Former Auburn football head coach Gus Malzahn could have UCF competitive in their new conference, the Big 12, “very quickly” according to Mike Farrell of Mike Farrell Sports — who believes the Knights deserve to be included in the state of Florida’s “Big 4” in college football alongside Florida, FSU, and Miami.
“Give me UCF in the big four,” Farrell prefaced before saying, “I hear them mentioned by four-star recruits more than ever before, there is a lot of momentum for the program as they’ve become a legit portal option, and Gus Malzahn will have the competitive in the Big 12 very quickly.”
UCF will have arguably its toughest schedule in history during the 2023 season, with defending Big 12 champion Kansas State, Baylor, Kansas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Texas State all on the docket; all but two of those being fresh opponents for the Knights.
UCF isn’t 2017 national champions because they beat Auburn football: Analyst
While Farrell was high on Malzahn and UCF in the short term, he was highly critical of the Knights fanbase’s claim to the 2017 national championship due to a Peach Bowl victory over Auburn football on January 1, 2018.
“UCF claims one in 2017, but we’ll know it’s fabricated,” Farrell prefaced before saying, “Going undefeated is great, but claiming you won a natty because you beat Auburn, who beat Alabama, who eventually won it all doesn’t fly. The best UCF win that season aside from the Auburn game? Memphis. Meanwhile, Alabama went on to beat Clemson and Georgia to win their national title, the real national title.”
Regardless of the championship claim, that 2017 season laid the groundwork for the school to make the jump to the Power Five six years later, as did the hiring of Malzahn from the Plains after a tenure in which the Tigers never had a losing season and was a South Carolina victory away from being seen as a contender in the SEC West still, with a 7-3 record in 2020.