post

Despite Frost’s Departure, UCF is a Sleeping Giant

The past week has been an unbelievable roller coaster for the UCF Knights Football Program. Rumors of Scott Frost’s departure for Nebraska continued to mount on the eve of the AAC Championship Game against the Memphis Tigers. Following a thrilling victory in double overtime, the rumors became reality and the Knights were without a coach as they were extended an invitation to the Peach Bowl to play the Auburn Tigers on New Year’s Day. Despite what looked like a shaky situation, all signs point to UCF being able to continue their momentum and taking the next step as a football program.

As far as Group of 5 Programs, UCF has been one of the best programs since 2007. Thanks to Saturday’s AAC Championship game win over Memphis, UCF will earn their second trip to a New Year’s Six/BCS Bowl since 2013. UCF is the only Group of 5 program with that distinction. The Knights are one of 15 FBS teams since 2013 to play in multiple New Year’s/BCS Bowl Games.

Teams to Play in Multiple New Year’s Six/BCS Bowls Since 2013

5 Alabama
5 Ohio State
4 Florida State
4 Oklahoma
4 Clemson
3 Michigan State
2 Washington
2 Auburn
2 UCF
2 Baylor
2 Stanford
2 USC
2 Penn State
2 Ole Miss
2 Wisconsin

That’s a pretty special group of storied, big-time college football programs that UCF is a member of as well. From 2007-2016, the Knights have won 10+ games four times, played in seven bowl games while winning three. That’s a pretty good span of success over a ten-year span. Now insert a historic, undefeated 2017 season as the highest scoring team in the nation.

It’s been a storybook season minus the cloud of Scott Frost to Nebraska rumors that grew darker through November until becoming reality this past weekend. The news broke that Frost would be accepting the Nebraska job during overtime of UCF’s thrilling 62-55 win over Memphis.

Under normal circumstances, a fan base would be completely elated to celebrate their third conference title in five years. But this was not a normal circumstance. As much as fans were cheering, the mood in the stadium turned bittersweet as the video board focused on Frost, who was clearly trying to hold back his emotions. During this sequence, he exchanged a few words with outgoing UCF President, Dr. John Hitt in what I imagine Dr. Hitt was taking the time to express his appreciation for what Scott Frost did for the football program in such a short period of time.

By applying logic, Scott Frost cannot be faulted for taking the opportunity to return home to Nebraska to coach his alma mater. It’s a dream job. And while we found out in a story on Monday that the decision was much tougher than anyone thought it would be, Frost did what we expected by accepting the job to become the Cornhuskers next Head Coach.

Despite UCF fans being able to understand and accept Frost’s departure after only two seasons, it’s hard not to still be disappointed. For years I watched big-time Power 5 programs poach successful coaches from Group of 5 programs. It’s an unconscionable system that takes a coach from his team, usually before the big bowl game that getting to was the major goal of the season.

On top of that, it leaves the team in purgatory before the unavoidable process of starting over with a new coach, culture, and class of incoming players. It’s nearly impossible for a good Group of 5 program to sustain success due to inevitable departure of the coach for a bigger job with more money and resources.

Naturally, it’s easy for UCF fans to feel uneasy about the near future. In a way, it’s a Catch-22 because if the best case scenario occurs and UCF comes back strong, what is standing in the way of this process repeating itself within the next couple years? That’s a fair question.

The head coaching job was vacant for less than 72 hours as UCF announced the hiring of Josh Heupel, former Missouri offensive coordinator Monday afternoon. Heupel draws multiple similarities to Scott Frost. Both are former National Championship winning quarterbacks from the Big 12 who served as successful OC’s of major programs before taking the reins at UCF.

UCF athletic director Danny White deserves a lot of credit for not just acting quickly following Frost’s departure, but for working in a $10 million buyout into Heupel’s contract. Clearly White wanted to make a hire that appears to be a seamless transition on paper while doing what he can to prevent another quick exit (Frost’s buyout was $3 million).

UCF fans should be just as excited about the hiring of defensive coordinator Randy Shannon. Shannon recently held the same title with the University of Florida. In addition to Shannon’s credentials as a defensive coach, his recruiting connections to Miami, a historically talent-rich area cannot be understated.

The program has the right people in place to build off the momentum from this historic season. Former head coach George O’Leary did a tremendous job putting UCF on the map in from the mid-2000s before stepping down in 2015. Scott Frost became the first coach to take an 0-12 team to a bowl the following season in 2016, before following up with a 12-0 campaign this season. Now the program is in the hands of a well-respected coaching staff with great recruiting ties.

