Tales From The Moat: CONN-flicted

Another week…another loss.  There’s just nothing going right for the UCF Knights in 2015.

The epitome of this football game came early on a safety by the Knights on a kickoff return.  Now, I’m not going to single out the player by name and embarrass him, nor will I blame that one single moment for the ugly 40-13 loss for UCF…but man does it sum up the season so far.

The Knights are now just 19 games removed from beating Big XII Champion Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl and sit 0-6 with the most difficult stretch of their American Athletic Conference schedule ahead of them.

Sure, Coach O’Leary had stepped down as Interim Athletic Director in order to focus his attention on football and football only, but with Temple, Cincinnati, ECU and a much improved USF ahead things aren’t looking good for the black and gold.  This doesn’t mean an 0-12 season is guaranteed, nor does it mean the “Fire O’Leary” crowd is right or will get their way.

Yes, I will admit that O’Leary’s job is in jeopardy at this point.  This is something I never expected coming into the season…but it doesn’t mean that I agree it’s his time to go.

I think we’re all well aware now that the AD job was a bad idea.  I was wrong about that one.  Now O’Leary has a chance to make a few things happen to save his job over the second half of the season and more importantly it gives him time to develop his very young and very inexperienced football team.

I have said since the injury bug hit the Knights early on in the season that this year will end up being a lot like 2011…only difference is that they won some games by now in 2011, but the similarities are still there.  A young receiving corps, offensive line and defense are playing week in and week out for the Knights this season and it’s giving them much more experience than simply getting spring and summer camp reps with the first team going into next season.

The lumps these kids are taking will make them tougher both physically and mentally and create a strong team in a year or two…kind of like that 2013 team.

Something I think a lot of the “Fire O’Leary” crowd needs to realize is that UCF is not Alabama.  You cannot get 4 and 5 star recruits year in and year out.  It’s frustrating as a fan, I know, but it’s just the reality of the process.

UCF struggles to recruit in their own backyard for one massive reason…the talent here is top-notch.  Not only does UCF have to worry about FSU, Florida and Miami cherry picking the Central Florida area, but the entire ACC and SEC as well.

That makes the job of recruiting at UCF incredibly difficult, and a process of trial and error.

Sometimes  you get diamonds in the rough (e.g. Bortles, Hall, Perriman, etc).  Sometimes guys don’t pan out, but the outcry about recruiting seems obnoxious to me.  Nobody complained about the plethora of 2 and 3 star recruits winning football games in 2013, in fact a lot of people used it as bragging rights as the “better” QB recruit up in Gainesville (Jeff Driskel) finished 4-8 with the Gators that very same season.

Now when the losses pile up there’s no ability to brag about the lesser recruits performing better than the better recruits, it’s not turned to “O’Leary can’t recruit.” That I cannot get behind.  You can’t have it both ways.

With all of this said, I leave you with my predictions for the future.

Prediction 1: UCF will NOT be 0-12 this season

  • I don’t know who they beat…but they will win some football games, even if only 2 or 3

Prediction 2: George O’Leary will be the UCF Coach in 2016

  • Like it or not, I do not see a move being made now.  I think O’Leary has done enough to earn the right to another shot at getting the ship righted.  This could lead to a mid-season firing in 2016 for all I know, but I do not see UCF parting with the coach that put the program on the map unless it’s on his terms.

Prediction 3: The Knights will be AAC contenders again within 2 seasons and will still be on the short list for Power-5 expansion.

  • Call it a gut feeling…but I think the talent is there, just undeveloped.  They are in the process of being developed now and will get better and better as they grow with on-field experience.  Oh, and the Power-5 thing will not change with a bad season…the market only continues to grow.

So there you have it.

Take it or leave it, but know this…these kids deserve your support regardless of game outcomes.  You aren’t up early for practice.  You aren’t out on the practice fields in 90 degree heat in October.  You aren’t on the field watching the score continue to go against you.

They are.

So for the 18-22 year old college students who want nothing more than to please the entire fanbase…show up, cheer and support them no matter what the scoreboard says.

Charge On.

-Ditti

Any and all feedback welcomed!  Get me on Twitter (@Ditti33) or via e-mail at ditti@969thegame.com!

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