UCF’s loss to Tulsa on Saturday was simply and unequivocally unacceptable. From playing with no energy at home to committing an alarming number of penalties to frustrating coaching decisions, that result against that team was unacceptable.
But I saw something else that was unacceptable on Saturday night: the way a fringe of Knight Nation conducted itself on social media. The Knights lost a game to a bad team thanks to a bevy of mistakes and issues. That hurts. It really, really hurts.
But we unfortunately have moved into a place where part of this team’s fans don’t just get angry at losses. They go ballistic. They become unhinged. They act in a way that “fans” do not ever act.
If you tweeted your frustrations at a player yesterday, you are not a fan. If you declared that you’re cancelling your season tickets or never watching a game again, you are not a fan. If you decreed that this season is over and pointless, you are not a fan.
As wonderful as that 25-0 stretch was back in 2017 and 2018, it also introduced a poison into this team’s fanbase. Undefeated became the expectation every year, and that’s certainly not a bad thing.
But suffering through this Twitter implosion of curses and absurd comments and horrible messages directed at both coaches and players is never, ever OK.
This is not the majority of the fan base. As far as I can tell, it’s a small but very vocal group. But I just hope that that group does not come to define Knight Nation as a whole.
I am not defending what happened on the field last night. It was a horrible performance that emphasized many of the very real issues UCF will need to work out if it’s going to have a great season. But at some point you have to give way to reality.
Isn’t it a good thing that the Knights’ main issues are centered on mentality and effort, not talent level? Have we all forgotten that this team still has two blowout wins under its belt? Is no one focused on the fact that this loss, as humiliating and frustrating as it was, as of now has virtually no impact on UCF’s ability to win the conference or go to a New Year’s Six Bowl?
It’s OK to be angry right now. I know I am. But there’s a difference between anger and insanity. Teams lose. It happens. But you don’t give up. What players and coaches will see if they check social media today is a loud part of the fan base that has given up.
And that’s more dangerous than anything that happened on the field last night.