UCF may still be in the Group of 5, which can certainly be limiting considering their media revenue is roughly 10% of their Power 5 counterparts. Given what UCF has accomplished over the past decade, the size of the university, tv market and upgraded facilities, I have to think their time outside the Power 5 is limited.

It may not be until the early 2020’s until the realignment discussion creeps up again, as the end of the major TV deals draw close. At this rate, there is no question UCF will be one of the most attractive candidates to make the move to a conference like the ACC, SEC or Big 12. And based on what they have been able to accomplish with very limited resources in comparison to major in-state programs like Florida, Florid, and Miami, the sky’s the limit for what UCF can be once they finally get a seat at the table.

 

Source Credits: 

http://www.tampabay.com/sports/college/UCF-s-foes-in-AAC-title-game-Memphis-and-USF-hangover_163150368

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2017/12/02/frost-returning-to-nebraska-after-leading-ucfs-turnaround/108237108/

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/ucf-knights/knights-notepad/os-sp-ucf-josh-heupel-new-coach-20171205-story.html

Players Who Sucked This Week

Football

The Chicago Bears couldn’t get their run game going, managing just 20 yards on 16 carries along with a fumble – Jordan Howard finished with less than a yard per carry. Marlon Mack rushed six times for -3 yards. Total rookie move!

Deshone Kizer completed less than 50% of his passes and threw three picks, but I guess we can blame that on migraines. Blake Bortles continues to struggle as an NFL quarterback, turning the ball over three times and losing to division rival Titans.

Ezekiel Elliott was held to eight yards on nine carries. Fantasy owners were mad; Broncos fans and Cowboys haters were not.

Keller Chryst had a QBR of 4.9 with less than 100 passing yards and three turnovers. Stanford lost to San Diego State, then dropped out of the rankings. Conner Manning turned the ball over four times, but it’s a lot harder to play at Penn State when you’re Georgia State.

The Ragin Cajuns’ Jordan Davis was responsible for five turnovers against Texas A&M, not like they were gonna beat them anyway. Tyler Keane of Coastal Carolina completed 44% of his passes and threw three picks. Brandon Duncan of Arkansas-Pine Bluff three three picks en route to a 48-3 beatdown by Arkansas State. Darquez Lee of the Southern Jaguars started but couldn’t finish the game against UT San Antonio, completing only three of 13 passes with two interceptions. Bryce Rivers came in with a big league but had three turnovers, one being a pick-six. Rough week for the small schools.

Zach Smith and Baylor are winless after losing their first three games of the season, against teams they should’ve blown out. He turned the ball over four times in his first start, and their offensive troubles are going to make for a dreadful season.

Nevada are 0-3 to start the year, their latest loss against Idaho State. They lost to who you ask? Exactly.

Kent Myers was benched after going 9-28 passing for 54 yards and a pick. Think he’ll get the start next week? Doubtful.

Quarterback blues: Morgan State’s quarterbacks combined to throw 8-23 for 65 yards and four turnovers (3 interceptions).  I know they were expected to lose against a Division I school, but they should play a little better than that. Kent State’s combined for 117 yards on 17 throws – only seven of those were were caught, and one of those by the defense. And lastly, Rice’s completed 11 of 25 passes for 113 yards and an interception.

San Jose State had some bad luck to start the game against Utah. Sam Allen was brought in to replace Montel Aaron after a lack of offensive production cost him. Allen was much worse though, throwing two interceptions in only five attempts. He completed two passes for a measly 15 yards

 

Baseball

The Worst Player of the Week goes to Dylan Covey. In two starts, he gave up nine runs in 9 ⅓ innings, walked eight batters, lost both games, and now sits at 0-6 with a 8.18 ERA for the year. (More on that horrific second start later.)

Chad Bettis and Wade Miley gave Covey a run for his money as the worst. Both gave up five and six runs, respectively, before being pulled midway through the first inning. Strange coincidence both games were on the same day.  

Doug Fister and Matt Harvey were their own worst enemy twice last week, losing both starts with a combined 23 earned runs in 13 innings. Actually Fister lost his first one because his team bailed him out last night.

