clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Underdog Dynasty Roundtable: UCF said they are National Champs. What now?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - UCF v Auburn Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Mountain West Wire’s Jeremy Mauss and Hustle Belt’s James Jimenez join the Underdog Dynasty Roundtable to share their thoughts on UCF’s claim of a national title and whether it’ll mean anything for the Group of 5 going forward.

What was your reaction to UCF being left out of CFP and how the committed ranked UCF throughout the season?

Cyrus Smith: Not really surprised UCF was left out of the playoff. Was more surprised in how the committee continued slight UCF and not rank them in the Top 10. Their performance in the bowl game should be a black mark for the committee, as we should see a new faces on the committee in 2018.

Jeremy Mauss: Not surprised one bit and why should we? They are from a non-power league and also had few quality wins to show for it. Beating Memphis, USF and Navy are solid wins but the committee will question how good those teams are just because they are in the AAC. Those saying had they rescheduled the Georgia Tech game they might have had a chance are nuts because they were a 5-7 team and that would have done nothing to get them to a higher placement in the rankings.

I think they should have been in the backend of the top 10. You have to look at history too. A few years ago when Marshall was real good but had a poor schedule they were finally ranked only after being either 10-0 or 11-0. A team from the G5 needs to crush teams and beat quality P5 teams to be in the mix. Yet, the former on blowouts can be skinned by playing bad teams and thus stunt its ranking.

To get respect from this system a team must have a multi-year run (which is unfair as P5 teams are not held to that standard) and to get close to the playoff they will have to beat teams like Stanford, Ohio State, Georgia and Oklahoma all in the same year.

James Jimenez: Indifference, mostly. Though, that isn’t to say it’s not frustrating: I’m just used to it by now. I went back and did some research on where teams were ranked heading into the final weeks of the season by both the committee poll and the AP poll and found out that it fit the normal pattern of practice since the Playoff was first established. The AP polls tend to give benefit of the doubt to G5 teams, often ranking them three or four spots higher than the Committee Polls do. In one instance (2014) 20th-ranked Boise State (11-2) was the only team ranked in the Committee Poll at the end of the season despite the AP poll placing the Broncos 16th while also recognizing fellow G5’s Marshall (12-1) and Memphis (10-3).

Speaking on a personal level, WMU’s run in 2016 was especially frustrating, as the committee kept WMU at 21 for three weeks in a row despite its undefeated record and made them fight with Houston, Boise State and Navy for the Cotton Bowl spot despite all those teams having one or two losses apiece (at one point, they were ranked behind two of those three teams.)

That flew in the face of the AP Polls, which ranked WMU at 17th when the Committee released its first poll (putting WMU 23rd), and held WMU steady at 14th or 13th during that weird stretch where WMU was kept at 21 in the committee ranking behind, you guessed it, multiple two, three or even four-loss Power Five squads.

But UCF’s run, in particular, was amazing in multiple ways. They can claim four Top 25 victories, including a top 10 win vs. Auburn, who beat two playoff contenders. And that’s even before you look at the stats they produced on the offensive and defensive fronts. UCF did everything they could to force the issue and the committee essentially chose to ignore the effort. It’s insulting.

How do you feel about UCF claiming a natty?

CS: I like the fact that it’s pissed so many P5 leaders and ESPN pundits. UCF Athletic Director Danny White has made just about every correct move in this ordeal. He’s perfectly branded UCF as the national champs, threw a parade, and created national championship merchandise.

It also helps that the Orlando Sentinel has backed the school so to speak, and has moved the conversation forward in a way that reflects positively on UCF. The only mistake he’s made is paying the coaches national championship bonuses. If they had stayed, the gimmick would have been fine but they are in Lincoln now.

JM: Dumb and smart, really. The NCAA still does not hand out an FBS national title so there is not an “official” national one. The AP sent out a tweet that its voters are not required to vote the playoff champ No. 1.

However, unless an outlet gives them a title it is just self gratification. It is not like it was a few decades ago where there was the UPI, AP, coaches and a few other outlets crowning titles, or handing out hardware prior to bowl games. Alabama’s official national titles are skewed but those titles can be traced to an organization who had them No. 1. UCF likely will not get that from a major publication.

Outlets were suckered in (I guess we are guilty as well) to writing about UCF and giving the school free publicity was a smart move from their end to self-proclaim a title. That is the big win for the Knights. However, paying out coaches bonuses was stupid and a waste of cash.

