In Orlando on Thursday night on his spring speaking tour, Florida football coach Dan Mullen was asked about the rivalry between UF and UCF. He kind of shook his head at that question.
“They’d have to play us to get a rivalry,” Mullen said. “We made an offer to play them.”
UF did, but UCF turned it down. The Gators offered to play the Knights in a three-game series, with two games being played in Gainesville and the other in Orlando.
Despite that offer — and UCF’s refusal to accept it — the perception among Knights’ fans (and others in Orlando) remains that UF, the established program, is ducking UCF, the school on the rise.
That’s not reality.
“I have no problem scheduling UCF,” Mullen said.
No problem other than UCF not wanting to make it a two-for-one deal.
The Knights didn’t like that idea. But their biggest rival, USF, did — and the Gators and Bulls will be playing a three-game series starting in 2022 in Gainesville. UF will travel to Tampa the following year, then the Bulls will return to The Swamp in 2025.
So, there’s a chance UF-USF is going to grow into the rivalry that UF-UCF will not (at least for the foreseeable future).
Mullen is fired up about the UF-USF series.
“We’re real excited,” he said. “The fans and people in Florida are really excited about that matchup coming up. The national stage scheduling is getting a lot of attention, with schools going out there and playing a little bit more of a national schedule.
“But the USF series that’s coming up, even though it might not have the national kind of allure, it has great allure for the people in the state of Florida. That makes it exciting.
“Big picture, that game being scheduled might not be as big an announcement nationally as us playing a Texas or a Colorado, (but) within the state, it is that big of a game. It’s really exciting for us to get that game scheduled.”