UCF isn’t the champion, but deserved a shot 109

The Central Florida football team had a fantastic season, finishing 13-0 and capped off with a big win over Auburn, of the vaunted SEC, in the Peach Bowl.

Auburn knocked off both Georgia and Alabama — both teams playing for the national championship today — toward the end of the season, and UCF did something neither Georgia or Alabama could do.

So, the Knights took it into their own hands to declare themselves national champions as the only unbeaten FBS program this season, regardless of the outcome of tonight’s game.

Problem is, UCF isn’t really the national champion, no matter how hard it tries.

That’s not to say the Knights don’t have a legitimate beef with how everything unfolded. Since the beginning of the College Football Playoff (CFP) era, in 2014, Group-of-5 teams have next to no chance of ever getting into the four-team format that is now in its fourth season. UCF is just the latest victim, but unlike the past, the Knights finished the season without a blemish.

Scott Frost, who was the head coach for UCF this season before taking the job at Nebraska, thought the CFP Committee tried its hardest to keep the Knights out.

“It wasn’t right — watching the committee every week sitting in a room and deciding this two-loss team must be better than UCF or that three-loss team must be better than UCF,” he said after the Peach Bowl. “It looked like a conscious effort. Our guys deserve everything they get, and they deserve more credit from the Committee than what they got.”

UCF didn’t play a single Power-5 team in the regular season — a game with Georgia Tech was canceled because of Hurricane Irma. However, the Knights beat ranked Memphis twice and also knocked off ranked South Florida, but still had the 54th-toughest schedule according to ESPN.

Compare that to Clemson (4), Oklahoma (2), Georgia (7) and Alabama (6), the CFP Committee’s hands were tied. After the win against Auburn, in hindsight, it’s easy to say UCF deserved a shot, but it didn’t.

It doesn’t matter how many

T-shirts the school sells, how many banners it hangs in the rafters of Spectrum Stadium or how many social media campaigns it runs, UCF is not the national champion.

That will be whoever wins tonight’s all-SEC showdown at Mercedes Benz Stadium, in Atlanta.

But what UCF’s obvious attempt to discredit and mock the CFP Committee has done is reopen the conversation about how the national champion should be decided in college football. The BCS was far from perfect, and the current system is proving to be another imperfect system.

Problem is, no system will be perfect, but many coaches are openly clamoring for an eight-team system that would be representative of most of the college football landscape. Each conference champion is in, as well as two Power-5 at-large teams and a Group-of-5 school.

If those rules were in place this season, Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia, Ohio State and USC would get in as conference champions, while Alabama and Wisconsin would be the likely at-large teams.

And, as the little guy that always seems to be pushed aside, UCF would make it as the Group-of-5 school and would have a chance to prove if it truly belongs rather than making up mythical national titles.

Follow Sean Manning on Twitter @SeanManning_DP. Email: smanning@dominionpost.com.

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