Recognized as the "Voice of the Knights," Marc Daniels serves as the play-by-play voice on UCF football, men's basketball and baseball broadcasts on the UCF-IMG Sports Network. He also hosts the football and men's basketball coaches' radio shows. Each weekday, Marc hosts "The Beat of Sports" on ESPN 1080 in Orlando from 9-11 a.m. His From the Press Box columns run several times per month on UCFAthletics.com.
The fact that the UCF baseball team knew it was going to be in the NCAA Tournament during Monday's selection show was a sign of where the program has come from.
A lot of jokes begin with the term "Did you hear the one about...?" These days that term is often heard when it comes to conference movement. It's the story that never ends and the story that is never short on rumors, assumptions and at times misinformation.
Back on Jan. 16, Conference USA released the preseason poll of its baseball coaches who were asked to rank teams from top to bottom. Eight coaches voted Rice as the choice to win the league.
It sometimes can be hard to stand out on a campus with almost 60,000 students, especially when there's a good chance more than 30,000 are taller than you are.
When conference commissioners left Fort Lauderdale last week after three days of meetings much was known and more was not.
He walked on to the UCF football team, but the son of a UCF Hall of Fame member has more than earned the right to stand outside of his father's shadow. Billy Giovanetti is the Knights starting fullback.
The weekend began on Friday with the quickest UCF baseball game of the season. The Knights opened their big series with East Carolina by needing less than two hours to win a thrilling 2-1 game. But Saturday was filled with more than just a baseball game.
Donnie Jones did not sleep after UCF fell to Drexel last Wednesday in the opening round of the NIT. Jones chose to not dwell on what happened in the game but focus on the next season.
The goal of every college basketball team is to play in the NCAA Tournament. For the last three weeks of the season, UCF found itself part of the "bubble" talk of who might get in to the Big Dance.
Sure the madness of March is upon us, but spring football is right around the corner. And while we have not even played a down of the 2012 season, why not take a peak at 2013 and UCF's first season in the new BIG EAST.
When Mike O'Donnell approached me after he finished playing at UCF, he wanted to know my thoughts about getting into broadcasting.
Despite the sprinkling of rain, UCF's leaders and fans celebrated the expansion of the baseball complex over the weekend.
He rarely shows emotion on the court and yet his passion for the game is so obvious. Isaiah Sykes came to UCF as a raw, but talented, product from Detroit and appeared to be someone who could develop into a good college player.
UCF's main colors are black and gold. In Boise, the Broncos use orange and blue. For, Houston, it's red and white. In Dallas, SMU's colors are red, white and blue.
What is one to do about three hours before tipoff inside the UCF Arena before the Knights hit the court for another basketball game? You empty the mind of many thoughts.
To see Keith Clanton off a basketball court is to see a tall, laid back, easy going and funny student among 58,000 on the UCF campus. To see Keith Clanton on the basketball court is to see a talented, smart, and at times, dominating big man who has become a team leader whether he recognizes the role or not.
On the bus ride from Huntington to Charleston late Saturday evening, UCF head coach Donnie Jones looked at his assistant, Shawn Finney, and said "We had a chance, didn't we?"
As sports fans, part of what we do is debate. We argue with other fans about why our team won or how we could have possibly lost.
The last time UCF fans got to celebrate on Beale Street in Memphis it was New Year's Ever last year when the Knights defeated Georgia to win the Liberty Bowl.
Mention the Big East Conference Basketball Tournament and some of the great games, names, coaches and a location come to mind.
Rightfully so, UCF President Dr. John C. Hitt had a well-deserved smile on his face and a sense of accomplishment.
A UCF legend is back at a place he truly feels most comfortable. Hall of Famer Sean Beckton was a star on the field as a player when he caught 196 passes for just under 2,500 yards during his career as a Knight from 1987-90.
Assuming UCF will be playing in the same league in 2012, the Knights ability to contend for a conference title might come down to one position, not on UCF's roster but elsewhere.
It wasn't supposed to be like this. There was supposed to be a chance at another conference title and there was supposed to be a bowl game, if not in Memphis, certainly somewhere.
There used to be a television show called "Lost." That title may have been perfect to describe UCF's group of freshmen receivers when the year began.
Understanding the ever-changing dynamics of conference realignment can be quite confusing.
One play was all it took. One fake and run brought the much-needed flashback.
It wasn't supposed to be this way seven games into the season. But the UCF football team finds itself at a place where it must make a decision.
Swagger. Attitude. Focus. Mean streak. Whatever you want to call it, UCF's football team is now in search of it.
George O'Leary often says statistics are for losers. They are used as excuses if you don't win.
There is no question UCF would prefer to be 4-0 as conference play begins. But there are no do-overs in college football.
