Tag Archives: Florida

UCF Football was Failed By Many, Including their Own Conference 

UCF’s 2017 National Championship ring. Photo Credit: Twitter.com/@UCF_Football

 
The UCF Knights hosted their first spring under new head coach Josh Heupel. A few minutes before the game, the team showed highlights from the 2017 season on the jumbotron at Spectrum Stadium in east Orlando. They also hung a banner celebrating their 13-0 undefeated season. The players and coaches also received gaudy, diamond covered championship rings to not only commemorate the perfect season, but American Athletic Conference title, Peach Bowl Championship and self proclaimed National title.
While Knights’ fans and alums love it. The pettiness of the Knight’s athletic department is rubbing people outside of central Florida the wrong way. 

The Knight’s argument is that they beat the Auburn Tigers, the only team to beat the College Football Playoff National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide. Maybe they could have gotten away with claiming the Championship in the 1990’s when two different team’s finished number one in the Associated Press poll and Coaches polls following the bowl season. Just go look up the 1997 season that ended with the Florida Gators and Michigan Wolverines claiming the national crown. That season is what eventually led to the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). However, the College Football Playoff is the new system in place to decide who is the number one team in the land, and UCF wasn’t invited.

I agree UCF was screwed out of a shot to play for the title and prove how good they were on the field. The finger should be solely pointed at the thirteen people on the College football playoff committee for them not getting that chance. They are the ones who are supposed to know the game of football, watch all of the games throughout the season and judge what teams are playing the best, and deserving of one of those coveted final four spots. 

Former UCF Head Coach, now at Nebraska, said during the 2017 season he wouldn’t campaign for a high ranking in the weekly College Football Playoff rankings because he wanted to focus on each game in front of the Knights. He was right, and it wouldn’t have looked good for Knight’s Athletic Director Danny White to beat the school’s chest either.

But the finger should be pointed at the head coaches of the thirteen teams the Knights defeated, as well as the Athletic Directors at the schools of the American Athletic Conference and Michael Aresco, the Commissioner of the AAC. 

Each Tuesday night the CFP committee disrespected the Knights in those rankings, the aforementioned people should have been pounding the table about how good UCF really is, and why the committee should have shown coach Frost and his team more respect. It would’ve been in their benefit to stomp for UCF, because of the money the conference would’ve received with a Knight’s CFP invitation. But also, the legitimacy it would have brought to the entire conference out of the obscurity of being a mid-major or “Group of Five.” Even though those schools lost to UCF in 2017, it would have been a victory for the AAC.

2017 should be a lesson for future seasons when a mid-major program has a run like the Knights to give them a realistic shot they earned on the field at a National title. But, this also may be a call to action on the need to expand the playoffs to six games­­, which many are in favor of. Five slots for the Power Five conferences (ACC, B1G, PAC-12, SEC, BIG 12) and one at-large spot for a team from a “Group of Five” like UCF. I don’t think anyone would have a problem with this, and the committee would still get the weekly controversy over the selections they obviously want. Most importantly, you wouldn’t have the embarrassment of leaving out the only undefeated team in the sport and them crowning themselves as champions. 

Photo Credit: Twitter.com/@UCF_Football

  

Photo Credit: Twitter.com/@UCF_Football

 

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A Successful Pro Bowl Increases Orlando’s Case as a Major Sports City

Orlando is ready to make its mark as a true major sports city. Photo Credit: Kavis Peak

The 67th NFL Pro Bowl takes place this Sunday in Orlando. It’s only the third time in 38 years it’s been held away from its mainstay location of Honolulu, Hawaii. Next season it will be in the “City Beautiful” as well, and there’s an option for 2019. What an opportunity for Orlando and Orange County leaders to show the sports world that we are a major league sports city. Not just a family-friendly tourist destination.

The NFL is the king of pro sports in America. Whatever they decide to do, you can bet the commissioners of the other major sports are taking notes. That’s why a very successful week of hosting the Pro Bowl and its events, official and unofficial — ahem, parties at nightclubs — will go a long way in enticing other major sporting events to make their way to central Florida.

