post

The UCF Critics are Missing the Point

There has been a lot of debate surrounding UCF’s claim of a National Championship, following their defeat of Auburn in Monday’s Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. One side is claiming it to be ridiculous, looking at their proclamation as illogical by mocking their bold statement. This group is primarily made up of SEC elitists that have discredited UCF’s 13-0 season by citing their weak schedule and diminishing their win over Auburn by questioning the Tigers’ motivation in the game following an SEC Championship Game loss that knocked them out of the Playoff.

In the other corner, there is the group that has mostly defended UCF all season, claiming they should have had a fair shot at the National Championship, despite the schedule that was perceived as very weak in the eyes of the College Football Playoff Committee. This is a committee that ranked teams with two and three losses ahead of UCF with the argument that those teams played a much tougher schedule.

UCF’s victory over Auburn served as vindication that they did, in fact, deserve to be in the National Championship conversation. This belief was backed up by the fact that Auburn defeated both teams in Monday’s Championship Game earlier in the season. If we applied the transitive property, the logic is very sound.

But despite the arguments, nothing will magically insert UCF into Monday’s game, nor pit them against the winner the following week. So, UCF Athletic Director, Danny White took matters into his own hands by proclaiming UCF as National Champions. He has gone as far to commit to putting up a banner in Spectrum Stadium and honoring the bonuses built into the contract of the coaching staff for winning a National Championship.

But if you think these actions are only about an unofficial proclamation of a championship that the biggest critics think is delusional, you might be missing the point. That is just the tip of the iceberg. This action by UCF has forced the football program into the national sports conversation this whole week. This is completely foreign territory for the Knights. Sure, they had their fifteen minutes of fame following a Fiesta Bowl win over Baylor four years ago. But while that 2013 season helped put the UCF Knights on the map, they essentially became lost and forgotten from the national perspective of the college football landscape the following season.

The program calling itself National Champs is an attempt to prevent that from happening again. It’s a message to the rest of college football that UCF is a nationally relevant program and is here to stay. So far, it is working. This week, several prominent current and former college football coaches and analysts have weighed in on UCF’s accomplishments and the merits behind the idea of them being National Champions.

Just yesterday, former long-time FSU Head Coach Bobby Bowden voiced his support for UCF calling themselves National Champions. 

“I’ll be honest with you, they deserve [the national title], in my opinion,” the retired coach said in an interview with The World-Herald.

“But they won’t win it because they’re not in the Power Five, you know? But you take Auburn in November, probably the hottest team in the country, Auburn beat No. 1 and No. 2, then Central Florida beats them. And so I think they got a right to claim it. But the NCAA won’t recognize it.”

The full story on Knight News can be found here.

His detailed quote leads right to the other issue at play and more importantly the next component of UCF’s motivation behind their championship claim. It is an indirect protest of the current system that makes it virtually impossible for a Group of 5 team to earn a spot in the College Football Playoff. If the 12-0 UCF Knights can only rise to as high as #12 in the rankings, how can any other Group of 5 program have any hope in future years?

The only exception may be if one of those programs is lucky enough to secure an out-of-conference schedule that includes Alabama, Clemson, and Oklahoma. The problem? Those schools and others at that level will never schedule games against those top Group of 5 programs. Why? Because they have nothing to gain and everything to lose by doing so. There isn’t any incentive.

The current system we have in place is a corrupt and biased one. We have a committee that has shown the evidence of making a conscious effort to block Group of 5 from ever sniffing the playoff. UCF is exposing that problem and for now, they are getting exactly what they want – a national conversation about it.

I have written previously about the need to expand the playoff, and this has been a season to support it. But this time it has been for different reasons. Every year an argument can be made for the teams just outside the playoff field to get a spot. That will always be an issue regardless of how big the playoff field gets. Just look at the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, which has a field of 68 teams. There is always an argument put up for the 69th and 70th team.

But what the basketball tournament has is a way for teams of the Mid-Major conferences (the basketball equivalent of the Group of 5) to earn a spot. For them it’s simple. Win your conference and you’re automatically in the tournament. There isn’t a biased and elitist committee that can exercise their power to block those teams from proving their worth in a real game because they weren’t impressed with their regular season schedule. It all gets settled on the floor, as it should be settled on the football field.

Thanks to UCF, this is something that is now getting further examined and their proclamation of a National Championship is only the first domino to fall. It may be naive to suggest anything significant will change next season. But whether the playoff field expands and guarantees a spot or more to Group of 5 teams, or the selection criteria changes, I can safely say this was the first significant step for college football to become a more fair and even-level playing field. It may not fix the revenue gap between the Power 5 and Group of 5, but I feel good about the potential for a more fair playoff system becoming a reality sooner than later.

