I went to my first UCF home game at the new stadium yesterday, and I’m a little disappointed at the experience. There was plenty of cool tailgating going on, and there are a lot of new shiny buildings out there which were really nice too. Shiny things withstanding though, I’d rate it a mediocre experience for a few reasons.
- Fan involvement – While I was sitting in the USF side of the field, I swear the USF fans were much more involved in the game than UCF fans were. Those fans know all of the songs, word for word, and they belt them out with full force. By contrast, the only time our fans started to act half as involved, was when it looked like we had a shot to win.
- Fair-weather Fans – with about 12 minutes left in the 4th quarter, a lot of UCF fans gave up, and started leaving. Of course, this was much to the delight of the USF fans, who started chanting “Where You Going?”. If our team has any shot of being successful (more on that in a bit), then our fans have to start acting the part. I suspect many are waiting for a successful team before they start rooting for us. That’s a bad attitude to have, and I suspect your life would reflect poorly if you carried that attitude at work, or at home.
- Fan belligerence - I was attacked by a UCF fan when I was walking out of a Porto-Let. The guy had me confused with someone else, and as I opened the door, I got punched in the face. I’m not a small guy, so the guy doing the punching must have had a hell of a lot of liquid bravery. I wrestled him to the ground and pinned him, pleading him to stop. After a minute of futile squirming to escape, he gave up. However, as soon as I let the guy up, he was screaming obsenities at me. He just had his ass handed to him (and I didn’t hit him at all), and he was still ready to fight.
- Undisciplined Players – I thought George O’Leary was some kind of disciplinarian. Watching the game last night, you wouldn’t know it. While I’ve heard some guys say that the refs were making bad calls, most of the calls I saw were completely legit. Our players were making some of the dumbest penalties I could think of, and it cost us the game. I might have sympathy for that sort of thing on the first game of the season, but not the second. I’m especially disappointed to see that sort of behavior against a team we lost severely too last season. I thought we were supposed to be the cleaner smarter team?
So, while the tailgating is excellent at UCF, the game leaves a lot to be desired. UCF fans were largely uninvolved. The most involved fan I saw all day, I had to pin his head to the ground to make him stop. That sort of behavior carried on to the field, were we might as well given guns to our players, so they could try to rob USF players.
I’m not usually one to play Chicken Little, but I really think someone should be putting the pressure on O’Leary regarding the penalties. There’s no excuse for that sort of thing. If our players are outmatched, and we lose, that’s one thing: Playing dirty football is another. I’m quite ashamed today, even if we did almost win.
My buddy Alex has a good review of the game on his amazingly awesome UCF sports site, UCF Insider.