Central Florida has not backed down from its claim of a national championship following an unbeaten run through the 2017 season.
But the man who led that run, Scott Frost, seems to think the school may have gone a bit overboard.
In an interview with USA Today, Frost, who coached UCF in 2016 and 2017 before taking the head-coaching job at Nebraska, his alma mater, said he would have had a difficult time continually boasting about a purported national title if he stayed at the school.
“All I’ll say is if we had stayed there, I would have had a hard time getting behind it,” Frost said. “I think it was smart by them, because it has kept UCF in the media and in the conversation. But you know, like our rings, I kind of wish my ring just said ‘Undefeated Season’ and ‘Peach Bowl Champion.’ ”
Frost inherited a team that was winless (0-12) in 2015 and turned it completely in the other direction. The Knights cruised through the regular season and beat Memphis to win the American Athletic Conference title. Despite being 12-0, UCF came in at No. 12 in the final College Football Playoff rankings.
From there, UCF moved on to the Peach Bowl as the representative of the Group of Five conferences in the New Year’s Six bowl games. And after a 34-27 upset over Auburn, the SEC runner-up, athletic director Danny White immediately declared the 13-0 Knights — the only undefeated team in the FBS — to be national champions. And he and the school continued to do so even after Alabama won the College Football Playoff national title.
It rubbed some folks the wrong way, but White was making a point. When UCF was ranked No. 14 in the CFP selection committee’s second-to-last rankings, White told Yahoo Sports he “couldn’t accept the lack of respect” for the AAC. CFP executive director Bill Hancock justified UCF’s low ranking by pointing to the team’s strength of schedule.
White didn’t buy that line of thinking and said the committee has “an inherent bias that needs to be called out.” After the Peach Bowl, Frost reiterated that perspective and said it looked like there was a “conscious effort” from the CFP committee to “make sure they didn’t have a problem if they put (UCF) too high.”
Frost has not backed down from that stance.
“I completely get behind their argument,” Frost says. “I do think it was almost criminal how low they kept UCF in the rankings, and I think it was intentional. But at the end of the day, the playoff system is that the national champion is the team that wins the playoff.”
No matter your take on the matter, UCF’s season — national champions or not — paid major financial dividends for the school. In March, the school claimed the team’s last three games of the 2017 season — wins over South Florida, Memphis and Auburn — earned it more than $171 million in exposure.
And maybe the whole thing will cause the CFP selection committee to take Group of Five teams more seriously moving forward.
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