Elephants and Zebras


“If I give you guys candy, will you promise not to ask about my 92d-ranked total offense?”

There will be a big Elephant in the room—or, in this case, stadium—tonight when Temple faces No. 9 Central Florida on ESPN (tonight, 7:30).

They will be in the form of another great African animal, Zebras.

If there are some, err, questionable calls by officiating, it should be understandable but certainly not forgivable.

Make no mistake, the American Athletic Conference would prefer for UCF to beat Temple. When that prefer turns into want, that’s where the problem arrives.


Cincy fans were salty about this call but photo shows a possession and a foot drag.

The Owls will have to face the ninth-ranked team in the country (though, curiously, not in the FBS playoff top 10 as released Tuesday night). They will have 43,000 fans rooting against them. Their task is hard enough without having the six guys who can make the most impactful decisions making incorrect ones.

It might not even be a conscious bias, but a subconscious one. These officials are employed by the league and know the league would look good with another NY6 bowl and UCF is this league’s best hope for that. Temple, with losses to Buffalo and Villanova, is all but eliminated from a NY6 spot even if the Owls run the table. There may be mulligans in golf, but there are none in college football and that’s why the Owls should have approached those first two games as if they were league championship ones.

This one is. If the Owls win, they have a clear shot to the league title game and can even absorb a loss to Houston next week and win their division if they beat USF and UConn at home. This would be the key win that unlocks that opportunity for the Owls.

The officials, though, know that a UCF win helps the league more.

So is, say, Isaiah Wright takes a kickoff back 95 yards for an apparent score and a late flag comes out on the UCF 5, the reason will be apparent.

The flip side of this argument is that the conference probably also preferred Cincinnati to win last week in Philadelphia but that was in Philly and this is in Orlando and that’s a big difference.

So Elephants and Zebras could be as important as Owls and Knights tonight. If, however, nobody notices the officials, then that’s the way it should be.

15 thoughts on “Elephants and Zebras

  1. With regard to press conferences, when will TU join the 21st century and have a mike for the persons asking questions. I don’t think it’s too much to ask. TU puts it on Owls TV so they do think it’s valuable so it’s inexplicable that they make the questions indiscernible. As far as the refs go, there is no doubt that the conference wants UCF to win out if only for the millions of dollars the win would likely bring to the conference, it they go to a big bowl. It also brings prestige. The last couple of week-ends ESPN has had high lights of AAC games on College Football final, something they do not do for other G-5 conferences unless the game involves a P-5 team. ESPN is the key to the future of the conference so it’s good that one of the conference teams is creating controversy because it may lead to its inclusion in the P-5 when the TV contracts are up. I’m watching ESPN now and they just referenced UCF for an upcoming story. I expect TU to be blown out and the announcers again for the umpteenth time to ask why TU is running the offense it is.

    • I think the Owls can win. I just have no confidence in the offensive coaches to install the right game plan to do it. I hope I’m wrong but I don’t have a good feeling about this one.

  2. I’ll be rooting for the Owls tonight. But part of me says that a UCF win tonight, then an undefeated UCF AAC championship and a UCF bowl win in a New Years Bowl game is much more important to the AAC (and long term for TU) then TU winning tonight. I know a UCF win tonight doesn’t guarantee anything for UCF beyond tonight. But the ongoing controversy about leaving out an undefeated AAC champion from the playoffs, serves the conference well. When I hear some of the talking heads discuss the AAC, I get the impression they’re almost acknowledging it is close to the PAC 12 and Big 12.

    Realistically, the AAC is TU’s football home for the foreseeable future. It’s critical to the conference that it’s champion is in a New Years Bowl every year.

    An effort similar to what we saw against Maryland, and TU might win big. (I’ll say what a lot of people are thinking, we could’ve been 8-0 going into this game and can only imagine the interest this game would have had.). So I agree the officiating might be affected by the importance of continuing the UCF win streak.

    Anyway we’ll see what happens. But if UCF wins tonight, I’m a UCF for the rest of the season and beyond.

    • Good point about Houston in the above post. If the genie in the bottle appeared and said Temple had to lose one game of the next four and I had to be the one to pick it: Houston. That way, Temple wins all the East tie-breakers (UCF, USF, Cincy) and then beats Houston in the title game. I’m not rooting for UCF or the league when Temple still has a chance to win the league.

  3. If the Owls win, Kevin Neghandi will be a loud voice in Bristol for pumping up the program. The strength of programs at UCF, Temple, Cin’ti, Fresno, SD St., Houston and UAB has been recognized among the blogs.

    All good reasons for UCF to go all the way if they prevail tonight. But only if they go all the way. Truth is, their schedule thus far hasn’t been challenging. Even if they had played and clobbered UNC, still wouldn’t change that.

  4. TUFB will try to run in three consecutive Track Meets, UCF, Houston, and USF.., and Houston by far has the fastest sprinters…,

    the only way to run against those horses is to slow the game down, first by worshipping every snap by milking the clock.., no reason for TU to snap the ball before 5 seconds in the first half., simple things like not going out of bounds, etc..,

    the biggest Zebra is our OC, and Russo’s turnover ratio..,

    easy, no picks from Russo and TU has a chance

    make no mistake, UCF is deserving of a Top 10 ranking, this is essentially the same team that beat Auburn..,

    expect TU to be down at halftime in all three games.., can this staff make the required halftime adjustments? will the offense panic?

    My vote continues to be leave the OC in Philly on the unable to perform list

  5. Interesting game tonight. I use that adjective so say ” I have no idea “.
    So tonight I am having Chili foe dinner.
    That way I figure if Temple or OC Paten stinks up the joint, then so can I.
    What the heck is gonna happen in this game, I have no idea.


  6. Will be a great game, so I flew down. Both teams have held back offensively. Milton will probably play, and hIs ECU “injury” was questionable. Mack’s start was red herring. Temple’s defense must stop multiple threats. Can Temple’s offense keep up? Can Duade put up enough points? I’ll take UCF and 10 pts.

  7. 82 yards in penalties in first half and TU “earned” every yard of that. Can’t blame the refs.

    • track meet type of game.., we can’t win those type of games. fools gold

      foolish strategy and game plan.., we missed the opportunity to slow the game down.

      another hard lesson learned by an inexperienced coaching staff..,

      what does Temple Tuff really mean?

      CC and staff have yet to establish an identity for this team

    • I haven’t seen worse officiating since 2015 in cincy when we somehow pulled of the win. we deserved klein’s offsides. not much else… I don’t like thinking this, but I think the AAC wants a CFP contender….

  8. UCF is using a blocker for their running back. We use nothing. On 4th and a half a yard, they run the back naked. The refs and their calls against TU in the second half were horrendous and were in line with Mike’s prediction above. If only they would use a blocking back. Russo would be unstoppable.

    • easy, we got got lost in fools gold.., TUFB is not a Track Meet team and never will be..,

      we will lose the next two game without a change in strategy, TUFB does not run past opponents, we run through opponents..,

      power teams will always beat track meet teams.., chalk this season up to the maturation of CC.., he is still trying decode TUFB..,

      OBTW, Houston is better than UCF.., they have the winning formula in spades.., get the best defensive player and best offfensive player and start from there…, how simple is that?

      one of the most disturbing things about last night? what has happened to #13.., has he quit on the O/C? watch the film of his play off ball., shocking given his talent…,

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