ORLANDO, Fla. — UCF’s national championship parade has been scheduled.
UCF’s national championship banner has been ordered.
UCF’s coaches are being paid their national championship bonuses.
At least two media outlets, following undefeated UCF’s victory over Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, have declared the undefeated Knights as the national champions and have commissioned trophies to commemorate the accomplishment.
My Orlando Sentinel column following the Peach Bowl anointed UCF as “the real national champions.” UCF President John Hitt issued a statement calling the Knights “national champions.” UCF has even changed its Twitter handle to “2017 National Champions.” And UCF athletics director Danny White is doubling and tripling down on this narrative, declaring to ESPN and every other media outlet that the Knights are indeed “national champions.”
“I don’t know how you don’t call this team national champions,” White told me Wednesday. “They are the only undefeated team in college football, and in the last game of the year they beat the team (Auburn) that beat both the teams (Alabama and Georgia) playing in the CFB Playoff Championship Game. I just don’t know how in any sort of equitable system you don’t consider us national champions.”
The obvious answer, of course, is college football doesn’t have any sort of “equitable” system. In fact, college football has the most inequitable, archaic, arbitrary, asinine system in all of sports. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: The College Football Playoff System is really just a College Football Playoff Cartel for the Privileged and Powerful.
The biggest injustice in modern-day sports is that just because a university like UCF wasn’t around 100 years ago when the Power 5 conferences were formed, the 2017 Knights are essentially forbidden from competing for a national title a century later.
If you’re not in a so-called “Power 5” league, you are treated as a second-class citizen and have no chance of reaching the pinnacle of your sport. And what makes it even worse is that the national media elite props up this discriminatory system and denigrates programs like UCF and ADs like White who have the audacity to challenge the status quo.
“There is an inherent bias in the system,” White says, “and it needs to be called out.”
It’s about time somebody in a position of authority challenged the bogus ranking system that drastically penalizes programs not among the rich and powerful. It’s an insult to our intelligence when Bill Hancock, the CFB Playoff Executive Director, actually tells ESPN with a straight face that “the selection committee respected UCF.”
Hancock also said — and I swear I’m not making this up — that the playoff is “all about teams and not conferences.”
Then how do Hancock and his exalted Committee explain late in the season, when UCF and Wisconsin were the only two unbeaten teams in college football? Even though the two programs had almost identical strength of schedules, UCF was ranked No. 18 and Wisconsin was ranked No. 8?
This is why UCF coach Scott Frost teed off on the Committee after the Peach Bowl and said there seemed to be a “conscious effort” to keep UCF out of playoff conversation.
“It wasn’t right,” Frost said. “… Our guys deserve everything they get, and they deserve more credit from the Committee than what they got.”
But instead of calling out this blatant Power 5 prejudice, the national media simply join hands with the College Football Playoff Cartel and become a bunch of Cinderella-bashing propagandists. These good ol’ boys of college football have locked Cinderella in the basement where she is expected to wash the dishes, scrub the floors and iron the clothes so her Power 5 stepsisters can get all gussied up for their private and privileged postseason ball.
Leading the way is the SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum, who compared UCF fans to “cockroaches crawling out of their holes in the middle of the night” after the Peach Bowl victory over the high-and-mighty SEC. And then Finebaum arrogantly advised the Knights to, “Know your place.”
Translation: From Finebaum’s SEC-financed, multi-billion-dollar perch, there is no room at the inn and no seat on the bus for the poor folk of college football.
Finebaum also says it’s “buffoonery” that UCF is claiming a national championship, but fails to point out that college football history is rife with storied programs claiming national titles they may or may not deserve.
Big, bad Alabama, for instance, brags about having 16 national championships — many of which are dubious at best; bogus at worst.
For instance, Alabama claims that it won the 1941 championship even though the Crimson Tide lost twice and were ranked 20th in the Associated Press Poll behind four other SEC teams. But because some random mathematician who happened to be an Alabama fan concocted a formula and awarded the national championship to Alabama, the Crimson Tide actually counts it.
At least UCF’s national championship claim is authentic and legitimate.
See you at the parade on Sunday.
And on Monday night, let’s all get together for a final toast in honor of the undefeated 2017 national champion UCF Knights.
Then, if we’re not too tired, maybe we can stay up for a bit and watch Alabama and Georgia play in the All-SEC consolation game.
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