In the 24/7 news cycle we live in, the media has to fill all the hours, minutes and seconds between the games with something.
Football can be a game of inches and split-second decisions.
Some notes and thoughts after UCF's big win over BC.
You could feel it around the campus hours before and even after the game.
The player sits in front of a locker. His uniform is tailored to fit perfectly.
And so it is here. UCF's defense of a conference championship and a mission to prove last year's appearance in the national polls is the norm is about to kickoff.
Egg meet face. In the span of 48 hours the sports media covering, or those who wanted to pretend like they were, the story of Texas A&M and its possible move to SEC showed what is really wrong in the world of today's media.
When UCF finished the 2010 season celebrating its Liberty Bowl win, the school enjoyed its first national ranking in a final poll.
What makes sports so different than most things is the element of unknown. We watch because, unlike a movie, we don't know the ending.
It's the position that gets the most praise and the most criticism. It's where a split second decision can determine a win or a loss.
It is summer and most people would take a few weeks off to charge up the batteries for the start of the football season.
As sports fans we are obsessed with polls. We use them in many ways. We accept polls to tell us who the best teams are in some sports throughout a season.
Next to the final score, the most scrutinized number is the attendance at Bright House Networks Stadium for every home football game.
The art of scheduling in college football is a special skill.
As the athletic calendar moves towards July, a new season of memories awaits.
Conference USA has been sponsoring football since 1996. Only once has a team from the league run the table and post a perfect season.
When the final out was made in Tallahassee on Sunday and UCF's season ended with a 12-5 loss to Alabama in the NCAA Regionals, coaches, players and fans were disappointed the ride was over.
The wait was too long, but the UCF baseball team has returned to the postseason.
When he was hired as the baseball coach at UCF, Terry Rooney talked about taking his team to Omaha for the College World Series.
I love a great sports debate. What team is the best? What record will never be broken?
By the time the bus pulled onto the UCF campus, the Knights baseball team had turned its attention to the next game.
Playing a non-Saturday football game is not new to UCF.
During their time at UCF, Bruce Miller and Jah Reid rarely waited for instructions on where to go.
The night before UCF's Spring Game more than two dozen former Knights who either currently play or have played in the NFL gathered to be honored by coach George O'Leary and UCF Athletics.
If it's the weekend of the Final Four, it means it's time for the annual whine of many members of the sports media who stand on pulpits preaching that the magnitude of the event proves student-athletes should be paid.
It was a different view for Bruce Miller and Derrick Hallman. In years past, the two decorated Knights were often the ones who were first on the field and last to the locker room.
George O'Leary has always said a football team is as good as its senior class.
As the clock moves forward spring means football. It also means postseason basketball, baseball's continued homestand and it also means lots of pollen.
The months became weeks. The weeks became days. The days became hours. The hours became minutes. And so it was time.
As he stood atop the courtside table celebrating with the black and gold faithful, A.J. Rompza soaked up the moment and he had a right too. It has been a rough ride over the course of the last few months for UCF's junior point guard.
It has been one of those weeks that happens a few times per year.
Coming off its most successful season in school history, UCF's football team has its sights set on keeping the momentum rolling in 2011.
When the plane touched down in Orlando Sunday morning it was routine for the UCF men's basketball team.
As the UCF men's basketball team battles through its rough road of late, there is a very talented, big, physical, athletic player who can dunk, shoot, defend and play three different positions if needed.
It is a busy time for Knight Nation these days. Football heads down the stretch towards Signing Day.
It was not a question of if, but a question of where when it came to the ranking for UCF in the final college football poll.
The continuous story in college sports may be conference movement, but don't kid yourself.
I have seen it too many times. I have witnessed too many unhappy endings. After all, UCF is not supposed to win these games, right?
Another chance awaits today. Another opportunity to beat a traditional power. Another chance for the program's first bowl win. A chance to win an 11th game and likely position the team for a preseason top-25 ranking for next season.
Their work is far from done, long after the players leave the practice field. They spend hours and hours breaking down film and developing a game plan.
Ask senior linebacker Derrick Hallman when he knew 2010 was going to be a special year for UCF and he remembers the exact moment.
It's the play that makes fans hold their breath. It's the moment when something electric can happen. It's the time in a game where momentum can shift from one sideline to the other sideline.
For some it will be the final time they put on a uniform. For others, there will be a chance to play at the next level. But for the group of seniors playing their final game as a UCF Knight, it will be a moment to remember.
This one just felt different for many reasons. In previous games in which a UCF team was facing an opponent in "one of those" games, there was more a sense of hope than a sense of expectation.
With chestnuts roasting on the open fire and jack frost nipping at our nose, we take a moment to look back at a great year to remember in UCF football history.
George O'Leary and his team set goals every season. This year O'Leary knew the Knights could have a special season. Led by a core group of seniors, the coach felt their leadership could be the difference. Coach was right.
