The Rise and Conquer of University of Central Florida Sports
As it stands, the major athletic programs at the University of Central Florida had a lot of success. For a school not in one of the Power 5 conferences, they are doing really well. It started back in 2014 when the Knights football team went 11-1 and earned a BCS bowl berth. They would go on to beat Baylor, a power 5 conference team 52-42 in an upset for the ages. This was a domino effect for the school as it put them on the map.
This was a very important piece to the puzzle but it was not the only piece. After going 0-12 in 2015 the Knights needed a shake up and they got exactly what they needed. They brought on Scott Frost to become the head coach of the football team and it instantly brought the school a reputation that people would get behind. Frost instantly changed the atmosphere not only on the team but around the campus.
There was a certain buzz not just for football but for all sports. Frost came to UCF from Oregon which while he was there he made good friends with Phil Knight. Who is Phil Knight you ask– he’s co-founder and chairman of Nike. Because of this relationship, Coach Frost immediately had UCF in Nike Uniforms with a total of 64 different looks. Also adding last names to the jerseys which don’t seem like a big deal but believe me it does make a difference to recruits. Speaking of recruits, the football team ranked 55th, the highest of any non-power 5 schools in Scott Frost’s first full year of recruiting. This shows that the players would like to play for the school now dubbed “Oregon of the East”.
It didn’t just end with the football team, it actually trickled down to the other major sports like Baseball and Basketball. The basketball team hired Johnny Dawkins to be their head coach– a former Duke alum. He was able to study under Coach Mike Krzyzewski and it showed as he lead his team to a NIT Semifinal before losing to the eventual Champs TCU. For the first time in school history, the Knights had made it to the NIT Semifinal. Some were saying that this team should have been a NCAA Tournament team. They return their biggest player in Tacko Fall and the outlook for next season looks bright.
In Baseball, they also hired a new head coach named Greg Lovelady. In his first season, he led the Knights to a 40-20 record and the American Athletic Conference Title which resulted in a spot in the Tallahassee Regional for the College World Series. The Knights did lose in the regional to both Auburn and Florida State but again a great season and a team that will be on the rise for years to come.
The future for UCF has never looked so bright for the #2 largest public school in America. And as I said before, it all started with a little bit of a change of atmosphere. They brought in the younger coaches who brought a different kind of energy and swag to the school. It has translated well and I look forward to seeing what the future holds. And dare I say hopefully a national title in one of these sports in the near future.