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UCF coach O’Leary calls USF coach Holtz; Holtz takes call, doesn’t hang up

Posted May 25, 2010 by Scott Carter

Updated May 25, 2010 at 03:31 PM

PONTE VEDRA BEACH – There is nothing that stirs the USF and UCF fan bases as much as the debate over whether the schools should play each other in football regularly.

USF fans say the Bulls have outgrown the Knights and have nothing to gain by scheduling an annual game. UCF fans say that is an arrogant attitude and that USF is detached from reality if it believes its football program is that far ahead of UCF’s.

Former USF coach Jim Leavitt, after four consecutive wins over the Knights, made it clear he had little interest in facing UCF annually.

However, UCF coach George O’Leary called new USF coach Skip Holtz last week to gauge his interest in restarting the rivalry on the field rather than on fan message boards and in sports bars.

What did Holtz say?

“I’m not opposed to it,’’ he said prior to leaving the Big East Conference spring meetings here on Tuesday afternoon. “I like the geographical rivalries that it creates for your fan base.’’

Holtz has told USF athletic director Doug Woolard that he is open to the idea if that’s the direction USF wants to take.

During his time at East Carolina, Holtz faced UCF regularly as a member of Conference USA. East Carolina lost to UCF in his first season in 2005, but the Pirates defeated the Knights each of the past four seasons.

USF and UCF played each season from 2005-08, with USF winning each time.

“I don’t know where it’s at or where it’s going,’’ Holtz said of the potential series being revived. “They have talked about the possibility of that being brought up in the future.’’

When Holtz replaced Leavitt in January, he told The Tribune that he wasn’t opposed to facing UCF, but that he also wanted to be tested against the state’s traditional powers.

“I would rather play Florida, Florida State or Miami, because I think that’s the level to where we want to build this program to and I think it’s impossible to get to that level unless you can compete at that level. And that’s where we want to play,’’ Holtz said then. “I’m not opposed to [playing UCF regularly] and I’m certainly not afraid of it, but from a standpoint of where we’re trying to build [our program], I want to compete against some of those other schools before them.’’

Reader Comments

Por (Brian) on May 25, 2010 (Suggest removal)

The difference between University of Michigan football and University of Illinois football is that Michigan has a hated rival.

Even though it obviously means we end up losing a game, the UCF makes a ton of sense for USF and our fans.

I’d change my mind if i could be convinced that FSU, Miami or UF would ever care enough about USF to let us get under their skin and heat up a rivalry. . . . . unlikely at this point in time.

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Por (Dan Alatorre) on May 25, 2010 (Suggest removal)

If USF plays FSU again and beats them again, you will see some attitudes change. I cannot tell you the number of Seminole fans who were whining and crying and making excuses for their loss.

If UCF counts as a conference win, then I say play them. (Ban the alcohol, though; the knights get their drink on way too much and have a tendency to puke.)

Otherwise, it’s a step down, as Holtz said in not so many words.

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