UCF’s undefeated record highlights what’s still wrong with the College Football Playoff system



Photo: SI.com

No. 12 UCF downed No. 7 Auburn 34-27 Monday at the Peach Bowl completing their undefeated 2017 campaign and while becoming the only FBS team to accomplish the feat this season.

The win itself had UCF players and personnel alike proclaiming themselves as National Champions. Knights QB McKenzie Milton after the game said “You can just go ahead and cancel the College Football Playoff” while AD Danny White outright came out to say that his Knights were in fact National Champions.

Linebacker Shaquem Griffin commented saying “There’s no more teams left to beat” as outgoing head coach Scott Frost (who’s on his way to Nebraska) believed there was a “conscious effort” to prevent UCF from sneaking into the College Football Playoffs.

Now whether or not the CFB Committee was actively trying to prevent the Knights from playing is the playoff is dabbing in conspiracy theory however what UCF was able to accomplish this season certainly highlights just how imperfect the system still is.

First UCF’s undefeated season further illustrates the inconsistencies of the CFB process in selecting their teams. For the most part, Alabama’s selection over Ohio State happened because the committee favorited wins over strength of schedule.

If that was the case shouldn’t UCF have received the nod for a spot in the playoff?

Ehh… possibly. Again it’s an example but much like the system itself not a perfect example. I’ll explain more about that here shortly.

Second, there’s definitely something to be said about the Knights beating Auburn who in turn defeated the two playoff teams who are about to play for the National Title in Alabama and Georgia.

In any sense, beating a Tigers team who took down the Crimson Tide and the Bulldogs isn’t justification to proclaim yourselves National Champs, it is however certainly a pretty big statement when the question is asked whether or not you belong?

But under the current system do the Knights deserve a shot over the likes of Oklahoma, Georgia, Alabama or Clemson?

Tuesday, Deadspin asked that same question seemingly having some sympathy for UCF but pointing out one glaring problem with the Knights’ run, their strength of schedule.

schedule matters. By dint of a soft non-conference schedule and of being in the AAC, UCF didn’t play a ranked team until the conference title game (and even that win over No. 20 Memphis required two overtimes). UCF had beaten everybody, but they hadn’t beaten anybody.

It’s entirely possible for both sides here to be right in their grievences against the system and UCF. And yes, the committee has already shown (this season at least) that wins were more important than quality of wins as I’ve mentioned prior. However Central Florida’s berth in the playoff would have been a gross exageration of that stipulation. Not facing a ranked team until the conference title game should be detremental to your chances at making the playoffs. If that wasn’t the case, we could very well see a complete reversal of the teams receiving the opportunity to play in the College Football Playoff.

Instead of arguing over Ohio State, Alabama and UCF we could very well be fielding arguments over UCF, Troy and Boise State.

Either way, UCF presents the CFB committee and the FBS with another reason why the playoffs need to be expanded.

Sure, getting rid of the BCS and implementing the four team playoff was a step in the right direction for college football postseason that undoubtedly needed some kind of overhaul. An eight team playoff would be further improvement however why continue to take unnecessary baby steps in this process and just go right for the throat of the problem.

Essentially a 16-team playoff needs to happen.

Not only will a 16-team playoff get rid of a lot more of the controversy surrounding “deserving” teams, it’ll place an even higher priority on winning your conference.

With the 16-team format you get all of the winners of the 11 FBS conferences which would include Central Florida plus a further safety net for five more at-large teams to round out the field. Not only that you can keep the bowls in place which would represent the games played within each round while the New Years Six bowl games can be reserved for the semifinal games (or the College Football Final Four, has a ring to it doesn’t it?) and second round games (or the College Football Elite 8).

Meanwhile the opening round games can rotate in and out the lower tiered Bowl games, perhaps going to the highest bidding sponsor? Otherwise you can still have the other bowl games no one cares about reserved for the teams who were bowl eligible but didn’t make the 16-team playoff.

Anyways here would be this year’s list of qualifiers:

ACC: Clemson
Big 12: Oklahoma
Big Ten: Ohio State
Independent: Notre Dame
Mid-American: Toledo
Mountain West: Boise State
Pac 12: USC
SEC: Georgia
Sun Belt: Troy
Conference USA: FAU

The at-large teams would be your area of further controversy, but once again no system is completely perfect. What we have below is simply that safety net for teams who probably deserve to be in.

You can also implement certain rules such as no one conference can have more than one at-large team. If that was the case here’s how the at-large teams could possible shake out:

At-large #1: Alabama
At-large #2: Wisconsin
At-large #3: Miami (FL)
At-large #4: Washington
At-large #5: Army

So there you have it. UCF is happy and given the opportunity to further prove their worth while College Football is happy as a whole since Alabama too also makes it.

December Madness could be a real thing. Make it happen.

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