In the Football Bowl Subdivision, or as you like to say Division I-A, there are only 10 teams that get to play a 13th game. Five conferences have league title games.
I am not afraid to admit it was fun to watch UCF score early and often and roll to a blowout win in New Orleans against Tulane. It was the perfect game for the Knights after the loss to Southern Miss.
No one said winning a conference title was simple. It is supposed to be a journey that challenges a team so when the goal is reached the reward is even more satisfying. UCF is about to face the next challenge in that journey to win a title. Football legends tell you that you need to battle, overcome and hurt a little to get that title.
Before the season, when a UCF fan looked at the schedule, they could see a challenging three game stretch that likely would determine if the Knights could win a spot in the conference title game.
UCF cannot win the conference championship with a win at Houston Friday. UCF cannot clinch the east division of Conference USA with a win at Houston. But don't think for a second that Friday's game is not the next "big game" for the Knights.
Texas in 2007,USF in 2008, Miami and Houston last year and Tulsa, in the conference title game back in 2007, may have been the biggest and most anticipated games in the young history of Bright House Networks Stadium. Now comes a new anticipation. Now comes a new challenge. Now comes the two-time conference champions into UCF's house with title implications.
UCF is more than ready to play a game. It seems like months have passed since that game at Kansas State. Players are anxious to get the bitter taste of the loss in Manhattan out of their system. But just when you thought things might get easier, UAB has come to life.
Some say it is easy to look back. Really? Ask the UCF football team to look back and most would tell you it is too painful. Painful because there are too many quarters, drives and plays to relive and too many thoughts about how the outcomes might have been different.
I have such fond memories of my last visit to Manhattan, Kan. Back in early January 2003, the UCF men's basketball team played at Kansas State. I drove through, what I believe most call a blizzard, from Kansas City to the campus in the town known as the "Little Apple."
There are many ways to look at Saturday's game versus NC State. One way is that when a team commits five turnovers, converts 1-of-11 third downs and commits costly game-changing penalties, that team likely loses by four touchdowns. Another way to analyze the game from a UCF angle is that the Knights battled back from a 21-point deficit and had a chance to tie the game and perhaps pull out a dramatic win.
In a contest the Yankees and Red Sox would be jealous of due to the quick pace of game, UCF cruised to an opening day victory over South Dakota, 38-7, Saturday at home. There was much to like and many players got in the game. That was then and this week is a different class of opponent. No disrespect to the Coyotes, but while they were waiting in long lines at our wonderful theme parks on Sunday, George O'Leary and his team was locked in on preparing for the season's first big test, NC State.
And so it begins. A new season of UCF football is upon us. A new chapter of history is about to be written. New stars will emerge and for 18 seniors this is a final run with a goal of a winning a conference championship and giving UCF's its first bowl win.
When word spread that Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky and his Mountain West counterpart, Craig Thompson, met in Colorado Springs last Thursday headlines talked about mergers, play-in games, television deals and I am pretty sure they talked about government subsidized health care, energy alternatives and whether to send a manned shuttle to Mars. At least that's what some people thought.
The calendar shows less than three weeks before the opener and the UCF football team might feel like it's time to start hitting someone else. However, UCF coaches would say that there's much work to be done. But after a dozen workouts that have included everything from scrimmage segments to hitting a tackling dummy (no, they were not hitting me) it is time to look at what we've seen.
Together they will combine for no touchdowns, no yards rushing or receiving and when you hear their numbers announced inside a stadium, it is not for something good. It means they made a mistake. Yet, if UCF is to have a big year, they are two of the most critical pieces on a team with big expectations.
Football is back.
Two-a-days are on the way. Freshmen will emerge. Depth charts will be adjusted. The wait is over. The college football season is here.
If you don't think a preseason ranking has value in college football, then you don't know the system of college football today. It matters, whether it is fair or not, that what others think about you goes a long way in how a season may go.
For over a week, LeBron James had the sports world wrapped around his finger. His every move was covered by a media that simply went with any rumor as fact. In the end, James chose to play for the Miami Heat and the City of Cleveland was hit in the gut as their homegrown King suddenly was gone.
The last time Daunte Culpepper left the Citrus Bowl field he walked off as an All-American. He shattered the UCF record book in almost every category. He helped put UCF on the college football map and to this day is the greatest UCF student-athlete I have ever seen. He was more than just a talented quarterback.
Last week it became official. UCF and Florida will play the first college basketball game at the new Amway Center on Dec. 1. Florida Citrus Sports, the group that hosts both the Capital One and Champs Sports Bowl, has gotten back into the business of putting on college basketball games. Kudos to chairman Steve Hogan, a UCF alum, for believing in his alma mater.
