Reminiscing on my first two years of college now has me desperately clutching onto my last two, and whenever someone tells me they can’t wait to graduate I can’t help but think of the Adam Sandler “cherish it” scene from Billy Madison.

When I came to UCF in the fall of 2011, things weren’t as good as they are now. UCF suffered a serious hangover from their bowl victory against SEC powerhouse Georgia, winning only two during a seven game stretch in the heart of the season finishing 5-7.

Jeff Godfrey came into the season with whispers of a Heisman run and ended the season by getting out-shined by then freshman quarterback Blake Bortles. The most relevant program we played was Tulsa, who didn’t even finish in the top 25. The icing on top of the cake was then Athletic Director Keith Tribble being named in a 16-page notice of allegations against the UCF athletic department.

The fans that were invested in the program such as myself felt like we all got coal in our Christmas stockings.

People started calling us a “drinking school with a football problem”. The Memory Mall tailgating area was packed all day, but the upper deck of the stadium couldn’t even fill up.

The general sentiment echoed by the fanbase was that we would always take one step forward and two steps back.

Magically, things bettered last year with us successfully appealing our postseason ban and finishing with a bowl victory. Bortles flourished, Worton and Perriman solidified themselves as durable receivers, and sophomore Storm Johnson looked great under senior back Latavius Murray.

A step forward.

Yes, the jump to the Big East was a mess, but at the end of the day it really wasn’t as bad as it could of been.

UCF will get the exposure now with multiple marquee opponents(Penn State, Louisville, Rutgers) and locking down the Ireland game guarantees a decent amount next season too. However, the Knights need to produce victories now more than ever.

And they have a good chance.

The Knights football team will be playing on national TV multiple times and if Brighthouse Stadium is only three quarters full during a Blake Bortles touchdown drive, it won’t be promising for future TV contracts and future recruits.

It is obvious that the UCF administration is counting on us after a vigorous display of urgency to make athletics a focal point of the University after announcing to add a tiki bar and 10,000 more seats to the stadium in coming years. New Athletic Director Todd Stansbury made the smart decision to get rid of the student lottery, which really only works in schools that have a higher student ticket demand than there are seats.

This is our defining moment, UCF fans.

Our support of this team is equally as important as the wins. If we don’t show up, we don’t have the potential to be like the Louisville’s of college athletics. The writing is on the wall, we are getting scheduled to play Thursday games on national TV in order to increase our relevancy.

It has to be said though, if we can’t win we don’t have a chance either.

This coming Thursday, UCF football players will be taking the field for their season opener against Akron. The start of a chance to prove that when we take a step forward we don’t take two steps back.

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