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An asterisk doesn’t make UCF a national champion

UCF national title

The NCAA has created a problem it had no business creating. A new era of “claimed” national championships has officially begun.

Leave it up to the NCAA to muddy the waters when it comes to college football. The NCAA released its annual list of both individual and team records listing UCF as a national champion. The justification given by the NCAA was found under the asterisk by UCF’s name:

“Beginning in 2014, the College Football Playoff was used to determine the national champions in FBS. All ‘major selectors’ not otherwise listed also selected the CFP champion as its highest ranked team in those seasons. In years where a ‘major selector’ has a team other than the CFP champion as its highest ranked team in its final poll that team is listed below the CFP Champion.”

The NCAA includes the Colley Matrix, a poll used during the Bowl Championship Series era to help rank teams, as a “major selector.” The Colley Matrix had UCF as its national champion for the 2017 season.

As if college football needed this type of archaic reasoning when it comes to naming a national championship. This is actually my fault. I should have known better than to believe that a college football playoff was going to actually solve these kinds of problems.

Claimed national championships are nothing new to college football. The sport’s rankings, for the most part, used to be a Wild West of journalists and media who would vote on their national champion based primarily on the teams they saw from week to week. With only radio and the integrity of other journalists writing about teams beyond the reach of a train ride, media members didn’t have the luxury of television or the internet to watch teams all across the country. The result was years of split, multiple and generally debated national champions who didn’t play teams far from where they were and bowl games often being the deciding factor of who was named champion by what outlet.

Through the years, teams have lobbied for “claimed” national championships based on years’ old information. In 2012, Texas A&M added national titles from 1919 and 1927 to its “Wall of Champions.” Auburn has debated claiming titles from 1983, 1993 and 2004.

By recognizing anyone other than the team who won the national championship game, the NCAA allows chaos to be the ship’s captain. Why?

I don’t have a good answer.

Does this cheapen Alabama’s win against Georgia. Not at all.

UCF had a tremendous year going undefeated and beating Auburn in the Peach Bowl. But that’s not enough. An asterisk based on a model that is flawed doesn’t make your gripe legitimate and neither does this faux championship. Future fans will believe that UCF did something so incredible that it was arguably on par with what Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, or Oklahoma did by making the Playoff.

It wasn’t.

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