Perhaps the biggest story in this past 2017-2018 season was about a team that was not even ranked in the top five. The undefeated University of Central Florida Knights.
The Knights had capped off their terrific 13-0 season with a 34-27 win over Auburn in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl earlier this month. However, defeating teams such as Auburn, Memphis, and South Florida weren’t enough to project them into the top four teams, the College Football Playoffs.
All four playoff teams had lost a game in the regular season. The Clemson Tigers lost to the Syracuse Orange, who finished a horrible 4-8 and 7th in the ACC. The Oklahoma Sooners lost to Iowa State, who finished 8-5 and 4th in the Big 12. Also, the two teams who played in the National Championship, the Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide, both had lost to Auburn, the same team UCF beat in their postseason bowl game.
Crushed and aggravated at not being a selection in the top four, the UCF Knights had declared themselves as National Champions, and had a victory parade march at Disney World to celebrate. This controversy got so big that the Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, had declared UCF the “2017 College Football National Champions in Florida”.
The question still remains, what would have happened had UCF been a top four team, and had a chance at a real national title? Would they have completed their perfect season? Or would they have lost in dramatic fashion in the first round or even the National Championship game? These questions may never be answered and are up to fans’ speculations and media to decide.
But why weren’t the Knights a playoff team? Executive Associate Athletic Director and Chief Marketing Officer of UCF, Scott Carr, believes “there is an obvious ‘Power 5’ bias using a subjective system to select 4 teams. People responsible for ranking teams are making judgment calls, giving their opinions on how good each team really is, and that determines how strong your resume is. It’s challenging because these subjective rankings do not give teams in the AAC a fair review. Not many teams want to play UCF, USF, Memphis, Navy, etc. Navy had a 17 game home winning streak before we broke it this year.”
Going forward, the Knights want to finish what they started. “They definitely want to continue what they’ve started and play great football. They want to be respected for what they accomplish on the field,” later stated Carr.
As for the playoffs, the most controversial aspect of the situation, Carr believes that “we [The NCAA] need to develop a system where no team finishes the season undefeated without a chance to play in the CFP Playoff. They need to expand the field to 8 teams with 6 conference champion slots that include the AAC Champion. Have two at-large spots and if any team is undefeated, they automatically make the playoff.”
The UCF Knights will be looking to be even better next season, and show the NCAA and everyone why they deserve a playoff spot.