Finally, the day we’ve all been waiting for has come.
At long last, there is good news and wide smiles at UCF instead of bad vibes and grim faces.
At a time when UCF fans have had to endure a miserable football season, an embarrassing NCAA investigation, a fired athletic director and the possible transfer of their starting quarterback, Orlando’s hometown university at last announced the news everybody has waited weeks, months, years to hear:
The Knights are joining the Big East.
They are getting over the wall and into the BCS.
Someday has arrived.
The big time is here.
“This [good] news is a real boost,” UCF President John Hitt said after officially accepting an invitation to join the Big East, “and it did come when we could really use some.”
Did it ever.
After a dreary, depressing fall marked by disappointment on the field and controversy off of it, the Knights needed some BCS (Blessed Christmas Spirit). And it came when the Big East formally introduced UCF and four other schools — Boise State, Houston, SMU and San Diego State — as new members Tuesday. And for some reason, the words of George Bailey in the holiday movie classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” keep popping into my head.
Remember when George excitedly dreamed of getting out of tiny Bedford Falls, spanning the globe and traveling to all the great cities and historic landmarks? “I’m shakin’ the dust of this crummy little town off my feet, and I’m gonna see the world!”
This is how UCF fans should feel on this historic, euphoric day: as if anything and everything is possible. Ignore the naysayers who say UCF is getting into a restructured Big East that isn’t even a viable BCS league. Tune out the Southeastern Conference snobs who say UCF is joining a league that is a significant step down from the SEC.
So what? UCF is joining a BCS conference it should be able to compete in almost immediately — unlike many longtime members of the SEC and other BCS leagues who haven’t been able to compete for generations. As UCF football coach George O’Leary has said many times, “Just because you’re in a BCS league doesn’t mean you’re a BCS team. Some of these programs are just members only.”
Enjoy this day, UCF fans. Revere it. Relish it. Everything should seem a little bit better and a little bit brighter. The food should taste better. The beer should seem colder.
And, yes, your former enemies should be your friends today. Such as USF President Judy Genshaft, who for years snubbed UCF and tried to kill the natural rivalry between the two schools. Finally, with the Big East losing members and in danger of becoming the Big Deceased, Genshaft saw the benefit of opening the guard gate and inviting a school of UCF’s size, marketability and potential into USF’s neighborhood. She actually stood up and sponsored the motion to invite UCF into the league.
“I’m very pleased to welcome UCF and all of its athletic teams into the Big East,” Genshaft said Tuesday.
Said Hitt of the historic hard feelings between the two schools: “Whatever might have been in the past ought to stay there. We need to work on building a great relationship with USF moving forward.”
Correction: Great idea.
Forget about the millions more in TV money UCF will reap. Forget about joining an automatic-qualifying BCS league. Just being in the same conference with USF and renewing a rivalry that gets both fan bases juiced up makes jumping to the Big East a wonderful move.
A Wonderful Life.
For UCF fans, this is a day to remember the words of the great George Bailey:
“You want the moon? Just say the word, and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down.”
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