The UCF Knights hosted their first spring under new head coach Josh Heupel. A few minutes before the game, the team showed highlights from the 2017 season on the jumbotron at Spectrum Stadium in east Orlando. They also hung a banner celebrating their 13-0 undefeated season. The players and coaches also received gaudy, diamond covered championship rings to not only commemorate the perfect season, but American Athletic Conference title, Peach Bowl Championship and self proclaimed National title.
While Knights’ fans and alums love it. The pettiness of the Knight’s athletic department is rubbing people outside of central Florida the wrong way.
The Knight’s argument is that they beat the Auburn Tigers, the only team to beat the College Football Playoff National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide. Maybe they could have gotten away with claiming the Championship in the 1990’s when two different team’s finished number one in the Associated Press poll and Coaches polls following the bowl season. Just go look up the 1997 season that ended with the Florida Gators and Michigan Wolverines claiming the national crown. That season is what eventually led to the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). However, the College Football Playoff is the new system in place to decide who is the number one team in the land, and UCF wasn’t invited.
I agree UCF was screwed out of a shot to play for the title and prove how good they were on the field. The finger should be solely pointed at the thirteen people on the College football playoff committee for them not getting that chance. They are the ones who are supposed to know the game of football, watch all of the games throughout the season and judge what teams are playing the best, and deserving of one of those coveted final four spots.
Former UCF Head Coach, now at Nebraska, said during the 2017 season he wouldn’t campaign for a high ranking in the weekly College Football Playoff rankings because he wanted to focus on each game in front of the Knights. He was right, and it wouldn’t have looked good for Knight’s Athletic Director Danny White to beat the school’s chest either.
But the finger should be pointed at the head coaches of the thirteen teams the Knights defeated, as well as the Athletic Directors at the schools of the American Athletic Conference and Michael Aresco, the Commissioner of the AAC.
Each Tuesday night the CFP committee disrespected the Knights in those rankings, the aforementioned people should have been pounding the table about how good UCF really is, and why the committee should have shown coach Frost and his team more respect. It would’ve been in their benefit to stomp for UCF, because of the money the conference would’ve received with a Knight’s CFP invitation. But also, the legitimacy it would have brought to the entire conference out of the obscurity of being a mid-major or “Group of Five.” Even though those schools lost to UCF in 2017, it would have been a victory for the AAC.
2017 should be a lesson for future seasons when a mid-major program has a run like the Knights to give them a realistic shot they earned on the field at a National title. But, this also may be a call to action on the need to expand the playoffs to six games, which many are in favor of. Five slots for the Power Five conferences (ACC, B1G, PAC-12, SEC, BIG 12) and one at-large spot for a team from a “Group of Five” like UCF. I don’t think anyone would have a problem with this, and the committee would still get the weekly controversy over the selections they obviously want. Most importantly, you wouldn’t have the embarrassment of leaving out the only undefeated team in the sport and them crowning themselves as champions.