UCF’s dream season in 2017 is the unquestioned peak of the program’s history. Going 13-0 and claiming a Peach Bowl victory over the No. 7 ranked Auburn Tigers, the Knights are officially recognized in NCAA record books as co-national champions alongside Alabama for this incredible performance.
Just two years before this fairytale season, UCF sat on the opposite end of the spectrum. Failing to claim a single win, the Knights went 0-12 through the 2015 season.
That’s when Scott Frost came in.
In his first season as head coach, Frost turned the program around with a 6-6 regular-season record and a bowl game appearance. After his team’s undefeated season in 2017, the former Knight’s leader took a head coaching job with Nebraska.
Going from 0-12 to 13-0, it’s fair to say Frost play a major role in building up the the UCF program from the ground.
But, during a Tuesday press conference, current head coach Josh Heupel had a different outlook.
“I think that I obviously have grown over the course of my three years, and being able to communicate and build a program from the bottom up,” Heupel said, per college football insider Matt Baker.
His full quote: "I think that I obviously have grown over the course of my three years, and being able to communicate and build a program from the bottom up."
— Matt Baker (@MBakerTBTimes) July 20, 2021
After taking over in 2018, Heupel lead the program to yet another undefeated regular season. The Knights went 12-0 on the year before falling to No. 11 ranked LSU in the Fiesta Bowl.
From there though, the UCF program has undoubtedly regressed.
Following a 10-3 season in 2019, Heupel and his squad notched a disappointing 6-4 record this past year. After three straight regressing seasons, former Knights coach took a head coaching gig with Tennessee in 2021.
Understandably, UCF fans aren’t too happy with their former coach taking credit for the program’s success.
Josh Heupel didn’t build anything at UCF. He was given keys to a Lamborghini and couldn’t handle it. https://t.co/I3gNlgJ7i2
— UCF Knights! (@ChargeOn3) July 21, 2021
UCF, 2017, Frost: 13-0 (NY6 win)
UCF, 2018, Heupel: 12-1 (NY6 win)
UCF, 2019, Heupel: 10-3 (Bowl game win)
UCF, 2020, Heupel: 6-4 (Bowl game loss)
That’s an odd sequence of seasons for building a program “from the bottom up”. But what do I know? https://t.co/PPkA0nYP2S
— Em (@emily_banister) July 21, 2021
So after this, @coachjoshheupel is either stupid or a liar. He took over a 13-0 team and steadily declined each year. 12-1 to 10-4 to a very underwhelming 6-4 with some terrible losses. I don't see how that is growing. Either personally or as a program. https://t.co/AahR6c7mwM
— John Fiore 🤙🔟 #OHANA (@jfee76) July 21, 2021
Heupel actually said this???
He literally did the opposite of building “a program from the bottom up.” He inherited a roster loaded with talent, and regressed every single year. https://t.co/QeuD9mf63G
— 🔥 (@FearThePegasus) July 21, 2021
What a joke..
Started from the bottom of an undefeated national championship..
But the real punch will come when he wins 3 games over the next 2 years at Tennessee 😂😂 https://t.co/svXcTkRXoi
— Mike Margittai ↙️ Football Alliance (@DraftMaverick) July 21, 2021
Can’t tell you how happy I am to have this goober gone. https://t.co/QYygiPIihM
— Alex Bitter (@alexbitter11) July 21, 2021
In an interesting twist of fate, UCF’s new head coach is the same coach they topped in the 2017 Peach Bowl. Former Auburn coach Gus Malzhan will take the reigns in 2021 in hopes of turning the program back in the right direction.
The Knights will kickoff their season with a marquee matchup against Boise State on Sep. 2.