Sept. 23, 2011
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By John Denton
PROVO, Utah (UCFAthletics.com) - UCF Athletics Director Keith Tribble has a message for Knights fans worried about the program's push to land in an automatic-qualifier conference: Just because UCF isn't publicly pushing for such a move, there are still plenty of negotiations going on behind the scenes.
Tribble and UCF president John Hitt have been in discussions with key players from the Big East and Big 12 about expansion possibilities. They have also kept abreast of Conference USA's preliminary talks with the Mountain West about a potential merger that could earn the mega-conference an automatic bid into the BCS bowl games.
Whereas fellow C-USA members East Carolina and SMU have made public claims about it desires to land in another conference, UCF has chosen not to pursue that path. Tribble said such a move would be bad form and he's chosen to keep abreast of the conference realignment negotiations quietly.
``If they know anything about the history of Dr. Hitt and what he's done with our university, he's always put UCF first and we're following that same method in terms of how we're doing our business,'' Tribble said. ``We're doing our work and we'll continue to do it in a way that's fitting of our institution. We're people of integrity and we do things the right way. So those who think there aren't things happening or conversations taking place they would be wrong.''
Tribble admitted that all of the discussions, talk and speculation over which teams will end up where can be a bit consuming at times. He said that fans should know that UCF's many great traits are being pushed to the appropriate people.
``It's consuming for all of the ADs right now because it's something that came out of the blue. No one was expecting the move by the ACC and once that started the conversations with the Big 12 and the Big East, the whole snowball effect to form. But the bottom line is no one knows what's going to happen,'' Tribble said. ``Something might happen and something might not happen, but you've always got to be mindful of what's happening. We have to have conversations with my counterparts and other conference commissioners and get a sense of what's happening. Not that they will tell you, but at least we have to have those conversations. I spend a lot of time doing that, but it doesn't spend 100 percent of my time.''
SHORT WEEK STRUGGLES: With UCF playing back-to-back road games in South Florida and Utah, the pressures of travel have tested the UCF football team.
The Knights didn't arrive back into Orlando until 2 a.m. last Sunday following the FIU game, and took a four-hour flight from Orlando to Provo on Thursday.
The cross-country trip presented several challenges for UCF's equipment crew. Edwin Lopez and John Main took turns driving UCF's 18-wheeler equipment truck across the country, a trip that took 39 hours stretching from Tuesday morning to Thursday morning.
LOOKING AHEAD: With UCF's rise in power as a football program, scheduling top tier teams has become more and more of a challenge. BYU is scheduled to make a return visit to Orlando to face the Knights in 2014, a game that isn't likely to get cancelled because of the Cougars' desire to play games in Florida where there is a large contingent of fans with BYU ties and those practicing the Morman faith.
``Hopefully the series will be good for both parties and maybe we can extend it out in the future,'' Tribble said. ``BYU has tried to spread their brand out and Florida is a good place for them to do that, so why not come to Orlando and have their fans come too.''
Tribble said the difficulty in getting games with teams from the SEC, ACC and Big East have forced the Knights to look westward for opponents. UCF has refused to play series in which they are required to travel to an opponent's home twice in exchange for one game at Bright House Networks Stadium. Tribble said playing foes hailing from West of the Mississippi River is good for spreading the UCF brand - to a certain extent.
``One of the first things you have to do in games like this is win. That's important no matter where you are playing,'' he said. ``But being able to spread the brand and be somewhat national is important to the program. I wouldn't want to do a steady diet of these games, but maybe once every four years or so. But it's always nice to play these kinds of teams and we'll keep looking for these games that fit what we're trying to do and teams that Coach (George O'Leary) likes to play.''
ETC: Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer was a part of the UCF travelling party for the game as a guest of Dr. Hitt. Dyer sat with UCF fans and donned a UCF shirt for the game. ... Tribble said that UCF will soon announce future multi-game series against Maryland and Connecticut. Said Tribble: ``We're starting to get those teams to play home-and-home series with us. But we just have to keep working at (building the schedule). We're at the at middle stage where we're good enough to beat anybody in the country, but sometimes they don't want to take that chance of playing us. So we'll just continue doing what we need to do to be successful and hopefully (scheduling) won't be a problem.'' ... Former BYU All-American basketball player Jimmer Fredette attended the game Friday night. Fredette played a charity basketball game at BYU Thursday night along with seven other first-round draft picks of the NBA Draft. Fredette scored 27 points and handed out 10 assists in the game. ... In a classy pregame move, BYU's band played the UCF fight song prior to pregame introductions.
John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFAthletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at email@example.com.