Dan Mullen says Florida’s two-for-one series offer would be a ‘big deal’ for UCF

By Drew Laing
December 14, 2018
Dan Mullen says Florida’s two-for-one series offer would be a ‘big deal’ for UCF
Football

Image Credit: ESPN Images

In a war of words, many of which have run hollow from one side, it was Florida Gators head coach Dan Mullen who fired the latest and most clear shot. Speaking with Tampa Bay Times‘ Matt Baker, Mullen on Friday referred to Florida’s two-for-one series offer to the UCF Knights as a “good deal” for the AAC program.

“I think we offered them a two-for-one like we do with most schools in their position, which is actually really a good deal,” Mullen said. “They have the opportunity to have an SEC school play at their place. It would potentially be a big deal for them. I know I’ve done it that way. … If they want to try and toughen their schedule, that would be great, a good opportunity for them if they want take it. It’s up to them.”

This comes just two days after UCF athletic director Danny White criticized Florida’s offer during an appearance on ESPNU Radio on SiriusXM.

“We’ve accomplished a lot,” White said. “We’ve won two New Year’s Six bowl games in the past five years, and we’re about to play in our third. We don’t need to be playing two-for-ones. I don’t think anybody in our position in college football would agree to do a two-for-one, unless it was in our favor.”

What UCF has accomplished in the last two years must be recognized as an impressive feat. There aren’t many Power Five schools finishing with undefeated seasons, let alone back-to-back undefeated seasons. Under the current setup, a New Year’s Six bowl game outside of the College Football Playoff is about the best the Knights can hope to play in unless they or the CFP make a drastic change.

It’s clear the Gators have all of the leverage in this verbal back-and-forth. Of course, White will stick up for his program and continue to frame it as one of the best in the country given the team’s recent success. And those calls from White will only strengthen if UCF can earn a Fiesta Bowl win over LSU.

However, the reality is that — whether White likes it or not — UCF will not find favor with the CFP Selection Committee until it drastically increases its strength of schedule. For that to happen, White will need to swallow his pride somewhat. Two undefeated regular seasons — no matter how impressive — simply does not put UCF on the same level as a top-tier program like Florida. White previously claimed that “top 10 programs” do not schedule two-for-ones where they are at the deficit; the problem is that while UCF has legitimately been a top 10 team the last two years, that does not make it a “top 10 program” nationally nor anything close to it.

Mullen and Stricklin are right. The opportunity for one of the SEC’s best teams to come into Orlando for a true road game would certainly help UCF overcome its current scheduling hurdles and provide both a big gate and national spotlight for the program. If the Knights need to play two road games for that to happen, so be it; they will get three games against the Gators and three opportunities to make a statement nationally.

It’s likely Florida and UCF won’t come to an agreement anytime soon, especially given White’s attitude … unless he and UCF realize that it’s those two-for-one series against schools like Florida that will ultimately help their program gain more respect on a national level.

One thing is clear: The ball is in UCF’s court and Florida has won the public relations battle here after being falsely accused of “dodging” the Knights due to alleged backroom dealing during the bowl selection process. The Gators have no reason to budge on this and will continue to have all of the leverage, especially if Florida keeps improving on the field and returns to playing the way its “top 10 program” status demands.

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