As my alma mater, it’s a wonderful feeling to finally be able to say it: Congratulations to the UCF Knights, 2017 College Football National Champions.
With their undefeated season and triumph over Auburn—who defeated both Georgia and Alabama—in the Peach Bowl on New Year’s Day, the Knights sealed the deal on a season for the ages that saw them go 13-0 two years removed from going 0-12.
Oh wait—Alabama are actually National Champions? Yes, of course they are. But UCF’s Athletic Director Danny White has shown his public relations bona fides by talking up the University of Central Florida as the true holders of the title, generating elation, confusion, and anger. But most of all: he’s generated conversation.
A PR masterstroke.
By declaring UCF as National Champions, Danny White is driving the debate over the way in which the College Football Playoff Committee decides who is worthy of inclusion into the four-team playoff. As a non-Power 5 school, UCF has zero opportunity to break in to the top-four and secure a spot in the playoffs, even if plays a perfect season.
So what does Danny White do? Proclaims the Knights as the real champs. Sells “National Champions” merchandise. Changes UCF Football’s Twitter handle to “2017 National Champions.” Throws a parade at Disney World.
All of this has continued the talk of UCF’s victory over Auburn on major cable sports outlets and print publications like Sports Illustrated and The New York Times. PR brilliance. A week after the Peach Bowl, major media is still discussing UCF and the College Football Playoff system.
Do Danny White and former coach Scott Frost really believe that UCF are the rightful champions? If you got them into a dark room I guarantee they’d tell you otherwise. But with White sounding the bullhorn with his controversial stance on how teams are chosen to participate in the playoffs, he’s bringing awareness to a system that dreadfully needs reformation.
So here’s to you, UCF: you’re National Champs to me.