Source Credits:

https://twitter.com/

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/

https://www.theroot.com/

http://www.espn.com/

 

 

post

Despite Frost’s Departure, UCF is a Sleeping Giant

The past week has been an unbelievable roller coaster for the UCF Knights Football Program. Rumors of Scott Frost’s departure for Nebraska continued to mount on the eve of the AAC Championship Game against the Memphis Tigers. Following a thrilling victory in double overtime, the rumors became reality and the Knights were without a coach as they were extended an invitation to the Peach Bowl to play the Auburn Tigers on New Year’s Day. Despite what looked like a shaky situation, all signs point to UCF being able to continue their momentum and taking the next step as a football program.

As far as Group of 5 Programs, UCF has been one of the best programs since 2007. Thanks to Saturday’s AAC Championship game win over Memphis, UCF will earn their second trip to a New Year’s Six/BCS Bowl since 2013. UCF is the only Group of 5 program with that distinction. The Knights are one of 15 FBS teams since 2013 to play in multiple New Year’s/BCS Bowl Games.

Teams to Play in Multiple New Year’s Six/BCS Bowls Since 2013

5 Alabama
5 Ohio State
4 Florida State
4 Oklahoma
4 Clemson
3 Michigan State
2 Washington
2 Auburn
2 UCF
2 Baylor
2 Stanford
2 USC
2 Penn State
2 Ole Miss
2 Wisconsin

That’s a pretty special group of storied, big-time college football programs that UCF is a member of as well. From 2007-2016, the Knights have won 10+ games four times, played in seven bowl games while winning three. That’s a pretty good span of success over a ten-year span. Now insert a historic, undefeated 2017 season as the highest scoring team in the nation.

It’s been a storybook season minus the cloud of Scott Frost to Nebraska rumors that grew darker through November until becoming reality this past weekend. The news broke that Frost would be accepting the Nebraska job during overtime of UCF’s thrilling 62-55 win over Memphis.

Under normal circumstances, a fan base would be completely elated to celebrate their third conference title in five years. But this was not a normal circumstance. As much as fans were cheering, the mood in the stadium turned bittersweet as the video board focused on Frost, who was clearly trying to hold back his emotions. During this sequence, he exchanged a few words with outgoing UCF President, Dr. John Hitt in what I imagine Dr. Hitt was taking the time to express his appreciation for what Scott Frost did for the football program in such a short period of time.

By applying logic, Scott Frost cannot be faulted for taking the opportunity to return home to Nebraska to coach his alma mater. It’s a dream job. And while we found out in a story on Monday that the decision was much tougher than anyone thought it would be, Frost did what we expected by accepting the job to become the Cornhuskers next Head Coach.

Despite UCF fans being able to understand and accept Frost’s departure after only two seasons, it’s hard not to still be disappointed. For years I watched big-time Power 5 programs poach successful coaches from Group of 5 programs. It’s an unconscionable system that takes a coach from his team, usually before the big bowl game that getting to was the major goal of the season.

On top of that, it leaves the team in purgatory before the unavoidable process of starting over with a new coach, culture, and class of incoming players. It’s nearly impossible for a good Group of 5 program to sustain success due to inevitable departure of the coach for a bigger job with more money and resources.

Naturally, it’s easy for UCF fans to feel uneasy about the near future. In a way, it’s a Catch-22 because if the best case scenario occurs and UCF comes back strong, what is standing in the way of this process repeating itself within the next couple years? That’s a fair question.

The head coaching job was vacant for less than 72 hours as UCF announced the hiring of Josh Heupel, former Missouri offensive coordinator Monday afternoon. Heupel draws multiple similarities to Scott Frost. Both are former National Championship winning quarterbacks from the Big 12 who served as successful OC’s of major programs before taking the reins at UCF.

UCF athletic director Danny White deserves a lot of credit for not just acting quickly following Frost’s departure, but for working in a $10 million buyout into Heupel’s contract. Clearly White wanted to make a hire that appears to be a seamless transition on paper while doing what he can to prevent another quick exit (Frost’s buyout was $3 million).

UCF fans should be just as excited about the hiring of defensive coordinator Randy Shannon. Shannon recently held the same title with the University of Florida. In addition to Shannon’s credentials as a defensive coach, his recruiting connections to Miami, a historically talent-rich area cannot be understated.

The program has the right people in place to build off the momentum from this historic season. Former head coach George O’Leary did a tremendous job putting UCF on the map in from the mid-2000s before stepping down in 2015. Scott Frost became the first coach to take an 0-12 team to a bowl the following season in 2016, before following up with a 12-0 campaign this season. Now the program is in the hands of a well-respected coaching staff with great recruiting ties.

UCF may still be in the Group of 5, which can certainly be limiting considering their media revenue is roughly 10% of their Power 5 counterparts. Given what UCF has accomplished over the past decade, the size of the university, tv market and upgraded facilities, I have to think their time outside the Power 5 is limited.