Let me say this first, I know the Pro Bowl is a meaningless game that leaves much to be desired from hardcore football fans. Many of the top players have either withdrawn or are playing in the Super Bowl. Even with that said, the game has sold out the 65,000 capacity stadium including standing room only. Score one point for Florida Citrus Sports and their CEO Steve Hogan for making people care to spend their hard earned money for this game.

The great thing about moving the Pro Bowl to central Florida is it gives true football fans a chance to come out and get up close and personal with their favorite gridiron stars. That wasn’t the case when the game was held in Hawaii. It’s much easier and less expensive for NFL fans to get to Orlando for the game and week, then it is to get to Honolulu. Sure players would rather have that trip to the 50th state, but it’s not like central Florida weather and beaches is anything to sneeze at this time of the year with highs in the mid-70’s. But also in this day in age where the players are more worried about their brands, I’m looking specifically at you Antonio Brown, Mister Facebook Live, it would benefit them to be in the continental U.S. where their fan base can get to them. Score another point for the 407.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs want to be considered for future Super Bowls, NCAA National Football and Basketball Championships. We have the state-of-the-art facilities to host those events.

The 80-year old Camping World Stadium, better known and still affectionally called the Citrus Bowl, just underwent a $207 million dollar renovation. No it’s not the billion dollar playpens in Dallas, Minnesota and Atlanta, but It is already the hosts of three college football bowl games annually. Last season it was the site of Florida State’s spring game and a regular season matchup against Ole Miss. In the coming seasons, Louisville, Alabama, Florida and Miami will play in the Camping World kickoff game here. Just last November, the ACC moved its conference championship game from Charlotte to Orlando due to the controversial North Carolina House Bill 2 law. It has hosted Wrestlemania’s and it will host another this April. It can host major events.

In the past seven years, a the $480 million dollar Amway Center was built and hosted the 2012 NBA All-Star game and first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. The Orlando City Lions of the MLS opens its $155 million dollar soccer specific stadium this spring. 10 miles east of downtown on the campus of UCF, there’s the 10-year old 45,000+ capacity Bright House Stadium and 10,000+ seat CFE Arena.

City leaders have spent the money and made the efforts to make sure everything needed is in place for central Florida to prove it has more to offer than Disney World, Universal Orlando and other touristy attractions. Another point on the board for Orlando.

With the new soccer stadium, there can also be an opportunity to draw National team events.  Maphre Stadium in Columbus, Ohio is currently the adopted hometown for the Men’s team, but  Orlando could extend an invitation to become the home base for the U.S. Women’s National team who recently played in the Citrus Bowl in 2015. The city was successful when it was one of the host sites for the 1994 FIFA World Cup.

All that can be decided in the future. But for the present it’s important that the city and its leaders maximize these rare opportunities. Orlando is ready to explode onto the national and world sports scene. And a great working relationship with the NFL will be the key that unlocks several other doors.

The Tampa Buccaneers Mt. Rushmore

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers began their existence in the NFL in 1976, and went on to lose their first 26 games. It’s no wonder people referred to them as the “yucks”, instead of their abbreviated nickname the Bucs. However, the Buccanneers became the first expansion franchise in the era of the post AFL-NFL merger to win a division title, a playoff game and play in the conference championship game in the same season (1979).

But, that was short lived, as their losing ways returned and they suffered 14 consecutive losing seasons during the 1980s and early 1990s. That period helped them gain the draft picks needed to build the team that eventually turned them into a perennial playoff team and culminated with their only Super Bowl victory (XXXVII). In their 39 years, they’ve also won 6 division championships and made the playoffs 10 times, 7 of those appearances from 1997-2007.

Many of the players on that Super Bowl team, and contributed to the organizations great success, are still vividly remembered as their careers just came to a close within the last five to eight seasons. A few of those men are also on this list as being the Mount Rushmore for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

CRITERIA:

  • No owners, unless they were also coaches, and their place on this list is based on their contributions as coach. No General Managers or Personnel executives. Just those who directly affected the games on Sunday. I will make a separate list for those contributors soon.
  • Key contributors to the team’s history and success, not just fan favorites or box office draws.
  • Can you tell the franchise’s story without them? If no, they’re on the list.

