Meet the UCF Surfer Dudes

By Trace Trylko 1/28/2015

Move over Knights of UCF, the Surfer Dudes have arrived. This might as well be the school’s new nickname, as tradition has been tossed aside in favor of faux sand and prop surf boards. Or, as UCF Athletics is calling it: The East Side Club (ESC) to make it sound more hip.

For some two years, UCF fans have heard chatter, often accompanied by laughter, of a so-called “Tiki Bar” coming to Bright House Networks Stadium. Sure, UCF could use a new premium section for big-dollar donors as Athletics officials say there’s a waiting list to eat, drink and be merry on the west side of the Bright House.

Where should such an exclusive club be located? If you guessed in the end zone, covering up the wide swaths of aluminum that accompany far too many UCF home football games, you would be completely WRONG.

You see, UCF Athletics Director Todd Stansbury has been jonesing for a made-for-TV moment on kickoffs and cutaways for those sparsely-attended noon home games televised on ESPN3. So, the powers that be at the second-largest university in the nation decided the perfect spot for shots of sun burnt, and likely drunk, fans is between the 30s, or carving out the seats on the 50-yard line.

Can you name a respected University that would remove its prime seats for a gimmick (Gimmick defined as a trick or device intended to attract attention, publicity, or business.)? It’s hard to imagine the University of Florida Gators taking out its 50-yard line seats for a Gator Land exhibit.

Remember the last time UCF traded credibility for a short-term publicity burst? We ended up with the “black” top look for basketball games at the CFE Arena. How’s that working out? The men’s basketball team is in the bottom half of the American Athletic Conference (again) and attendance has tumbled to less than 4,000 per game. Who needs a quality product when you generate headlines?

Speaking of which, check out these doozies that have accompanied the news about UCF’s version of Cabana Bay:

UCF's 'Goofy' Stadium Beach … and UCF offers fake beach, no sand, real football

Canadian-native Stansbury doesn’t seem to understand the nearest beach is an hour away from UCF, and he certainly doesn’t seem to respect UCF tradition. In Stansbury’s world, black and gold must take a back seat to spray-on sand and whatever fake palm trees the designer who brought you Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurant can dream up.

Step right up, friends, shell out $900 for access to “Enhanced WiFi” and the right to buy beer and fruity drinks with umbrellas. Take a hike, Knightro. UCF’s brain trust may actually prefer a mascot that resembles surfer dude Jeff Spicoli from the 1980s hit movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Are Hawaiian-shirt styled uniforms close behind?


DISCLAIMER: I’ve been a loyal season ticket holder and Golden Knights Club booster for 15 years and, yes, my seats are smack dab in the middle of the Surf Club. I’m pretty sure I’d feel the same even if I wasn’t directly impacted.