Oct. 15, 2011
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By John Denton
DALLAS - A day after meeting with Big East officials and presidents from member schools in Cincinnati, UCF President Dr. John Hitt and Athletics Director Keith Tribble said a Big East invitation has been issued, but the finalization of a deal is still far from complete.
And in somewhat of a shocking move, Dr. Hitt said that USF president Judy Genshaft made the recommendation that UCF be considered, a motion that passed unanimously. Dr. Hitt later called Genshaft to thank her for the recommendation. Genshaft was reportedly one of the leaders in the Big East opposed to UCF's potential entry into the league, but she has apparently softened her stance.
Tribble said he has no timetable on when UCF's all-sports entry into the Big East could be finalized and stressed that the move is far from a done deal.
``It's still a very fluid situation,'' Tribble said. ``There are still so many moving parts in this thing that are to be considered.''
Also in play is Conference USA's talks with the Mountain West about a potential merger that would feature 22 teams spanning five time zones. The idea was initially introduced by C-USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky two years ago, and it has been endorsed by Dr. Hitt because of the possible revenues from television contracts and the potential of landing an automatic qualifying slot to the Bowl Championship Series.
Hitt said that any exit fees from possibly leaving C-USA would not be a concern for UCF. The Knights likely wouldn't play in the Big East until the 2013 season at the earliest, but even that's in negotiations as well.
Tribble said that UCF's future conference affiliation is still up in the air because of a variety of factors. Boise State, Navy and Air Force have also been prominently mentioned as potential new members of the Big East, but other reports say that those teams have cooled to the idea. Tribble said that UCF's decision is independent of that of others, and several factors are in play.
RECEIVING ISSUES: Sometimes in college football it takes a perfect storm, of sorts, to author a special season. At times, it's difficult to construct a perfect offense or defense because of a lack of experience or depth at a certain position.
UCF offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe broached that subject because of the issues facing the Knights this season at wide receiver. Last season, UCF was loaded with talent and experience at wide receiver with Jamar Newsome, Brian Watters and Kamar Aiken, but had a freshman (Jeff Godfrey) at quarterback. This season, Godfrey is the one with the experience, while the receivers are mostly newcomers with little playing experience.
Senior A.J. Guyton and junior Quincy McDuffie were the only returners with significant experience. Redshirt freshmen J.J. Worton and Josh Reese and senior Khymest Williams have played significantly.
``Jeff is still having to get used to throwing to a new group of wide receivers. The timing sometimes is just not there and sometimes you see a hesitancy there to throw the ball,'' Taaffe said. ``Last year, we had several seniors who made Jeff look better at times by making plays. For us now it's about getting guys more confident and sure of themselves.''
CHAMPIONSHIP MEMORIES: When UCF and SMU last played in December, Brynn Harvey was but a bystander because of a season-ending knee injury. Harvey, UCF's leading rusher in 2008 and '09, sat out all of last season after injuring his knee in the spring of 2010.
Harvey attempted to make a comeback last season, getting on the field for full-contact drills by the end of the season. He was eventually redshirted following the emergence of Latavius Murray and Ronnie Weaver. But Harvey helped out anyway he could, imitating SMU standout running back Zach Line in practice drills.
``I was on the scout team that week before the championship game, so I looked at it as me just trying to do whatever I could to help the team prepare,'' Harvey said. ``It was hard watching, but I was just happy that we won the game.''
ETC: UCF's game against UAB was moved from Saturday to Thursday night before the season at the request of the Blazers' administration, according to Tribble. With NASCAR racing in nearby Talladega on Sunday and the Tennessee-Alabama game in Tuscaloosa on Saturday in Tuscaloosa, UAB officials figured the Knights-Blazers game would get more publicity playing it on Thursday night. Comcast Sports South and Bright House Sports Network will televise the game. ... When SMU scored an early touchdown on Saturday it was the first time in seven games that UCF had allowed a first-quarter touchdown. The streak dated back to Nov. 27, 2010, against Memphis. Also, it was the first time since the 2009 St. Pete Bowl that a team has scored a touchdown on the first drive of the game against UCF. ... UCF brothers Cliff and Justin McCray started at the two guard positions on Saturday for the first time in the careers. Cliff, a senior, started at left guard ahead of Theo Goins, while Justin, a sophomore, started at right guard. Jordan McCray, Justin's twin, is also on the team. ... Here's what was most shocking about UCF's troubles covering punts on Saturday - the Knights had the No. 2-ranked special teams coverage unit in the country last season. UCF allowed only 80 yards of returns all of last season and none longer than 18 yards. SMU's Richard Crawford had punt returns of 47, 50 (nullified by penalty) and 92 yards in the first half alone. ... Williams, UCF's senior wide receiver, left the field just before the half with an arm injury. Williams was injured while returning a kickoff.
John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFAthletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at email@example.com.