Week Four. In addition, the Knights need to win the season opener at Akron and the first home game against FIU (to which the Knights lost last season). That gives UCF a 3-1 record before conference play, in which the team would likely have to go undefeated to achieve that ranking.