It’s the heat of The War on I-4’s unofficial “hate week,” and it’s safe to say USF Football head coach Charlie Strong did not imagine himself facing the University of Central Florida in the near future after his 2013 defeat at Louisville.
UCF fans laud the 2013 season as nothing short of marquee run for the Knights after finishing 12-1, 8-0 AAC with a Fiesta Bowl victory and No. 10 ranking to top it all off.
In the middle of that season, though, head coach George O’Leary orchestrated a fourth-quarter comeback against the then-No. 8 Louisville Cardinals with a 75-yard rush to the Cardinals’ end zone.
Louisville enjoyed a comfortable 28-7 lead going into the second half but the Knights stole the show with a commanding performance through the game’s end.
In the press conference following the game, Strong seethed from the outcome.
“It’s hard to move on,” Strong said. “Not to take anything away from Central Florida, I know they were a good football team, it’s one that we gave away when you look at it. Me, personally, I thought we were the better team and we let one get away from us.”
“We have to give Central Florida credit, but I still say the best football team lost that game,” Strong said in the same interview.
O’Leary responded with surprise but remained relatively neutral.
“Charlie did that?,” O’Leary said. “Really? They’re a very talented team. Obviously, when you say the best team didn’t win, you’ve got to look in the mirror as far as players and coaches. I’ll leave it like that. I think it was a great win. All I look at is wins and losses. I don’t get involved in, ‘He said, you said, we said.'”
“I think any time you lose a game I always look in the mirror and what I could have done more to help the win or change the game. I don’t get involved in, ‘We were better than them.’ We won that night. They have a really talented team. They really do. Move on. I don’t get concerned about people talking after a game.”
Now Strong returns at the University of South Florida, perhaps with a small chip on his shoulder after seeing the Knights rob his team of a dominant, undefeated season in Kentucky.
A sold-out rivalry game between USF at UCF – with ticket prices twice as high as FSU vs UF – awaits on Black Friday.
And Strong isn’t the only one going in with a chip on his shoulder – UCF Football head coach Scott Frost has been looking forward to this game for the past year.