JJ: As an avid fan of the Dan LeBatard Show with Stu Gotz, I am ecstatic they’re forcing the issue on the national stage and especially on ESPN, which is the exclusive partner of the College Football Playoff. They’ve really been on the boat for a couple weeks now and it’s superbly satisfying to see how agitated the college sports world is about these upstarts upsetting the balance as if claiming a national championships is some sort of crime (looking right at you, Alabama.)

I’m honestly surprised more teams don’t do it, actually. There are many G5 schools (former or current) which could lay claim to a national title, including TCU, Utah and Boise, and it’s not like there isn’t precendent. Just last season, Oklahoma State appealed for and was awarded a retroactive championship from a season where they didnt get a single first-place AP Poll vote... in 1945. They took it from the Army. THE ARMY.

IF WMU could have completed the deal last year (and they nearly did!), I would consider them 2016’s national champion, as much as it would pain me as a CMU alum.

Who benefits most from UCF’s season: The AAC and the P6 movement or the G5?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 28 Missouri at UConn
The Power 6 movement will only get louder when media days come around.
Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

CS: Is it weird to proclaim no one? We’ve seen P5 leaders sort of band together and take shots at UCF’s claim of a national championship. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any of the G5 leaders go back at them.

Here is a perfect opportunity to demand some sort of reform and make suggestions that’ll make the opportunity of winning a national championship more fair for all and we received none of that. Danny White has trumpeted his school and rightfully so, but neither UCF, the AAC, or the rest of the G5 have moved the conversation forward where serious dialogue is taking place so this doesn’t happen again. This thing just seems like a flash in the pan and as a fan and alum of FAU, a team that could be in this very same situation next season, that sucks.

JM: UCF in the short term with this coverage and the AAC will trot out its still ridiculous American Power mantra. It just proves that the best team from the G5 can beat a good P5 team but that is the exception rather than the rule. The credit goes to that G5 team itself and no one else.

JJ: Honestly, I don’t think it benefits either party. The way I see it is that the committee looks at this particular set of circumstances as an anomaly caused exclusively by this particular team in UCF. If you replace UCF with any other G5 team and give them the same resume, it would be the same discussion. Where the difference might lie would be how that other G5 team would handle the situation. So, if you look at it from that lens, this is extremely easy to ignore and thus it wouldn’t be of benefit to anyone.

It certainly doesn’t help the “Power Six” movement, as Big 12 commish Bob Bowlsby trashed the conference in some recent media comments and lumped them in with the dreaded G5. It doesn’t help the G5 either in that one of its conferences put out the most perfect candidate possible and still couldn’t garner any respect. It’s a lose-lose, the way I see it.

How should the G5 capitalize UCF’s claim of a National Championship and that the general public is starting to realize how rigged the CFP is for the P5?

CS: They should use this as an opportunity to demand more representation on the committee. More importantly, they should really start thinking about what college football is going to be like after the current contract for the 4-team playoff is up. The G5 has always reacted to the P5 when it comes to huge changes in the college football landscape and it’s time for that to change. Behind closed doors they should really start entertaining ways to implement relegation.

JM: The thing is you won’t hear the commissioners from any other G5 league talk specifically about UCF claiming a national title. Everyone knows it is silly and made up.

Rather it should be pointed out the best G5 team deserves to be in the conversation for the playoff. The G5 teams are 3-1 in New Year’s Six games and during the BCS era only lost three times and one of those was when the committee pitted the WAC and Mountain West champ against each other.

Not sure about the public’s take on a new playoff format as it will eventually expand, but it will come not because of anything to do with G5 teams but poor TV ratings -- which Monday’s game might provide -- or Power 5 leagues keep getting left out.

JJ: For one, they shouldn’t use this as a rallying cry for a G5 playoff, which is an actual, legitimate thing I’ve seen recirculating recently. If there’s anything the G5 can do, it’s to fight for more representation for its member conferences in the Playoff Committee. Currently, there’s only two representatives from G5 conferences in the room of 13.

Use the leverage to fight for more representation (or for more fair representation) from within first and if that doesn’t work, advocate for the expansion of the Playoff. My personal model would see a playoff with 10 conference champions, giving BYES to 1 and 2, using the access bowl system as a base.