The last two weeks have not been great for UConn fans. Sure, we got the visceral thrill of replacing Paul Pasqulaoni in mid-September, but were promptly hit by the cold reality of losing to a USF team that could not manage an offensive touchdown followed by a blowout loss to Cincinnati. Those losses were frustrating, but at least there was a familiarity to them. We know USF (losers) and Cincinnati (slightly-more-successful-at-not-losing-losers), and for better or worse they're our losers. We're stuck with them and we've gotten to know, and maybe even dislike them over the next decade.
But starting on Saturday UConn is entering uncharted territory by playing new members of the AmeriCon for the first time, and well, that can be taxing on a fan. First of all, there are new players and coaches to learn about, which is territory I'll leave to others. What I'm more concerned about is getting to know the schools for what they really are: giant institutions with plenty of embarrassing history. I want to make sure that good UConn fans like you or I have all the ammo you need to mock our new rivals, which is why I'm happy to introduce a new series here on the blog: Welcome to the Hateborhood, a chance to meet our new playmates and discover why we should immediately dislike them.
Welcome to the Hateborhood will run every week before we play a new conference foe, and since the Huskies are headed to Orlando this weekend our first school is the University of Central Florida Knights. Enjoy.
UCF's creation was authorized by the Florida legislature in 1963 and the school opened in 1968 (they have 1963 on the seal though, because naturally). It was originally called Florida Tech, and was created with an eye toward producing more engineers to work at NASA, because apparently no one considered asking astronauts if they'd be comfortable flying in something built by a UCF grad (spoiler: most people wouldn't be comfortable in a go-kart built by a UCF grad).
UCF is the second-biggest school in the country with more than 60,000 students. That puts them right behind Arizona St., but honestly, I think it is more impressive that they've been able to find and admit all of the 60,000 kids in Florida who scored under 1000 on their SATs.
Also, because of the whole NASA thing UCF claims to be a "Space-Grant University," which is so much of a joke I'm moving right on to the next paragraph.
Alright fine, "Space-Grant University" cannot be left uncommented upon, so here you go: UCF calls itself a "Space-Grant Univeristy," which I assume means that every class is taught by a 1930's news-reel voice-over man whose every sentence ends with "IN THE FUTE-CHAH."
Anyway, as I mentioned up top, UCF's mascot is the Knights, but that's actually just the mascot for athletics, and not the entire university. The university claims Pegasus, which is funny because it means someone didn't read the part of the Pegasus legend where Bellerophon tried to fly Pegasus to the top of Mount Olympus, only to fall off, plummet back to Earth, and live out the rest of his life as a blind, crippled hermit. Looked at in that light, Pegasus makes more sense as the mascot of USF, but no one ever said Florida as going to be logical.
Speaking of mascots, UCF wasn't always known as the Knights. When they opened up in 1968 they started off as the Citronaughts. What's that, you've never heard the term Citronaught before? Well then you clearly don't spend enough time daydreaming about a weird hybrid of an orange and an astronaut. Yes, you read that right. Their original mascot was an orange wearing a space suit. It's basically what Syracuse's mascot would be if upstate New York hadn't had a law banning the scientific method for the past 137 year.
Anyway, the Citronaught proved itself so popular that in 1969, a year after its inception, the student newspaper decided to replace it. UCF, as a community -- and I wish I was joking here -- settled on a character they felt was a much better representation of the school: Vincent the Vulture. Really.
Why was Vincent the Vulture? Because the campus was constantly being circled by vultures. This team is in first place in our conference by the way. Shoot me.
To be fair, it could have been worse. UCF's website lists some of the other proposals: Mickey Mosquito, the Fruit Flies, and the UCF Tourists. So in settling on the vulture the school was at least smart enough to reject A) blatant copyright infringement, B) a revolting pest that is attracted to rotting fruit, and C) a nickname that is somehow lamer than the Citronaught. Good job, good effort UCF. I never thought I'd say this, but I honestly miss the days when I was mocking St. John's for considering using "Stormy the Red Storm Bear" as its mascot.
