George O'Leary would be quote alright with you being a part time fan of UCF, if you'll only come to the games at the new Brighthouse Stadium. While UCF has been rumored to be a possible expansion candidate for the Big East, many outside of the Orlando are wonder how strong the devotion to UCF is in a state that already boasts four BCS automatic qualifying conference teams. How many people, even the ones that went to UCF, have a primary or sole devotion to UCF? The answer appears to be less than one might think. Or else, why would George O'Leary be doing this:
This year, head coach George O'Leary has a new plan to fill BHNS: invite the enemies and create hybrid fans. "You should be a Gator-Knight," O'Leary told an audience at the Rotary Club of Orlando.
"If the Gators aren't playing, we're the hometown team. I'm not telling you -- don't root for your team... But, Seminole-Knight, Hurricane-Knight. Support your hometown team."
The Knights have only been a Division-I team since 1996 and are playing 'catch-up' in several regards in comparison to the major football programs in the Sunshine State, especially the 'tradition' category.
"We've come a long way in a short period of time, we really have," said O'Leary in front of a crowd of about 75. "But, you have to get behind your hometown team."
This is the kind of statement that UCF detractors (like myself) will happily hold on to for future reference. It was just recently that Public Policy Polling conducted a poll that declared UCF the third most popular college football team in the state of Florida. A poll that Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi has used as justification for the Big East kicking out USF in favor of UCF, and the SEC booting Vanderbilt for the same. Mr. Bianchi, if the Knights aren't selling out their new stadium and have to ask people to be part time fans of UCF football, perhaps they're not quite as popular as you think.