There is one caveat to the silliness.
One diamond in the pathetic, bordering on the “everyone gets a trophy for participating” rough that the University of Central Florida is perpetuating with its national-championship claims, parades and banners.
That being … it will push the envelope ever further toward expanding the College Football Playoff.
Make no mistake, when push comes to shove, money ultimately will be the deciding factor on that. Once the temptation of revenue generated projections outweigh the cries about player safety, product dilution or, simply, change, we will be seeing more than four teams being subjectively chosen to battle things out for all the marbles.
But performances like the one UCF just slapped down on the table – 13-0 season, Peach Bowl champion after beating a top-10 team in Atlanta on New Year’s Day, nation’s top scoring offense – will be what get those discussions rolling, that will get more people to realize that, hey, maybe high-quality grid programs actually exist outside of the Power 5 conferences. That, hmmm, here we have the best sport there is, but he most moronic and prejudiced, blinders-wearing way of determining a champion that there is.
Sorry to those of you who only feel comfy in a cocoon that says merely the likes of Alabama, Oklahoma and Ohio State matter. That’s just impending reality. Start preparing to be a little shaken in the future.
Thing is, the fact the Knights never had a shot to compete for top honors – regardless of what they did (even if that included beating Alabama or Georgia, or both, this season) – screams that there is an inherent flaw in the system. The way it is constituted, or rather practiced by those calling the shots, any team that doesn’t call the SEC, the Big Ten, the Big 12, the Pac-12 or the ACC home doesn’t count.
Well, they can scratch and claw with all the have-nots for that one bone – the January 1 bowl bid that could, if all things go right, go to a non-Power 5 school.
Talk about silly.
The same rationale that UCF didn’t play anyone comes from the same mentality that comically justifies that rationale by ranking the Knights’ opponents in heavily biased fashion. Am here to tell you, UCF played three top 25-caliber teams this season, and one of them – Memphis – twice.
The one given is Auburn. Having beaten Alabama and Georgia, and being a member of the SEC, its No. 7 standing to enter the holiday season was unquestioned. But anyone who wants to profess “eye test” as a parameter for grading teams looking at Memphis and South Florida at any point this season, and didn’t recognize both were at that level all along, well, you might wanna get some glasses.
Strength of schedule? Not for nothing, but Alabama and Georgia both played a pair of 4-win teams and 5-win Vanderbilt. UCF gets killed for facing Austin Peay. Really? Georgia took on Samford and ’Bama squared off with Mercer.
Not claiming that UCF would prevail against either of Monday night’s combatants in the national title game. That isn't the point. We really don't know.
What is the point, both Alabama and Georgia got hammered by Auburn during the regular season … and the Knights beat the Tigers. They earned the right to show us if they could beat either.
Detractors of any non-Power 5 getting credit are quick to point out that Auburn felt it had nothing to play for on New Year’s Day, that its heart just wasn’t in it to go all out after losing its opportunity to reach the playoff by falling to Georgia in their rematch.
OK, fine. Now own that UCF had lost its head coach, Scott Frost, in the midst of its greatest hour as a program … and that the players weren’t exactly thrilled that he opted to stick around to coach them through the Peach Bowl when he wasn’t out recruiting for Nebraska.
Just keep it real, people. Being silly, otherwise.