We’re back and here to get to our 2nd part of 3 to answer the question of who should the next conference villain for all of Houston Cougardom and even the AAC at large with the departure of the University of Connecticut officially earlier this week.
If you haven’t done so already, please check out the first part of our series where we cast a critical eye at the suitability of: USF, Wichita St, Temple, Navy, Tulane, ECU and Tulsa for nemesis status and rated them on the Dan Hurley Index (DHI) of sheer un-likability.
As a reminder the DHI is an extremely quantifiable metric that rates each current AAC member school on a 0-10 scale.
Everybody stay safe, enjoy your holiday weekend and let’s get to some hatin’!
Getting Warmer (6-9 on the DHI)
I want to get the niceties out of the way at the top here.
Specifically, I am not going to use this as a forum to mock UCF for claiming a 2017 National Champion, a claim no more ridiculous than a dozen programs’ title claims. Whatever you think of the legitimacy in either direction, the act of a controversial title claim is as part of the fabric of the sport as fight songs and the NCAA exploiting free athlete labor. And frankly how can any of us (I’ll except USF fans on this one) hate something that never fails to make any SEC fan spitting mad any time its brought up?
Nor am I going to lean heavily on the reputation of UCF fans on social media to use their fan allegiance in the same manner that Ghengis Khan used the hordes of 11th/12th century Asia.
Sure, some online UCF fans can be abrasive and have stunningly little ability to laugh at themselves. But honestly, that aggressive social media following was a not small part of the program staying in the college football consciousness after an incredible 2017-18 run.
What’s the incentive for being nice and staying quite as you watch your clearly excellent team not even be given token consideration for the sport’s postseason? Somebody needed to poke this sport in the eye repeatedly about that and UCF fans were more than happy to do. Bully on them for doing it.
But let’s circle back on something here. UCF fans have stunningly little sense of humor about themselves. Every fan base, including my alma mater’s, has a good number of people with a chronic inability to have an occasional laugh at their own expense. But that % of people is either much higher in the UCF fan base or those people are constantly name searching the school on social media. It could be either and I have no interest in doing enough George O’ Leary-related tweets to find out.
And let’s get to O’Leary, shall we? The Knights’ head coach from 2004-15 undeniably left the program better than he found it, with 3 double digit win seasons, a 2013 Fiesta Bowl berth and 2 top 25 finishes. He also oversaw a 2008 practice where UCF receiver Ereck Plancher collapsed and died, which led to a Florida jury awarding Plancher’s parents $10 million. You would think directly overseeing the death of a player would be enough to make O’Leary’s position untenable, but he coached at the school 5 more seasons after this verdict. That’s pretty unbelievable, and then I also remember THEY BUILT A STATUE OUTSIDE THEIR STADIUM FOR THIS TREMENDOUS ASSHOLE!
The vast majority of UCF fans certainly wouldn’t endorse any of the things O’Leary did, but if there’s been any serious introspection about this from that fan base I haven’t seen it.
The only reason anyone goes to Orlando for a vacation is they don’t have the imagination to do something more stimulating than Disney World. We have an enviable amount of natural beauty and great destinations throughout this country and yet annually millions of people spend lots of their hard earned cash to take a selfie in front of a pretend castle in an entirely fake park with hatefully bad weather 8-9 months a year. Couldn't be me!
Of all the destinations in the AAC I can’t imagine one I would rather live less than Orlando. At least most of the other larger cities in Florida have beaches and/or good food and entertainment options. I wouldn’t want to live permanently in Miami, Tampa or the Florida Panhandle, but I could craft a fun vacation at any of those places. I wouldn’t go to Orlando if you comped me for the entire trip. You mean I can have the suffocating humidity and shitty weather of Houston, without the great food and culture? SIGN ME UP!
The UCF football program had 2 winless seasons this century. Just accept it, be happy your current program is in great shape and stop getting mad any time one of us pokes you about it.
Finally, your stadium is an enormous pile of shit because you built it as cheaply as possible. Stop bragging about how the bleachers vibrate a bunch when people jump up and down. That’s like me being proud of owning a car that’s engine rattles when it gets up to 65 miles per hour.
Dan Hurley Index Score: 6.9
I still enjoy watching you guys make SEC/ACC fans mad Knights, please don’t use this as an excuse to unleash the full force of your twitter hordes on us.
