By: Mark Moore
As a crazed fan of the UCF Knights, the potential notion of elevation to Bowl Championship Series (BCS) status means a lot to me. Far too often, UCF students and alumni pledge their allegiance or show their support to our rivals within the State. Either someone had an Uncle that went to UF, or they drove through Tallahassee once and became a Seminole fan, or maybe they spent spring break in South Beach and bought a Hurricanes shirt. The aforementioned schools are all great institutions, but their paraphernalia does not belong on the backs of UCF students or alums. Whatever the excuse might be, I feel like a big part of that lack of school pride stems from our perceived "second tier" conference affiliation. Those "other" schools can all compete for a national title every year, but because of the way college football is set up, we know as Knights fans that our national title aspirations are far-fetched so long as we are outside of the exclusive BCS club. This flawed system tends to make even your most die-hard Knights fan feel like a second class citizen, rather than a proud Alumni and fan of the second largest university in the nation.
The bond shared between those who support the same team can be felt every Monday. The water cooler discussion in my office on Monday or just about any day revolves around game day. What happened? What will happen? What did Mike Bianchi have to say today? Why he is wrong? These are discussions that we have all the time, but of course, my company, Kavaliro, is a very Knight-centric firm. Our name, after all, means Knight, and we involve UCF in every aspect of our business. We donate, we volunteer, we support, and we involve our company and our employees (even those who did not graduate from UCF) in our passion. We see an amazing return for that effort, primarily because of the academic institution that UCF has become and the proud reputation that we have collectively built.
When I visit with a customer here in Orlando and their office is decked out in orange and blue and their desk comes equipped with a stuffed Gator, I mention with pride that I am a Knights fan. They know who the Knights are, and they usually respond with a sympathetic nod before we get back to business. When I speak to a customer out of state and tell them our story, a lot of them have never even heard of UCF. Facetiously I think to myself, "Why don’t they know that UCF is the academic equivalent of the Yale of the South?" and "Can't they see we should be the most feared up-and-coming team in the land?" Is it because we are outside of the BCS? I think that plays a big part. I look forward to the day when I can reach out to a customer across the country and have them immediately recognize UCF.
National recognition for our school means national recognition for our alumni and their businesses. It establishes creditability before you walk in the door or pick up the phone. Inclusion in the BCS can only be a good thing, and I'm crossing my fingers that it happens.