The weekly one-and-done’s: Gio Gonzalez, Max Scherzer, Sean Manaea, Carlos Martinez, Edwin Jackson, Jason Hammel, Jeremy Hellickson, Andrew Cash, Myles Jaye, Seth Lugo, and Erasmo Ramirez. Tyler Glasnow made his first start since June and the rust showed – five runs and six walks led to a 2-8 loss to the Brewers.

Travis Wood, Jose Valdez, and Cory Mazzoni combined to allow 16 runs in nearly 7 innings last Tuesday against the Twins. Then Jordan Lyles and Miguel Diaz followed suit by allowing 10 runs in less than five innings on Saturday. Mazzoni came into that game to surrender six more and wouldn’t you believe it, the Padres lost 16-0 TWICE in the same week.

Calling all relievers who can’t hold a lead or just make deficits worse: Matt Bush, Jacob Rhame, Chris Rowley, Brian Ellington, and Jesse Chavez. Francis Martes somehow managed to let four guys score without getting an out. Austin Pruitt and Chase Whitley combined to give up eight runs (five earned) in the 14th and 15th innings against the Red Sox Friday night.

Chad Bell, Warwick Saupold, Joe Jimenez, and Victor Alcantara combined to allow 15 of the White Sox’s 17 runs last Thursday. Dylan Covey, Chris Beck and Mike Pelfrey returned the favor Sunday night, losing to those Tigers 12-0.

 

Players Who Sucked Again

Joe Biagini would be a dishonorable mention for his eight-inning no decision, but he blew it Sunday night unable to escape the second inning before giving up six runs.

Before the Phillies starting annihilating the Marlins Thursday night I thought to myself, “Whenever Vance Worley is pitching the Marlins are at a great advantage to lose.” He didn’t even last two innings before giving up 9 runs.

Dishonorable Mentions

LeSean McCoy matched Howard’s terrible rushing performance on 12 carries (0.8 YPC), but he was the team’s leading receiver. The Bills’ offense was sad anyways, putting up 3 points against the Panthers.

Tanner Lee threw three interceptions, but ran for two scores. His late interception solidified Nebraska’s loss. Colgate’s Grant Breneman completed just 26% of his passes for 56 yards. However, he led his team in rushing with 68 yards on 14 carries.

Josh Allen couldn’t figure out Oregon’s defense, having a 38% completion percentage with two turnovers. But he did score the only touchdown for the Cowboys.

Nick Pivetta and Dan Straily started the week with bad starts, but made up for it last night.

 

*Stats week of 9/12-18

Photo Credits:
https://i.sportstalkflorida.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Blake_Bortles_disapointed.jpg
http://s1095.photobucket.com/user/isuagronomist/media/Baylor-1.png.html
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Pz8mclRmz-s/U1AYZ2hPHSI/AAAAAAAAAiM/NJg4X9oLsHI/s1600/Screen%2BShot%2B2014-04-17%2Bat%2B11.06.09%2BAM.png
http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/vance-worley-of-the-miami-marlins-reacts-after-walking-in-a-news-photo/806577390?esource=SEO_GIS_CDN_Redirect#vance-worley-of-the-miami-marlins-reacts-after-walking-in-a-run-in-picture-id806577390

post

Players Who Sucked This Week

Football

Greg Ward Jr threw four interceptions and accumulated zero rushing yards on 22 carries. The Herman-less Cougars got destroyed by San Diego State to end their season. What a disappointing way to end a once-promising year.

UCF nor Arkansas State could run against each other, both averaging less than a yard per carry. Central Michigan couldn’t do much of anything against Tulsa, getting blown out of the Miami waters 55-10.

Petty & the Jets could be a rempettyake of an Elton John classic, just a really bad one. His game ended with a crushing 1-2 punch thanks to his offensive line not even trying to do their job.  

The Vikings were blown out at home against a horrible Colts team. AP’s return was anything but great, gaining 22 yards after they fell behind early.

 

Hockey

Jaroslav Halak played in just one game, and that’s about all his fans wanted to see. Thomas Greiss was also a one-and-done, allowing five goals to the Blackhawks last Thursday. Jean Francois-Berube started in two games, and lost them both. You know what these guys have in common besides playing awful the last week? They’re all on the Islanders.

islanders

Ryan Miller lost two of his three starts, averaging 4 goals against per game. Jake Allen started three of the Blues four games this week, and they rightfully went to Hutton in last night’s game after Allen also averaged four goals against in each.

Jimmy Howard has lost his last four starts, and his last two have ended 1-4. Frustrations continued as their Monday night game against the Wild was postponed.