In the last section about UCF I almost misspoke and said that fan base was the most humorless in the AAC, taking that title away from its rightful owner: the Cincinnati Bearcats.
I guess I’ll lead with the nice stuff for probably the last time in this preview series. For a school located in a decent sized city, UC has done an excellent job giving the area around the school a college town vibe that doesn’t feel artificial or forced. I’ve visited the area twice now in the last few years thanks to a family wedding in Dayton and going up for the 2019 UH/Cincy regular season hoops finale. The Clifton neighborhood of Cincy is pretty cool, and those aren’t 2 words I expected to ever say about something involving the city of Cincinnati.
The facilities are also pretty hard to fault. Nippert Stadium has one of the most unique designs in all of college football and ‘unique’ isn’t a euphemism for weird or bad. I don’t think there’s an AAC venue higher on my list to catch a game at than Nippert. Also, the newly-renovated Fifth Third Arena is a really good basketball venue. It’s a real trick to have a basketball venue with over 10,000 seats that still retains a somewhat intimate feel and Fifth Third absolutely does that.
Also, I wish you guys would just admit Skyline is garbage. Its tasty garbage that I would gladly eat a 2nd time whenever I return to the Queen City. But stop acting like it’s a good local staple. It’s the kind of thing a broke 23-year old guy with spaghetti, shredded cheese and grace C/D ground beef in his fridge would create. And there’s definitely a time and place for that, but don’t think we won’t roast you guys for this being your city’s lasting contribution to the culinary world.
The Oscar Robertson statue in front of Fifth Third is awesome. My father is a pretty cool customer and I could tell how much reverence he had for the Big O when we saw that statue while we were walking around the UC campus in the Summer of 2018.
Let’s get to the good stuff, though. There’s no fan base in this conference than name searches harder than Cincy, including UCF. I can make a mild joke about Cincy loss and set a timer and within 5 minutes there’s a guy named Chris or Matt who’s between 25-40 and wearing a Reds cap in his profile picture bringing up UH’s all-time record against Cincy in a completely different sport. Its just an unrelenting attempt to correct the record about something that didn’t need correcting. At least UCF fans will lob insults funnier than ‘Cougar High’ on occasion.
Its totally irrational, but I will hold Mick Cronin over UC athletics even after he’s been gone 10 years. I am not anyone’s definition of a basketball purist, but there was something just so fundamentally unpleasant about the Cronin teams’ style of basketball. A UC basketball game was a confirmed sentence of 40 game minutes of bricked shots and Cronin doing irreparable damage to the image of short adult men around the country.
Intentionally or not Cronin, had the look of a stepdad from a 90s movie who repeatedly tells the protagonist child “Hey Billy your mother and I think you should go out and play sports like normal boys.” Just a man perpetually on the verge of completely coming unglued at every annoyance. Can’t imagine why his teams played like complete dogshit in the increased pressure of NCAA Tournament games!
I have nothing funny or snarky to say about Luke Fickell or current hoops coach John Brannen. If anything, I’m intensely jealous at what a smart hire Fickell was for UC football.
Also, while I realize basically 100% of Cincy fans had nothing to do with this decision, putting Marge Schott’s name on your baseball stadium is quite the decision. Trust me, I understand not having the luxury of being picky about big money donations. But when the decision to name that stadium after Schott came in 2006, it wasn’t a secret that she was so openly racist that she was basically forced to give up ownership of the Cincinnati Reds in 1999. IT CERTAINLY WASN’T A SECRET IN HER HOMETOWN OF CINCINNATI! We can’t change the past, but I couldn’t believe until last month that a virulent racist like Schott still had college sport’s stadium named after her.
There’s no group of fans in the AAC more fixated on crowd sizes than Cincinnati fans. Which is odd, because pictures like these do in fact exist. If you care that much about the entertainment decisions of a different school’s fans, you’re the biggest dork alive and I’m sorry to be the one to break this news to you.
Dan Hurley Index Score: 7.2
I think Cougar/Bearcat hoops games have the potential to be the best rivalry the league has to offer on the hardcourt. Let’s try and keep it that way and please stop telling me Skyline is good.
Stay tuned for part 3 where I will get into the 2 remaining schools and air out all of real and perceived grievances with SMU and Memphis.