ORLANDO, Fla. – A group of University of Central Florida fans planning to travel by bus to Jacksonville this weekend to make their name known at the annual Florida-Georgia game have canceled their trip due to threats made online.
UCF "super fan" Chad Barr, who was organizing the trip, said they received multiple threats of violence on social media and no longer felt it was the right thing to do because they didn't want anyone getting hurt.
Barr and other alumni were arranging for buses from Altamonte Springs to shuttle fans from Orlando to Jacksonville to stage the "epic takeover" of ESPN's "College GameDay" at TIAA Stadium, according to the Facebook event titled "UCF College GameDay Invasion Force."
"We UCF fans and alumni have decided to stage an epic takeover to continue to show the country what UCF Nation is all about and that we will not be silenced or back down from anyone," according to the page.
Barr said they were trying to rally the fan base around the program and its success.
"It's crazy that people are threatening us for going up there and defending, like, we are the national champs, you know what I mean? I think we deserve to speak what we think is right," UCF freshman Jared Tomasso said. "We are not getting the kind of recognition we deserve. The team, they are busting their butt every single day to become, to be the best team they can. I think they deserve recognition for that."
"Obviously, you have to take it seriously, because if you don't and you are a parent and something does happen, I mean, you are going to be kind of angry that they didn't take it seriously," UCF freshman Cameron Lucas said.
The now-canceled plans came after "College GameDay" criticized and laughed about the UCF football team’s playing capabilities in a 2 1/2-minute debate Saturday. Some commentators said other schools have more compelling arguments for being part of the College Football Playoff.
"If it was so easy to go undefeated, why aren't other teams doing it? That's always my reaction when it comes to those kinds of comments," Barr said.
Barr said he was hoping the "College GameDay" takeover would help UCF get the recognition he believes the Knights deserve.
"I want the nation to take a message away that UCF is the place to be," he said.
Barr hired a pilot in September to fly a banner over Camping World Stadium during the University of Alabama and University of Louisville game that read "UCF '17 CO-NAT'L CHAMPS 13-0 # CHADBARRLAW."
The Knights beat the Auburn Tigers in the Peach Bowl on Jan. 1 to cap a 13-0 season, finishing the 2017 season as the only undefeated team in college football. The Knights remain undefeated as of last week's game.
As of Wednesday, 56 people had already purchased seats to make the trip to Jacksonville. It was unclear how many seats had been purchased by Thursday, when the event was canceled.
Details about the threats and information about who may have made them were not immediately known.
Barr said as of Thursday, there wasn't anything local planned, but some fans are still planning on going, and people in the Jacksonville chapter of the alumni association will still attend.