Take an undefeated Group of 5 team with an outspoken athletic director, add an all-SEC championship game and it turns out we’ve found the perfect recipe for maximum College Football Playoff resistance. This was the story of Tuesday with seemingly everybody chiming in on how to fix the Playoff.
And I agree that there needs to be a legitimate path to a national championship for teams like UCF. They’re not forbidden from doing so in any official sense, but practically they are. A Group of 5 team can probably never put together the schedule that would prevent the committee from using the “well, who have they played?” argument that so effectively papers over college football’s clear class structure. It’s not that the powers that be don’t think UCF could be one of the best teams in the country, it’s just that the Knights (and every other team in its position) has no way to prove that it is so the committee never has to worry about it.
UCF AD Danny White is doing what he can to drum up support for his team anyway.
"We've got a really mature group of young men who played 13 games and won them all. I think they deserve to be considered national champions," White said. "We're really proud of them.
"Hopefully, in the coming days, a lot more people will become believers as well. We feel like we're deserving of a national championship. By our research, there's been 36 different years where there have been multiple champions crowned in college football. There's been years where there were three or four champions crowned. … There's going to be a CFP champion, but that doesn't mean that we're not a national champion."
Barring an outright revolt by the Associated Press poll voters, it’s probably not going to happen but I do hope there’s some selector out there that puts the Knights No. 1. And then I hope UCF puts 2017 National Champions somewhere in its stadium. Claim that thing. Let it forever stand as a reminder of the early days of the College Football Playoff.
On that front, it has been interesting to watch the updated power rankings come out now that there’s just one game left. UCF ranked the best (7th) in S&P+. Sagarin (13th) and ESPN FPI (15th) still don’t have the Knights in the top 10 while The Power Rank slots UCF at nine. In the latter three rankings UCF remains behind 10-4 Auburn, which looks worse than it actually is. (I prefer rankings that acknowledge that a one-game sample size isn’t the ultimate trump card.)
In a straight opinion poll, however, I’d probably put the Knights at No. 4, and that would be behind Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State most likely. You could possibly talk me into sliding Clemson or Oklahoma in there as well, but for me UCF deserves a top-five ranking.
It would be the first in school history. When UCF beat Baylor in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl, the Knights (12-1) finished 10th in the AP poll. They deserve better than that this time around.
At least that’s what I think. Where would you rank the Knights? You can vote on that in our latest poll and let us know in the comments below.
The Grab Bag
- ICYMI: Solid win for Nebrasketball last night on the road at Northwestern. Also, recruiting analyst Greg Smith updated his list of top-10 Nebraska recruits.
- Ivan Maisel on how Atlanta became the capital of college football.
- And given that Atlanta gets to host a championship game between Georgia and Alabama, ticket prices are insane.
- Arizona fired Rich Rodriguez last night and this has the look of a story that's going to get messy.
Today's Song of Today
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.