Masin-Moyer: UCF deserves recognition as this year’s national champion
Lucas Masin-Moyer | Thursday, January 25, 2018
In what has become an increasingly rare occurrence over the past nine years, the University of Alabama did not win the college football national championship.
I mean sure, they brought a trophy back to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, after a thrilling win over Georgia on Jan. 8, had a big parade and celebrated with all the pageantry associated with a national title, but despite what the cartel that dictates the annual Playoff or anyone else says, this year’s champion made their name under the sunny skies of Orlando, Florida.
That’s right, this year’s true national champion is Scott Frost’s University of Central Florida (UCF) Knights, a self-pinned badge they’ve worn with honor.
And why shouldn’t they claim the title? The Knights put up a 13-0 record, the only undefeated mark this season, and outclassed nearly every team they played, beating eight opponents by 25 or more points.
The Knights’ case becomes all the more compelling when examining other teams which have claimed national titles with far less merit. For example, the 1941 Alabama Crimson Tide claim and recognize their team’s national title in a year when they went 9-2, were ranked No. 20 in the final AP poll and finished third in the SEC.
But while the fact that the college football community at-large refuses to recognize UCF’s national title is an injustice, it falls far short of the injustice inflicted on the Knights by the College Football Playoff committee.
Before delving too deeply into the committee itself, I’d like to just compare UCF’s resume to Alabama’s on the morning of the release of the Playoff bracket.
We’ll start with non-conference schedule.
First up, the Crimson Tide.
Alabama was 4-0 in nonconference play with wins over a mediocre ACC team (Florida State), a reasonably good mid-major team (Fresno State), a middling mid-major (Colorado State) and an FCS Team (Mercer).
UCF went 3-0 in nonconference play with wins over a mediocre Big Ten team (Maryland), a decent mid-major (Florida International) and an FCS team (Austin Peay) with a game cancelled against a mediocre ACC team (Georgia Tech).
Overall, I’d say it’s a wash.
Up next, top-25 wins.
Alabama had two, against Mississippi State and LSU, while UCF had three — beating South Florida and Memphis twice.
Zero for UCF, one for Alabama — to Auburn, who, by the way, UCF then beat in the Peach Bowl.
Finally let’s look at conference championships.
UCF? They got one in a thrilling overtime victory over Memphis. Alabama? They sat at home and watched as Georgia took the SEC crown with a victory over Auburn in Atlanta.
I think it’s pretty clear, based on resume alone, that the Knights should have made the Playoff over the Crimson Tide.
Now, when pundits and the committee defend the choice, they’ll often cite the “eye test,” essentially that Alabama just looked better.
While there may be some merit to this, I think there’s something bigger at play.
For all its heralded strengths as a departure from the BCS, the College Football Playoff still has its major flaws, namely, it favors teams in Power-5 conferences.
Whether it be because of the money these big names bring in or the reputation they’ve created from past successes, Power-5 teams are undoubtedly given a leg up in the committee’s rankings.
Despite doing the most it could possibly do with this schedule, UCF was ranked No. 12 in the final College Football Playoff rankings, behind five one-loss teams, five two-loss teams and one three-loss team.
This disrespect begins to make more sense when looking at the members that make up the committee.
Every member of the committee — bar Lt. Gen. Michael Gould, a graduate of Air Force — is tied to a Power-5 school or Notre Dame.
Whether it be conscious or subconscious, the members of the committee are overlooking schools which don’t resemble their own, even when these teams have equal or better resumes.
If UCF — who put together a near perfect resume — wasn’t even in consideration for a Playoff spot, no mid-major ever will be afforded the opportunity. And if it will never get the opportunity to prove itself, it might as well claim the title itself.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.