In 2005, Conference USA hired college athletics consultant Chuck Neinas to assist in regards to expansion. When the last wave of conference changing took place, no one took a hit as big as C-USA. The conference saw several members exit. The shakeup gave UCF the chance to enter the league.
These days when athletes with to discuss something to the media, it usually is some sort of admission. It usually follows the storyline of remorseful player shedding tears while speaking softly and asking fans to understand.
The first thought about how the Scarlet Knights and UCF are connected likely has you thinking about conference expansion and that if the New Jersey based school bolted to the Big Ten what that might mean for UCF and the BIG EAST. But this is not about the unknown world of who is moving from what league to what league.
There is no shortage of opinions, projections and out-of-the-air guesses in regard to conference expansion. And while much of our attention is on UCF, other Conference USA schools are getting support about how great their school is.
At the recent BCS meetings, conference commissioners gathered to discuss many items. However, media covering the event only wanted to hear from one man, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney.
The most common question asked before and even after Saturday's spring football game was, "how do they look?" Well, everyone looks great in March and April. But there are signs from UCF's spring practice sessions that the 2010 Knights could be very good.
If UCF and Marshall were not the best of friends before, how do things stand now? There is no doubt the fan fever will hit new heights with Donnie Jones leaving Marshall to guide the Black and Gold basketball team.
A year ago this time, Quincy McDuffie could not have been further from a football field and certainly was not catching passes. McDuffie was instead blazing down the track at Edgewater High School on the road to winning a district and regional title in the 200 meters. His 20.98 time set a conference record.
Chris Duffy is not having a good season as UCF's left fielder. Chris Duffy is not having a great season. Chris Duffy is having something beyond amazing right now. He doesn't just lead the team in every offensive category, he leads the nation in just about every batting statistic you can think of.
You know it was a long week when I woke up the other night and truly had to think about what town I was in. But thanks to a few extra flights and plenty of time to think, we deliver some nuggets from the week that was.
With his Hollywood looks, Taylor Young strolls through an airport with a few travelers wondering if he is someone famous. A.J. Rompza usually takes care of that by telling most that there is another famous player on the Knights. For Young, the spotlight is something he does not seek and he would tell you it shouldn't be shining on him. But then again, Young has been modest his entire time at UCF because he has been the ultimate team player.
Exhausting. Draining. Emotional. Mind-boggling. Never-ending. Dramatic. Crushing. Memorable. And I didn't even play. But those are just some of the words that come to mind when looking back at Saturday night's game in Huntington between UCF and Marshall. UCF did not win and the loss was painful because of the effort. But in my 20-plus of broadcasting games, it ranks among the best I have witnessed.
If you have ever played the game Jenga then you know the premise is to carefully slide a small wooden block off a tower of similar wooden blocks and carefully place it on top of the tower. If the block you choose to slide out leads to the tower to fall and collapse, then you lose. Except when UCF plays the game in relation to recruiting. In this version, they win and perhaps they win really big.
Meet UCF freshman forward Keith Clanton and it's easy to became a fan. Clanton laughs, smiles, even sings (although teammates might question calling it singing). You get a sense Clanton is just a nice guy who happens to play basketball and is very good at it.
He is the son of the most famous basketball player ever. Now that we have taken care of that, Marcus Jordan is indeed another one of the young players on Kirk Speraw's team.
It is gameday and UCF and Rutgers get set to square off in the 2009 St. Petersburg Bowl.
While the 2009 Knights prepare for their bowl game against Rutgers, preparation for the 2010 season is already underway.
When Rocky Ross plays his final football battle as a UCF Knight he will log his 54th game. Over his five seasons at UCF, the Jacksonville product has become one of the more reliable receivers in recent years.
With one simple statement the college football landscape is now on notice. The Big Ten Conference sent out a memo that the league is going to explore options regarding expansion of membership from 11 to 12 teams.
Tis' the season. The holidays are here and everyone feels just a little bit better. Football Santa rewarded us with a bowl game within driving distance. But the week is filled with plenty for UCF fans to attend, cheer and celebrate.
He had a vision that someday the football program would be one of the showcases for a university growing faster than any other in the country. Along the way he crossed those who bought into the dream and plenty who said it would never be more than a dream. But a bowl win on Saturday might be special to all UCF fans, but one Knight fan might enjoy it just a little more.
We can all admit that we thought about it. We can all admit it had us pulled both ways. But in the end it feels like all worked well. When it became apparent that UCF was headed to the St. Petersburg Bowl the question became who would be the opponent. The candidates included UConn, Rutgers, Pitt and USF.
You could not find five, four or three stars next to his name on recruiting lists when he was a senior at Vero Beach High School in 2006. Ronnie Weaver was not the back everybody was calling on. No, he was just a guy who loved playing football and hoped there would be somewhere he could play at the college level.