USF offered to play UCF in Citrus Bowl this fall
USF football on Tuesday announced a home-and-home series with Nevada starting in Reno this fall, and since Central Florida had mentioned an interest in playing the Bulls this season, it might have initially looked like the Bulls were avoiding their future Big East rivals.
In fact, nearly the opposite is true -- in trying to fill the final slot in their 2012 schedule, USF officials offered to play UCF in Orlando at the Citrus Bowl as a neutral-site game where revenues would be shared, but the Knights declined, saying they needed a sixth home game on campus at Bright House Networks Stadium.
"We were looking for a home game," UCF associate athletic director Joe Hornstein said Tuesday by phone, noting that the Knights only have five games scheduled at home as its stands.
Hornstein said the revenues from a shared rivalry game in Orlando -- the two schools will start playing every year as Big East teams in 2013 -- would not be as much as from even a lesser opponent in a home game on campus, a game that UCF is still seeking late in the scheduling process. UCF offered to play the game at Bright House, much as USF had also offered to play the game at Raymond James Stadium, but even the Citrus Bowl, just 16 miles from UCF's campus and 86 miles from USF, wasn't enough of a compromise.
UCF is scheduled to play at Ohio State on the date USF filled with its Nevada game, but Hornstein said UCF would have tried to reshuffle its schedule to accommodate a USF game at Bright House. The Knights already have revenue to show for the open date -- UCF needs a game because last year Kansas State opted to buy out the return game in a home-and-home series for $500,000.
The fact that UCF wasn't interested in playing the Bulls at the Citrus Bowl was disappointing for Steve Hogan, the chief executive officer of Florida Citrus Sports, which runs the two postseason bowl games in the stadium and works to bring sporting events to the Orlando area.
"We had a conversation (with both schools) about starting the rivalry back up, thought it would have been a fun one," Hogan said. "This stadium here would be 66,000 and this could have really filled it up, while the on-campus stadium is 40-45,000. The neutral-site venue would be the better opportunity, but I think we have missed the window on that one."
As a result, USF will be playing in Reno -- just the third time in school history the Bulls will play west of the Rocky Mountains -- with a return game for the Wolf Pack in Tampa in 2015, and UCF still has an opening on their 2012 schedule.