Whitley's Believe It or Not: Will UCF's latest marketing strategy work this time?

David Whitley
Gator Sports
Florida head coach Dan Mullen, left, greets then Auburn coach Gus Malzahn at the end of the game on Oct. 5, 2019 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Bruce Springsteen appeared on covers of Time and Newsweek in the same week in 1975. The magazines declared him the future of rock 'n' roll.

Now billboards have popped up around the state — including one in Gainesville —declaring UCF "The Future of College Football."

In other words, step aside Dan Mullen. Gus Malzahn is going to be the Boss.

Are your hackles raised? That's the whole point of UCF's marketing strategy.

The marketing strategy worked brilliantly following the 2017 season. UCF declared itself national champion, threw a parade, printed T-shirts and put up a billboard in Tuscaloosa trolling (supposed) national champ Alabama.

Football fans around the country who didn't know UCF existed suddenly had an opinion about Orlando's leading commuter university. Sure, they thought the Knights were cocky upstarts who would have been beaten 84-6 by Alabama.

That was OK. The only thing worse than a bad opinion is when people don't care enough to have an opinion. The trolling raised UCF's profile and gave them a permanent space in Paul Finebaum's brain.

The magazines were right about Springsteen. I suspect the billboards won't be as accurate about UCF. But if spotting one gives you a case of road rage, the Knights have already won. ...

I don't know if the future of college basketball is in Gainesville, but the Gators should make the NCAA Tournament regardless of what happens in this week's SEC Tournament.

That's more than Kentucky can say. With nine wins, the Wildcats have to win the SEC to get an NCAA berth. Duke will probably have to win the ACC Tournament.

Holy Krzyzewski. The last NCAA Tournament without both Kentucky and Duke was in 1976. ...

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the first column that has ever compared Gus Malzahn to Bruce Springsteen. ...

Unbelievable Story of the Week: The Athletic reported that when Terry Bradshaw checked into a Shreveport, La., hospital for elbow surgery in 1983, he used an alias so the press wouldn't find out.

The name Bradshaw chose — Tom Brady.

He didn't say why he chose the name, but that other Tom Brady was five years old and had yet to even date a supermodel at the time.

"There's no question he and I are linked at the hip — same initials, same number," Bradshaw said. "I had hair back then. I was a sex symbol. I had it all going then."

Comic question: How different would NFL history have been if Bradshaw had checked in under the name Ryan Leaf? ...

Jazz Janewattananond shot an 84 Sunday to blow his chance to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Too bad. I can't wait for him to win his first PGA event, simply to see how newspapers manage to get his name in a headline. ...

Sadly Believable Story of the Week: Everything about Les Miles.

Miles is engulfed in sexual harassment allegations dating back 10 years at LSU. Kansas AD Jeff Long is in trouble for hiring Miles two years ago without due diligence.

In a deposition, Long couldn't remember the names of other candidates he interviewed. One was "Todd Graham or Grantham."

Graham was a head coach at Rice, Arizona State and now Hawaii. Grantham's a longtime assistant and is now defensive coordinator at Florida. And Long will probably soon be the former athletic director at Kansas. ...

Correction: With all due respect to the Boss, we all know the future of rock 'n' roll in 1975 was Tom Petty. ...

Johnny Manziel announced last week he plans to pursue a golf career. Massive social media ridicule ensued, prompting Manziel to tweet:

"Everybody has an opinion, man. A lotta people said I’d never win a Heisman either but sometimes life has other plans for you."

Prediction — Jazz Janewattananond will win the Heisman before Manziel wins a PGA tournament. ...

This just in: ESPN has announced it will go on a hunger strike if Duke isn't invited to the NCAA Tournament. ... 

Lorenzo Lingard reportedly had a big run at Florida's scrimmage Friday night, but Gainesville's leading rusher by far over the weekend was Matthew Tadeo.

He won the Florida Track Club Marathon in two hours and 33 minutes. Katie Nelson won the women's division in two hours and 48 minutes. Her 26.2 rushing miles were only three fewer than the UF's defense gave up last season. ...

And Happy Birthday to Brian Bosworth, who turns 57 today. Barbie turns 62, but she still doesn't look a day over 20. Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci was born on this date in 1454.

He later set sail to the New World, had a country named after him and discovered the future of college football was definitely not in Orlando.

— David Whitley is The Gainesville Sun's sports columnist. Contact him at dwhitley@gannett.com. And follow him on Twitter: @DavidEWhitley

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