Anyway, UCF eventually settled on calling themselves the "Knights of Pegasus," which, despite the whole "plummeting back to Earth" bit of the Pegasus story, is not a horrible name. (Aside: for a time they nicknamed the knight "Sir Wins-A-Lot" -- I assume this was was a misnomer.)
However, sometime in the mid-90s they figured out that the name was a bit of a mouthful and changed it, turning their back on the promise of capturing the lucrative "Greek Mythology Nerd" segment of the economy. They still kept the Knight theme, but they simplified it, and gave the new Knight a name. And that name was Knightro. Knightro the Knight. That's its real name. Holy shit.
Oh, and they added a female Knight to go with Knightro. You almost certainly don't know her name, and I'm going to recommend that you enjoy the lovely bliss of ignorance for the next 30 seconds. Go take a moment to yourself.
Are you ready for an end of peace and happiness in your life?
Well, I warned you.
The female knight's name was Glycerin. Knightro Fucking Glyrcerin. Those are their mascots. We basically invited a children's television program to join our league.
Glycerin has since been phased out, which in one sense is sad, because it means Knightro is all alone. But in another sense, it's great news, because as bad as the name was, the worst part about Glycerin was that she looked like she just stepped out of a minstrel show. Honestly, who looked at that design and thought it was a good idea?
But enough about mascots for now. Let's get back to the school with some UCF Fun Facts!
- UCF didn't have an honors program until 1998, which is probably not what you want from a school designed to supply NASA with engineers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burnett_Honors_College
- Until 1999 Knightro was a regular jouster at the restaurant Medieval Times, making him both their mascot and their most accomplished graduate.
- The campus's layout is based on Walt Disney's EPCOT, making this this only Disney park no one wants to visit.
- US News and World Report ranked UCF as the fifth most "Up-and-Coming" National University, which probably makes them feel slightly better about the fact that they're otherwise ranked as the 174th National University by USNWR. If Louisville students could write they'd make fun of UCF students for not being able to read.
- UCF's biggest student tradition involves jumping into a pool during homecoming week. It's called the Spirit Splash. This surprises me because it implies there are times at UCF when students are not expected to be in a pool.
- They also have a secret society called the "Knight Pack" which, according to Wikipedia, is meant to "pair its students with guaranteed high level positions after college at top companies around the world." I guess what I'm saying is that if you want to be the regional manager of a Burger King I know the secret society for you.
- There is also a lake on campus that students regularly swim and boat in. There is an alligator in it. Everyone knows there is an alligator in it. They swim there anyway, because who would actually want a UCF degree?
- The guy who played Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane on the Dukes of Hazzard taught classes at UCF for several years.
- The former president and CEO of Denny's is a UCF alum, because obviously.
- UCF's notable alumni page on Wikipedia boasts five Miss Floridas, one Miss Venezuela, one Playboy Playmate of the Month, one WWE Diva, and one Daniel Tosh.
- To be fair, as a "Space-Grant" university, we should probably mention that UCF has produced two astronauts. As a point of comparison, UConn, a non-"Space-Grant" university, also has produced two astronauts.
Okay, enough with the fun facts. What about video? Does UCF has any incredibly hilarious and embarrassing videos you can link to whenever convenient? Of course the do. Let's try a sampling:
Do you like humiliating all-male a capella group videos? You're in luck:
Is Knightro (did I mention their mascot is named Knightro?) willing to prostitute himself by dancing at a Target SuperStore after-hours shopping event? Would it be Central Florida if he wasn't?
What about passing trends? Does Knightro love passing trends? Obviously.
That's good, but can you give me a video of the school mascot shilling for an off-campus apartment complex by dancing to an even less cool passing trend? Again, Central Florida, so yes. A mascot has to eat somehow, I guess:
This is Florida, so if I had to guess I'd say they probably have a racist professor on staff. Do they have a racist professor on staff? Is this racist enough?
So there you have it folks. That's Central Florida. I can't guarantee you'll hate them, but if you want to after this Saturday I hope I've given you a good start. Welcome to the Hateborhood UCF.You