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Is UCF set to reverse field on its football scheduling philosophy?

New coach Gus Malzahn indicated Monday that he’d play anyone, anywhere, at any time.
UCF players celebrate their 49-42 triumph against USF in the 2017 regular-season finale for both teams at Spectrum Stadium (now formally known as the Bounce House) in Orlando.
UCF players celebrate their 49-42 triumph against USF in the 2017 regular-season finale for both teams at Spectrum Stadium (now formally known as the Bounce House) in Orlando. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Feb. 15

Based on the sound bites emanating Monday from Orlando, UCF’s new athletic director and new football coach are bent on installing a new scheduling philosophy.

The result could be a prominent Power Five opponent or two facing the Knights on their own turf.

During Gus Malzahn’s formal introduction as Knights coach Monday, he and athletic director Terry Mohajir indicated they’re both receptive to two-for-one scheduling deals in which UCF would play twice at a major Power Five foe’s stadium in exchange for one meeting at the Bounce House (formerly known as Spectrum Stadium.

“I’ll play out in the parking lot,” Malzahn said. “Terry can decide if we’re playing at home or on the road, or two-for-whatever. I just want to play them and I want to beat them.”

Previous Knights athletic director Danny White never gave much credence to such deals, mainly because it compromised UCF’s ability to play seven games a year at the Bounce House. He also was skeptical of most major Power Five programs being willing to play a road game at the Knights’ 45,000-seat on-campus venue.

“If you’re going to commit to seven home games in most years, you can’t play three-game series with teams,” David Hansen, UCF’s chief operating officer and major scheduling coordinator, told the Tampa Bay Times in 2018.

“What it kind of forces you to do is go get bought by somebody, which again, for us working to build a fan base, getting bought by teams isn’t a way to do that in our minds.”

Standing in philosophical contrast to that viewpoint was Mohajir, who said Monday that UCF will explore “any opportunity” to put the Knights in the best position to compete for a New Year’s Six bowl berth and College Football Playoff spot.

“In order to beat the best, you’ve got to play them,” said Mohajir, hired earlier this month from Arkansas State. “So sometimes you have to play people on their terms if you want an opportunity for that, and I’ve had experience in that. I’m the guy that scheduled the Miami Hurricanes home-and-home in northeast Arkansas.

“I will tell you this: If a two-for-one is ever going to happen, that one is going have to be in the Bounce House — going to have to be there.”

Related: Gators schedule football series with Notre Dame