Derrick Brooks (1995-2008) was the face of the Bucs team that won the franchise’s first and only Super Bowl (XXXVII). The 11-time Pro Bowl and 9-time All-Pro selection is Tampa Bay’s all-time leader in tackles (1,297) and forced fumbles (24). In 2002 he was named the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year and NFL Alumni Linebacker of the year. He’s a member of the 2000s All-Decade Team, Pro Football Hall of Fame (2014) and is only the third Buc to have his jersey number (#55) retired by the team.

Warren Sapp (1995-2003) is the Bucs all-time career leader in sacks (77), and was a member of the Super Bowl XXXVII Championship team. Sapp is a 7-time Pro Bowl selection and 6-time All-Pro. In 1999 he was awarded the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and is a member of both the NFL 1990s and 2000s All-Decade Teams. In 2013, Sapp was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Bucs’ Ring of Honor, and had his jersey number (#99) retired.

Leroy Selmon (1976-1984) is the first NFL draft pick in the team’s history. Selmon played in six consecutive Pro Bowls, and was a 5-time All-Pro. In 1979 he won the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year and Defensive Lineman of the Year awards. He is a member of the NFL’s 1980s All-Decade Team and the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1995). Selmon is the first Bucs player to have his jersey retired (#63) and in 2009 was inducted into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Ring of Honor.

Tony Dungy (1996-2001) wasn’t the coach of the team that won Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego, but he changed the culture in Tampa from perennial losers to champions. When he was fired by Tampa Bay in 2001, he was the all-time leader in victories with 54. Although the team won the Super Bowl the season after he was fired, fans and players largely credit him for their success.

There you have it Bucs fans. What do you think? Did I get it right? Or would you have gone with Ronde Barber? Mike Alstott? John Lynch? or someone else? I want to hear from you.

For The People of Central Florida, My Extended Family

Orlando will rise beyond the hate and live up to its nickname, The City Beautiful


“Hate will not define us. And hate will not defeat us, because we are one Orlando,” – Mayor Dyer.

I’m angry! I’m sad! I’m heartbroken and stunned. It’s taken me the last day and a half to get to this point where I could react in the only way I can, which is with my written words.

Orlando, Florida. The City Beautiful. The site of this weekends horrific tragedy, has a special place in my heart. It is my adopted hometown. And the place I hope to return and make my permanent home one day. 

I moved to central Florida in April 2007 for a better job, a chance at greater opportunities and to grow and see beyond what I saw in my birthplace of Columbus Ohio where I lived the first 26 years of my life. Central Floridians welcomed me and several of them selflessly helped me accomplish more than I had ever hoped for; from a chance to grow my career in the media, graduating from grad school and other personal achievements. In my four and a half years living there I found it and the people to be the most accepting and inclusive of anywhere I’d ever been. I assume it was the same for those who are apart of the LGBTQ community. I was able to grow from a 26 year old boy, who never lived on his own away from the nearby comforts of my family, to a 30 year old man who was better ready to handle the struggles life would throw me. 

But I don’t want to make this about me. I want this to be about the people of Orlando/central Florida. The friendly, lovely, kind and gracious people of “The City Beautiful”. The same people who will not allow this city to be defined by the deadliest terror attack since September 11th. This city and these great people, will rise up and band together like those in New York City did 15 years ago and remind the world what’s so great about their home. Our home. Central Floridians will remind everyone what’s so beautiful about the area and its people. This hate that has all of us shedding tears and at a great loss will only bond us together. We’ll all be stronger. United as the hashtag suggest. #OrlandoUnited. Hate won’t win. Love, peace and acceptance will. You watch and see. We are already seeing it in the way so many have come out in droves to donated blood for the wounded and other necessities, as well as lender their time to help and hug the victims families. And, there’s only going to be more acts of selflessness and kindness as time goes on.

I pray that the Lord brings peace, comfort and understanding to the families of the victims, the wounded and everyone affected. And that He also show us the way as a Country to keep senseless acts like this from ever happening again.

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me.” ~ John 14:1

“Be imitators of God, therefore as dearly loved children.” ~ Ephesians 5:1 

#OrlandoUnited outside the Dr. Philips Performing Arts Center in Downtown Orlando. Photo Courtesy: OrlandoSentinel.com