It may not be until the early 2020’s until the realignment discussion creeps up again, as the end of the major TV deals draw close. At this rate, there is no question UCF will be one of the most attractive candidates to make the move to a conference like the ACC, SEC or Big 12. And based on what they have been able to accomplish with very limited resources in comparison to major in-state programs like Florida, Florid, and Miami, the sky’s the limit for what UCF can be once they finally get a seat at the table.

 

Source Credits: 

http://www.tampabay.com/sports/college/UCF-s-foes-in-AAC-title-game-Memphis-and-USF-hangover_163150368

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2017/12/02/frost-returning-to-nebraska-after-leading-ucfs-turnaround/108237108/

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/ucf-knights/knights-notepad/os-sp-ucf-josh-heupel-new-coach-20171205-story.html

post

Players Who Sucked This Week

It’s Tuesday, tacos are on tonight’s menu, and I got a big list of players who left it all at home. I also have 2 new additions for this week’s article: teams making the list, and Players Who Sucked Again.

 

FOOTBALL

The FSU defense allowed 63 points, which was the most in school history. Hell, they allowed more points than UF allowed offensive yards. The only positive thing they did was help Lamar Jackson build his Heisman resume. Maybe next week fellas.

FSU's feelings over the weekend.

FSU’s feelings over the weekend.

North Texas’ offense, who managed just 53 yards against UF. They would’ve had a little more if they didn’t run backwards, netting -13 yards on the ground. Luckily their schedule gets easier.

Jameis Winston. He was a totally different QB this week, turning the ball over 5 times including a pick-6. Playing in Arizona isn’t easy, but Mr. Garappolo didn’t have this much trouble.

UCF’s McKenzie Milton got the start at QB but threw an interception and fumbled the ball 6 times (3 lost), including throwing a fumble in double overtime. The kid showed some promise as a true freshman, but his OT fumble was worse than the butt fumble.

 

BASEBALL

The Terrible Hitters

Michael Saunders is having a career year, but slumped this week going 0-12 with 5 strikeouts.

Eduardo Escobar was productive by scoring and knocking in a run, but couldn’t quite hit the ball (1-23) over the last 7 days.

Yasmani Grandal went 2-15 with 7 K, which is basically how he hits if it’s not a homer.

Rob Refsnyder had a rough week going 1-15, with half of his outs being strikeouts. The Yankees are really wishing Aaron Judge didn’t get hurt.

The Ugly Starters

Drew Pomeranz: 5 ⅔ IP, 1 L, 11 H, 9 ER, 3 HR, 4 BB, 6 K in 2 starts. Maybe the recent week’s news about his trade got to him.

Trevor Bauer: 11 IP, 2 L, 16 H, 12 ER, 1 HR, 3 BB, 4 HBP, 12 K in 2 starts. Despite striking out more guys than innings pitched, he hit 4 batters (3 in one game) and surrendered a dozen runs. Luckily the Indians have a comfortable lead in the AL Central and should make the playoffs.

John Gant: 1⅔ IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 0 K. He pitched against the Nationals, who are pretty good, and he’s on the Braves, who are pretty bad. That’s a recipe for disaster, unless Strasburg is pitching.

The Awful Relievers

Joe Mantiply: 1⅓ IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 0 K in 3 appearances. The rookie pitched well in his first 2 career appearances, but his last 3 outings are a different story.

Tony Cingrani: 1⅔ IP, 1 L, 5 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 1 K in 2 appearances. Not how your closer should be pitching, but the Reds are going nowhere this year.

[MLB stats for week of Sept 13-19. Min 10 AB.]

 

Players Who Sucked Again

Jay Bruce went 1-16 with 3 K, turning in another horrible week at the plate. This guy must REALLY hate playing for the Mets. Or he loves making my list. I’m going with the former.

Adrian Peterson plays his best games against the Packers, but gained only 26 yard on 14 touches Sunday night. The injury doesn’t make things easier for Vikings fans or fantasy owners.

 

Dishonorable Mentions

Mike Pelfrey, Jorge De La Rosa & Eddie Butler, Edinson Volquez, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Matt Boyd all had poor starts this past week, but just weren’t bad enough to get their own shout out.

The Seahawks inability to score points in LA.

Golden Tate, Sammy Watkins, & Justin Forsett: These underperformers are killing my fantasy team!

 

Got anyone to add? Write in that comment box.

 

Photo Credits:

http://pbs.twimg.com/media/CSIR_VUUEAIQPvy.png:large

http://s2.quickmeme.com/img/1b/1bbe4b6561eadd54ed20834e18a9ed3acceb44b46299052a5ea163553dcb6cc0.jpg