UCF still claims its title
The University of Central Florida is doing its best to erase any bit of sympathy it might deserve (in my opinion, it deserves NONE) from going 13-0 and not being selected for the College Football Playoff.
After coach Scott Frost, who is taking over his alma mater, Nebraska, and athletic director Danny White (yes, the same Danny White who played for the Cowboys) claimed the CFP consciously and deliberately kept the Knights out of the top four to keep the power schools in the playoff (read: Alabama), now UCF says it will fly a national championship flag over Spectrum Stadium.
UCF has nobody to blame but itself for not putting together a strong enough non-conference schedule in order to gain more respect from the CFP committee and those who vote in the Associated Press and coaches polls.
The Knights have FOUR non-conference dates to play with, unlike the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12, which have nine conference games and only three conference games. If UCF wanted to gain respect, it would only schedule Power 5 conference opponents (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC), and would make every effort to play at least one of those Power 5 schools in the Sunshine State (Florida, Florida State or Miami).
If UCF has to play three or all four of its non-conference opponents away from Orlando, that’s the breaks. Why would Alabama, for instance, give up a home game in its 102,000-seat stadium in Tuscaloosa to play in UCF’s 45,000-seat stadium? Even if UCF moved the game to Camping World Stadium, where the Citrus and Camping World bowls are played, it would still fall 30,000 seats short of what Bryant-Denny holds. Why in the world would the Crimson Tide want to give up millions in ticket revenue, not to mention what would be taken out of the economy of Tuscaloosa, just in the name of fairness?
If it were up to Nick Saban, the Group of Five schools would not have the chance to play the Alabamas of the world. Saban would rather the Power Five schools play only other Power Five schools, and I see his point. Saban cannot schedule this way at Alabama because the athletic department claims it needs seven home games to pay the bills. The Tide could still schedule someone lesser, say Kansas or Oregon State, instead of Mercer, Charleston Southern, Chattanooga or Florida A&M, and not to have to return the trip.
When Bobby Bowden was hired at Florida State in 1976, the Seminoles were not anywhere near the power they were in the 1990s and recently under Jimbo Fisher. To get the Seminoles publicity, he took on any all comers, and played most of them away from Tallahassee.
For instance, the Seminoles played LSU five consecutive seasons from 1979-83. All five games were in Baton Rouge, where Tiger Stadium seated 30,000 more than Doak Campbell in Tallahassee. Florida State won four of the five, losing only in 1982. Florida State also made trips to Ohio State and Nebraska without the Buckeyes and Cornhuskers coming to the Florida panhandle.
The only major teams which played in Tallahassee consistently were Florida and Miami, simply because there were long-standing deals in place for home-and-home series.
When the Seminoles began to win and win big, Doak Campbell was expanded to the point where it was financially feasible for the powerhouses Florida State always played on the road to come to Tallahassee, and those teams did make their way south.
Could UCF play its way into a Power Five conference? If Virginia Tech ever defects to the SEC, then UCF might be a candidate to move into the ACC. But if the Knights want that respect, it has to be earned.
The title game is Monday night in Atlanta between Alabama and Georgia. Sorry, UCF. You are undefeated but not a champion.