UCF alumni will remember 2011’s “Marshall Monsoon,” when not even a few gallons of water could keep the Knights from victory. Fans who stuck it out might even be the proud owners of “We survived the Marshall game” T-shirts. Yes, the night UCF defeated the Thundering Herd 16-6 was one for the books.
Unfortunately, the night we lost 40-13 to UConn with fewer than 1,000 fans left in the stands is one for the books, too.
Despite the embarrassing loss, and even more embarrassing attendance, there is still fun to be had in Bright House Networks Stadium. Yes, whether it’s a losing season or hurricane season, UCF football is still a heck of a good time — unless you’re a fair-weather fan, figuratively or literally.
When I was a student, and now as an alumna, I have no patience for fair-weather fans. I’m not old enough to remember the drenching that was the Marshall game, but I was front row for another iconic chapter in UCF football history: UCF vs. South Carolina circa 2013.
Early-bird student tickets were first-come, first-served for those who attended a volleyball game or soccer game — both of which probably still hold records for attendance. From there, lucky fans woke up at the crack of dawn to secure their seats in the stadium, where they waited another two hours for kickoff.
The eventual 28-25 win over UCF was a heartbreaker that kept students on the edge of their seats with turnover after turnover. And with each turnover, fair-weather fans would come and go. With just four minutes to go, fans headed for the exit when the Knights fumbled within their own 5-yard line. Those same fans did a 180 and beelined back to their seats when we recovered and sealed a touchdown.
True fans stuck it out this past Saturday, as UCF threw interceptions, fumbled and even gave up a few points to the Huskies with an embarrassing safety. Although hopes of winning quickly vanished when our boys weren’t able to score in the first drive with 2 yards to go, the fun didn’t wane.
The Marching Knights, who seemed to play louder and better than ever, filled the deafening silence that echoed through the stands. Cheerleaders tumbled down the end zone — the Knights weren’t using it anyways — and even walked through the stands in the fourth quarter, thanking fans for staying. With hardly any students to fist bump, Knight Fan Stan ventured outside the student section to high-five fans.
And the fans, or at least those in the Young Alumni Section, found camaraderie in defeat.
This season isn’t going to be one of nail-biter wins, one-handed catches and Hail Mary touchdowns. It just isn’t.
But it can still be one filled with helmet shuffles, first down karate chops, victory cries and mouthing the words you don’t know to the alma mater.
Winning is great. Going 12-1 is even better. Winning the conference championship and a bowl game is the best.
But if you ask me, college football is about so much more than winning.
Caroline Glenn is the Content Manager at the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter @bycarolineglenn or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.