Florida willing to schedule UCF
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Athletic Director Scott Stricklin would welcome a two-for-one series against in-state opponent UCF, which has the nation’s longest winning streak at 25.
“I’d be OK with scheduling them in the right situation,” Stricklin said Friday during a Peach Bowl event at Florida Field.
Florida and Central Florida last played in 2006, a 42-0 victory in the Swamp by the eventual national champion Gators. The teams had been scheduled to play again the following year, but UCF got out of the game and ended up paying a $100,000 buyout, according to public records.
Stricklin said he and UCF AD Danny White have not spoken about scheduling a game. “We haven’t had a spot where we thought this made sense at this point,” Stricklin said.
Many outsiders believed the 10thranked Gators (9-3) and seventh-ranked Knights (13-0) would meet in a bowl game this season, possibly in the Peach or Fiesta. But Florida ended up facing Michigan in the Peach, and UCF will play LSU in the Fiesta.
Many figured UCF football coach Josh Heupel had one of the toughest assignments in the country this season. The first-year coach was tasked with building on the Knights’ historic 13-0 run in 2017 led by previous coach Scott Frost.
Frost took the entire UCF staff with him to Nebraska and key playmakers, including emotional leader Shaquem Griffin, moved on to the NFL.
Heupel defied expectations and was rewarded for helping the Knights post a 12-0 record and win an American Athletic Conference title during his first season, inking a contract extension. Heupel’s new deal with the Knights runs through Jan. 15, 2024.
“I am truly honored to have the opportunity to lead this group of young men and represent this great university,” Heupel said.
If the schools were to play in the future, Stricklin said it likely would need to be a two-for-one series. Florida agreed to play USF in a similar setup, with two games at Florida Field (2022, 2025) and one at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium (2023)
White has made it clear he would prefer to schedule home-and-home series with Power 5 opponents because the school generates more revenue from a home game.
“We do home-and-homes with like FSUs and Power 5 leagues,” Stricklin said. “We haven’t done any home-andhomes with non-Power 5 teams. I don’t think we would start that. But I’d love to schedule [UCF] in a game.”
Stricklin laughed off accusations that he worked behind the scenes — he’s a member of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee — to prevent Florida from playing UCF in a New Year’s Six bowl because the Gators had more to lose than gain in a potential in-state matchup.
“If you win the game, it counts one win,” Stricklin said. “If you lose the game, it counts one loss. When I was at Mississippi State, they said don’t play Southern Miss. We played Southern Miss. They had the same argument.
Stricklin had to leave the room when the committee scheduled the Peach and Fiesta bowl matchups.
“People don’t know. They give me a lot of credit,” Stricklin said. “I have more power than I realize, according to them. People are going to say things when they don’t know what they’re talking about and that’s what happening there.”
Darriel Mack Jr. and UCF are hungry for more competition after 25 consecutive wins. A showdown with Florida might be in the works.