Per a reliable source, Boise St called UCF about setting up a home and home series after UCF’s 2017 undefeated football season.
UCF countered with one game in their home stadium in Orlando… and a 2nd game at a neutral site in Dallas, TX.
Boise St declined the counter offer, because… well, of course they would.
Why would Boise St travel the 2,608 miles from Boise to Orlando, FL, and then turn around and travel 1,607 miles to Dallas without UCF ever having to return the trip?
That’s what teams are dealing with by contacting athletic director Danny White to try and schedule Central Florida in football. The Knights don’t want to strengthen their schedule even against teams that they are fairly even with.
Is UCF on a different level than Boise St? UCF scoffs at big-time power 5 conference teams (actual big-time teams – not Maryland and Georgia Tech) for suggesting 2-for-1 deals, but then turns up their nose at the idea of playing Boise St, a team that has proven themselves on the biggest stages over the last 15 years.
I bring this up due to all of the talk about UCF turning down Florida’s 2 home games for 1 deal.
Florida makes a ton of money from their games in Gainesville, and they already have a home-and-home every 2 years with ACC rival Florida St, so just trading games with a G5 opponent in their own state wouldn’t make very much sense for them, especially considering Florida has routinely doubled UCF’s draw.
UCF, since 2015, has averaged 37,232 people per game, including not selling out either of the AAC Championship game appearances (both vs Memphis). They did average 44,018 in 2018, but as soon as they lose a game (they’ve won 25 straight), you have to wonder if attendance will drop off a bit.
Another report said that Florida wanted UCF’s home game to be at Camping World Stadium in Orlando (capacity 65,194) , rather than on-campus at Spectrum Stadium (capacity 44,206). Big time programs routinely do this – as Ohio St’s home-and-home with TCU was moved to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX this season, because it holds 80,000 people for football, as compared to TCU’s on-campus Amon G. Carter Stadium, which holds 45,000 for football. There’s not much difference in these two games, as Camping World Stadium is only 16.1 miles from UCF’s campus, while AT&T Stadium is 18.4 miles from TCU’s campus.
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville holds 88,548, while Spectrum Stadium in Orlando’s capacity is 44,206. Now, obviously, ticket prices vary (2018 UF vs Kentucky was $60, vs South Carolina was $70, vs LSU was $80, vs Idaho was $35), but we’ll just say that Florida’s home games vs UCF would be $50, the same as UCF’s ticket price for last year’s canceled Georgia Tech game.
Let’s say UCF’s ticket price is $50, and it just meets the all-time record at Spectrum Stadium – 48,453 people / tickets sold back in 2009 for a 27-7 home loss to Miami. At $50 a ticket, that’s $2,422,650 (or $2.42M for short) in ticket revenue for Central Florida. Now, obviously, they’ll have to pay Florida a portion of that, and it doesn’t include concessions, souvenirs, parking, tourism, etc.
For Florida, we’ll go conservative and say the game doesn’t sellout. This year’s South Carolina game drew 82,696, so let’s just guesstimate and say the UCF game would do 82,000 people (although I’m sure it would do more). 82,000 at $50 per ticket is $4.1M.
That’s almost $1.7M more in ticket revenue than Central Florida would make drawing the biggest crowd in their stadium’s history.
I have my own thoughts about UCF, and whether or not they should take the Florida deal, but there’s no doubt that it doesn’t make sense for Florida to swap home games with UCF, if for no other reason than the money doesn’t make sense.
The Boise St home-and-home is a different matter, getting back to what started off the article.
On the surface, that feels like it should be a no-brainer, and that UCF should absolutely play home-and-home with Boise St.
However, there are several mitigating factors surrounding the possible matchup:
- Boise St is not guaranteed to have a great team every year, so even playing home-and-homes vs smaller Power 5 teams might help UCF’s strength of schedule more.
- Even when Boise DOES have a great team, how much stock would a CFP selection committee put into a UCF win over another G5 team?
- Financially, a trip that far (2,600+ miles) might not make a lot of sense, especially going to play at a stadium that holds 8,000 people less than UCF’s own on-campus stadium.
While the matchup would be fun, and should be something that UCF maybe should have done, if for no other reason than to give them another legitimate non-conference team on their schedule, there are a lot of factors working against it.
Now, to be fair, in 2011 and 2014, UCF and BYU did a home-and-home, but neither team was on the level that UCF is right now. Obviously, UCF won’t be at their current level forever, because most teams don’t stay on such a hot streak.
UCF fans scream that the big boys are scared to play them, but that’s not really true either. A few years ago, UCF had no problem with playing one-off road games at Ohio St (2012), at Michigan (2016), etc, but now, they feel as though they “deserve” to be treated like a top 10 program.
The thing that’s working against the way UCF wants to do business right now are 2 things:
- The ACC teams that would be ok with home-and-homes with UCF have not been very good the last few seasons. (Maryland, North Carolina, Pitt, Georgia Tech)
- UCF, until this season, could not routinely fill up their own 44,000 seat stadium.
Until UCF proves that it truly belongs, the way that Boise St did back in the mid-to-late 2000s, they’ll continue to have to schedule Power 5 teams that the media / committee doesn’t respect.