Roberto Luongo gave up too many goals in his two starts, losing both on the road.

Chad Johnson is not to be confused with the former outspoken NFL player, but they both have a problem blocking. This Chad gave up 4 goals in each start and is still the top goaltender for the Flames (because that Brian Elliott guy ain’t better).

 

Basketball

Jake Layman leads the list as the worst shooter of the week – he missed all 10 field goal a

"Don't miss, don't miss, don't miss..."

“Don’t miss, don’t miss, don’t miss…”

ttempts, seven being from 3-point range. And he made 1 of 2 free throws. No wonder he sits the bench.

Isaiah Canaan missed all three-point attempts, and went 3-14 overall from the field.

Denzel Valentine played like a rookie, going 4-15 from the field. But he did make all four free throw attempts; maybe he should draw more fouls? Aaron Brooks missed all six three-point attempts, and nearly fouled out in only 17 minutes of play against the Heat last Wednesday.

DeAndre Liggins must’ve lost his confidence after playing the Grizzlies twice, because he didn’t even attempt a shot against the Lakers. Which might’ve been a good thing because they won that one.

Darren Collison was quite atrocious shooting from the floor, missing 23 of 30 shots (6 of 7 3-pointers missed).

Mike Conley is rusty since coming off an injury, that’s for sure. His FG% was .217, he made 1 of 12 3-point attempts, and went 11-16 at the free throw line. I’m still baffled by his huge salary.

Some question marks should be added to those dolla bills.

Some question marks should be added to those dolla bills.

Players Who Sucked Again

rams

The Rams return for the fourth straight week! Now they did play at Seattle which is always tough, but this team is so bad. Not sure how much change firing Fisher will bring, but we won’t know til next year. At least they’re better than the Browns.

Brock Osweiler was finally benched after terrible play, and replaced by Tom Savage who led the Texans to a comeback win over the Jags. I wonder how much they regret overpaying him.

Pekka Rinne might’ve redeemed himself last night, but his first two performances of the week are good enough for me to put him in this lovable category. Calvin Pickard couldn’t do enough to get a win, losing all three starts with a 3.3 goal against average in that span. Anton Khudobin played in just one game again, and sucked, again. He’s having his worst year by far. Welcome back boys!

Andrew Harrison continues to be a regular on my list, after having an up-and-down week. He would follow up a decent game with a horrible one and continues to lack consistency. Fouling out in back to back games (Dec 14 & 16) doesn’t help his professional cause either.

 

Dishonorable Mentions

There were a few questionable calls by the NFL refs on Sunday. OBJ is so good, that refs called this a catch. Ed Hochuli is the most well-known referee, but even he is prone to making mistakes.

Meet Ed the Shred. Even he makes mistakes.

Meet Ed the Shred. Even he makes mistakes.

Matt Barkley put up a fight against the Packers, but turned the ball over in 4 consecutive drives. The first was meaningless, as it ended the first half. But he started the second half with a fumble, then back to back picks, all which turned into 17 Green Bay points. His attempt at a comeback fell just short.

John Gibson started the week off horribly, but bounced back in last night’s road win against the Maple Leafs.

Trevor Booker shot .250/.250/.444 (FG/3PT/FT) over his last three games, averaging 30 MPG. Eight fouls and six turnovers add to his not-so-hot week. Dario Saric also had a FG% of .250, but shot under .200 from long range and almost fouled out in one game.

Why did Jordan Reed even play this week? He was ineffective against the Panthers, was in obvious pain throughout the game, then was ejected for throwing a punch.

Got anyone to add? Write ’em in that comment box.

Stats week of 12/13-19

Photo Credits:
http://l.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/FIvIdCx3U1QgIYUwWSPrOg–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9ODAw/http://media.zenfs.com/en/homerun/feed_manager_auto_publish_494/8d39fe0e54d21e62c97c396f8d15704e
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/a1/ae/45/a1ae45b08fad0d044ee7022b35ed3c58.jpg
http://www.trbimg.com/img-5526964e/turbine/bal-maryland-jake-layman-returning-for-senior-year-20150409
http://gossiponthis.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/mike-conley-money.jpg
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/3c/7c/a2/3c7ca2f42e325012e444445e5d0aff31.jpg
http://www.sportspickle.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/a781ba9a19d45d93c20db83bf13bf89a.jpg

post

Players Who Sucked This Week

Football

Jay Cutler went back to being the guy we love to hate. He had 3 turnovers, completed 53% of his passes, and is now losing his teammates’ trust. Thank you for making my Bucs look good.

