Let me take an extraordinary amount of space to add the full content of what I have “discovered” about UCF that causes me to feel that it is or should be the number one candidate for [Big East] expansion.
What I found about them blew me away and surprised the heck out of me. My no-knowledge impression was that they were a smaller school with an academically challenged enrollment and weak athletics….I was wrong on all points. I encourage everyone to use the net to check them out as well. This is a great University very much on the path to Academic and Sports success and the BE would be crazy not to consider them a prime and possibly the prime candidate for expansion of the Big East. Some facts:
- UCF, with 53,537 students, is now the largest University in Florida (UF – 50,691, USF – 46,612, FSU – 33,971, Miami – 15,670) so it clearly has scale and relevance.
- By way of Big East comparisons: UCONN and WVU have about 30,000 students: Rutgers, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh about 35,000, Syracuse and Louisville about 20,000. Regarding other possible additions: Maryland 36,000, Mass 26,000 and ECU 23,000.
- UCF is actually the third largest University in the country and is only 1,500 students behind Ohio State and 2,000 behind Arizona and growing faster than both so it could presumably become the largest University in the country any time it wanted.
- It’s academics have been improving rapidly with an average SAT score for the entering class of 1225, on par with other BE schools including UCONN (which identifies its average SAT as being 1200 (I believe))
- Like UConn, they have a very athletics supportive administration and state government. They opened a new on-Campus Football stadium in 2007 with 45,000 seats which are usually sold out (I infer) vs. the 35,000 seats at Rentschler Field.
- Their BB Arena is also both new and elaborate with 10,000 seats including luxury boxes (the same size as Gampel)
- Their current football commitments for 2010 includes: 1 four star and 9 three star recruits. UConn currently has zero four star and four three star recruits.
- Their Football team was tied for the second best record in C-USA. and beat a ranked (#18) Houston in their last game.
- Their men’s BB recruits are on a par with USF and DePaul in the BE and on a par with such teams as: Gonzaga, UMass and Maryland. They are currently an average 7-3 team in Conference-USA but improving (lost to USF by three and beat UMass by 17).
- Their women’s BB team is not strong at 3-5 but they lost three of those 5 games by one basket.
- They have an enthusiastic fan base and administration with over 15,000 seats sold by UCF to the Bowl against Rutgers and another 5,000 via direct purchase (at a sold out stadium with about 29,000 seats).
- UCF and USF would give the Big East the two largest Universities in Florida. This would match the ACC (Miami and FSU) and exceed the SEC (Florida) giving us, over time, the opportunity to really attract recruits from the incredible Florida talent pool who would have the opportunity to perform twice a season in front of family and friends.
- The Florida talent pool is the best in the country (especially for “skilled” positions). With access to that pool and the Midwest pool (Cincinnati and Pittsburgh (sort of)) it gives us a significant presence in the two talent pools we can meaningfully have access to. Add ECU to WVU and that gives us two in the mid-Atlantic another strong area.
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Source: Hartford Courant Mailbag Dec.20: By Desmond Conner on December 20, 2009 9:42 PM.