Hello, thought I would post this while everyone had time to settle down. I hope you don't mind. First let me say a big thank you to ODB and Mark. I said yesterday that Baylor fans have quickly become one of my favorite fanbases, this is thanks to this wonderful site. ODB is one of my favorite blogs on the sbnation site, up there with baseball nation and edsbs. I have truly enjoyed my time here.
Now I want somebody to punch me. Wake me up from this dream. Never had I believed that UCF could get into a shootout with Baylor and still win. It was one of the most entertaining bowl games that I have watched. Maybe it's because of all that I had invested in it, but this game is in my top 5 cfb games that I have watched. The heart and effort of both teams was on a clear display. It was like a prize fight, surviving every blow by the other team. I could not sit, I literally paced the entire time. The game had 11 million viewers and set the Fiesta Bowl points scored record. Not bad for two teams that didn't belong, huh?
This brings me to my next point, the kinsmanship between the Baylor and UCF fanbases. Before the game even began, both had been insulted and talked down to on numerous occasions. Baylor was hit with "backing into the Fiesta Bowl because OK State lost", ucf had to point out that yes the AAC was an AQ conference. Both fanbases had to deal with ESPN talking an out the Cotton Bowl, Gator, and Capital One Bowl before they briefly discussed the Fiesta Bowl on the BCS preview show. Baylor fans had to deal with the fact that bloggers and sports personalities were sending Art Briles away to DC or Austin. UCF fans were hit with poor attendance numbers and were treated like the dirty stepchild that nobody likes. Many people said neither belonged. Then came the projections were Baylor was crowned weeks before the game. Neither team should show up, there was no point. ESPN 's Football Power Index( which btw is now 0-2 in BCS games this year), projected Baylor to win by 20. We will get to how they were wrong later. The point is the Fiesta Bowl was supposed to be a blowout, no need to watch, it would be a worse beat down than ou-uconn in 2011. Maybe that's why whenever UCF and Baylor fans would go on twitter and searched Fiesta bowl they would be met with the narrative of both fanbases didn't travel well and that the tarp would be brought out. Oh and one would have to search very hard to find ESPN advertising the game. For the first time UCF fans could relate to Baylor fans. They were a kindred spirit hated on by the masses, disrespected and told they didn't belong.
Anyone who calls this a bad game is an idiot. It's as simple as that. Just look at the score:52-42, the highest scoring game in Fiesta Bowl history. UCF had 565 total yards, Baylor had 560. The country was reintroduced to Bryce Petty, Blake Bortles, Eddie Lackey, Storm Johnson, and Lache Seastrunk. A star was born in Rannell Hall. The McCray twins stepping up against the best pass rush they have faced.You wanted drama? How about Baylor coming back from 14-0 in the first quarter to forcing three consecutive UCF turnovers. How about the much maligned UCF defense forcing an interception by a quarterback who was nearly flawless coming into the game. A young man by the name of Tyson Summers was thrust into UCF's defensive coordinator job weeks before the game. He went toe to toe with legendary offensive genius Art Briles. The defense that had been told for a month that they had sucked, proving everyone wrong. Yes ESPN harped on GOL's "redemption" and. Briles future. But once again they missed the true narrative. Two teams that were told they didn't belong put on a show. Every single player left their body and heart on the field that game. Nothing encompassed this more than Petty's heart on his flip TD. Both teams left a statement saying WE BELONG.
Yes the field was a mess and yes the officials slowed the game down considerably. But no one can deny that these two teams put on a show. That two "sleeping giants" had awoken from their slumber and decided to challenge one another to a fight. And yet that is not the narrative today. Instead it's people bringing up the Erik Plancher case or multiple, ill informed, reports of Art's departure. Instead of hailing the bowl as one of the most entertaining and celebrating the true narrative, people have ignored this game. It's only a blurb on ESPN, which has chosen not to praise the likes of Hall or Johnson or Perriman, but instead already declared Bortles gone. Instead of focusing on Briles' future at Baylor and what he has built, they have chosen to add to Baylor's misery and begin speculation on his future. I tuned into several programs today on The. Mothership expecting praise of this game, instead on programs like ATH and PTI it was all JFF and Cutler talk. Stunned I turned to trusted blogs like Grantland. What did I find? Two sentences on the game followed by a link to a depressed fans rant. Once again UCF and Baylor fans treated like dirty, lice ridden step children.
Listen I do not know what the future holds for both programs. I do not know if Art will stay or go. I personally hope he stays. All I know is that Baylor will be a machine for years to come, with or without Art. (Side note: if Art leaves, go for James Franklin). I do not know if Bortles is leaving early. All I know is for one year he gave this UCF alum tremendous pride in his school. For one night at least we UCF fans can say we have made it. I know that if Bortles leaves, UCF is still loaded with talent and if people doubt this team, well they are wrong. What I know for sure is that last night was one of the happiest/greatest nights of my young life. And for that I am forever endebted to both teams for that. For one night, both teams proved how wrong the narrative truly was.