The entire Browns offense played at a high school level by  not reaching 150 yards and turning the ball over 3 times (all thanks to Josh McCown). Their season is looking more and more gloom, and they probably won’t win this year. First overall pick here they come!

Philip Rivers threw 4 interceptions in the fourth quarter, including 2 in the final 3 minutes of the game to seal the Dolphins win. He’s still the best option at quarterback for the Chargers who are having a very up-and-down season.rivers-fail

Hayden Moore and Gunner Kiel assisted UCF to its second straight win. Both threw an interception, Moore lost a fumble, and they combined to complete 45% of their passes. Moore is the better of the two, as Kiel can’t play well when he faces a halfway decent team. No really, look at his stats.

Giovanni Rescigno led a terrible Rutgers offense who failed to get on the scoreboard for the third time this season. And they are now second worst in the NCAA for offensive points scored. Can the Big 10 kick them out already?

Sean White completed just 6 passes in 20 attempts for 27 yards, while rushing for 3 yards in 4 attempts. All of this crap equated to a 1.0 QBR. Maybe everyone can stop thinking Auburn is a contender now?

Jeff George Jr had the worst first half performance of the year: in only 16 pass attempts, he completed 5 and threw 4 interceptions. He was replaced by Wes Lunt in the second half, but the game was already decided by then. After starting the last 4 games with a 40% completion percentage, he’ll likely go back to the bench.

Hockey

Antti Neimi played half a game against the Jets and matched Kari Lehtonen’s awful performance: both allowed 4 goals en route to an 8-2 loss last Tuesday. Lehtonen played better throughout the week, but Neimi wasn’t able to redeem himself.

John Gibson faced 36 shots and let 7 go by, being responsible for both losses. He was even pulled against Nashville before the 2nd period ended. His .806 SV% is the worst of this list.

Carter Hutton was credited with both losses this last week, and picked up where Jake Allen left off against the Blue Jackets.

Jaroslav Halak couldn’t handle the state of Florida, allowing 10 goals to the Panthers and Lightning and losing all 3 games. The Islanders currently sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a -11 goal differential.goalies

Stats week of 11/8-14

Basketball

Corey Brewer made only 1 shot in 18 attempts from the field, along with 7 personal fouls and 4 turnovers. And this is exactly why he plays back up.

Bradley Beal played in just one game, and only made 1 shot in 9 attempts in 11 unproductive minutes. The Wizards still beat the Celtics, and Brewer is happy to see a fellow UF alumnus on this list.

Tim Frazier has filled in for Jrue Holiday, and to nobody’s delight except his opponents. His numbers over the last four games: 31.3 MPG, .310 FG%, 3.8 RPG, 12 TO, 10 PF. But it doesn’t really matter, he’s on the Pelicans – they’ll be in the draft lottery when the season is over.

Stats week of 11/8-14

Players Who Sucked Again

My last two lists haven’t included anyone, so it’s nice to see players return to this prestigious section!

Brian Elliott: I’m not sure what’s more impressive, losing 5 straight games or having a .857 SV% in each of his last 2 games. As I said last week, this man is likely past his prime.

Ryan Miller hasn’t been great lately, but his team bailed him out Sunday against the Stars with an overtime win. He still gon make this list.

Dishonorable Mentions

Four players were terrible but rode their team to victory:
Willie Parker was a non-factor in EMU’s win over Ball State, rushing backwards 7 yards before fumbling the ball.
Jordan Davis of the Ragin Cajuns fumbled the ball on his only carry.
James Morgan on Bowling Green played like a freshman against Akron, completing 48% of his passes with an interception and rushing for negative 14 yards.
Jalan McClendon played sparing for the Wolfpack, but threw 2 picks in only 5 attempts.

Keon Howard, Southern Miss’s quarterback, threw an interception and fumbled 4 times. He had the most offensive yardage among his offensive teammates, but 5 turnovers doesn’t lead to a win.

 

Got anyone to add? Write ’em in that comment box.

 

Photo credits:
https://www.facebook.com/bleacherreport/photos/a.10150274478951006.330140.7331091005/10154517680746006/?type=3&theater
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/98/ee/0e/98ee0edf022c7440ee17f15abfa7c6f1.jpg