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‘It’s a precedent I don’t like being set in our conference.’ UCF AD on USF’s deal with UM

In this Dec. 5, 2017, file photo, Josh Heupel, right, is introduced as the new Central Florida head football coach by Danny White, UCF Athletic director in Orlando, Fla.
In this Dec. 5, 2017, file photo, Josh Heupel, right, is introduced as the new Central Florida head football coach by Danny White, UCF Athletic director in Orlando, Fla. AP

The University of South Florida locked up a future 2-for-1 deal with the University of Miami, a decision that didn’t sit well with the Bulls’ in-state conference rivals, UCF.

Fans of the Knights took to social media to explain how USF’s 2-for-1 choice, rather than a home-and-home deal UCF is after with Power 5 programs, was hurting UCF’s scheduling vision of having an equal, 1-for-1 exchange with a Power 5 opponent.

Now UCF athletic director Danny White has weighed in.

Appearing as a guest on Orlando radio show, “Open Mike,” on 96.9 FM, White explained UCF’s scheduling and discussed USF’s 2-for-1 deals with Miami and Florida in relation to UCF.

“It’s opposite our scheduling model. We’re scheduling the way we schedule to build our season ticket base, our revenue, build our budget and build our fan base,” White said on the show Thursday.

White continued, throwing some shade at USF’s home game atmosphere, since the Bulls play at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, where the Buccaneers play their NFL home games.

“They have a different set of circumstances,” White said. “They obviously don’t have an on-campus stadium to play in. It’s a big NFL stadium, which provides a different dynamic for the schools that will go in and play there. Probably not as much of a road game as it would be in our stadium, obviously.”

However, White did continue saying he wouldn’t criticize USF.

“I don’t know what I would do if I was in that (AD) chair,” White said. “(USF AD) Michael Kelly and I talk about a lot of different things ... I’m sure that gate is meaningful for them for that single-game sale for those games. It’s a precedent I don’t like being set in our conference for schools to start doing a lot higher volume of 2-for-1s. We haven’t as a conference been that kind of place. We’ve been successful, historically, of getting home-and-homes with Power 6 opponents, and I’d like to see our conference peers continue to do that as we intend to do.”

The American Athletic Conference has branded itself as part of a Power 6 along with the traditional Power 5 conferences (SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12). UCF has led the charge for inclusion in college football’s playoff the past two years, going unbeaten through its conference championship game the past two years.

In the 2017-18 season, the Knights defeated Auburn to win the Peach Bowl and cap an unbeaten season, and fell to LSU in the Fiesta Bowl to end their long winning streak to end the 2018-19 season. In both years, the Knights were not part of the CFP, and White said Thursday on 96.9 FM that being one of the four teams included in the playoff is not a reality for AAC teams.

USF’s games with Miami are for 2025, 2027 and 2028. The 2025 and 2028 games are scheduled for Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, with the 2027 game at RayJay in Tampa.

Sports reporter Jason has covered high school, college and pro sports since joining the Bradenton Herald in 2010. He’s won Florida Press Club awards for sports feature and column writing. He currently writes college and pro sports stories for the McClatchy East Region real-time team.
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