SALT LAKE CITY — In the thriving business of busy work, Florida lawmakers last week filed a bill to create license plates honoring Central Florida’s 2017 football national championship.
This is no huge cultural shift. Nowadays, anything is true if you say it long and loud enough. Despite the fact Alabama beat Georgia in the official national championship game, the Knights are saying not so fast. UCF is the country’s lone undefeated team.
In that light, I propose the 2004 and 2008 Ute football teams retroactively be named national champions, too. Why not add the undefeated 1926 Utes and the 1911 Utah State Aggies too?
Champions one and all, in one sense or another.
Please call your local legislator to get this rolling.
Trouble is, saying you should have been named champs is one thing; claiming it is another.
Talk about fake news.
Nowadays more than ever, it’s the declaration that counts. Thank you social media, where everyone is a success. If you have a profile page, you can assert whatever you like, because it says so right there. UCF football's Twitter account declares itself "2017 National Champions."
“I’m going to say that we’re national champions, and I’m going to say it over and over again,” UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin said on Instagram.
And I’m going to say NO YOU’RE NOT, over and over again.
Nor are the 2006 and 2009 Boise State Broncos, the 2010 TCU Horned Frogs, the 1970 and 1975 Arizona State Sun Devils or the 1968 Penn State Nittany Lions. All went undefeated, yet didn’t carry the electoral college, so to speak.
This year’s controversy arose when UCF ran the table, finishing with a Peach Bowl win over Auburn. In bygone years, the debate could rage on because the championship was determined solely by polling. But since the playoffs were instituted in 2014-15, there has been less guesswork.
This hasn’t remotely discouraged people at UCF, who think it’s all a matter of positivity. This makes sense because Orlando is both the home of UCF and Fantasyland.
Nick Saban, get out of the way! Urban Meyer, go to your room! Here come the Knights!
A celebratory parade was held this month at Disney World, and UCF coaches were given national championship bonuses that were tied to their contracts.
Polling has never been perfect. Often there have been several champions, especially back when there were numerous polls. Auburn, Chicago and Harvard all went undefeated in 1913, and all topped at least one poll. Two years later, Cornell, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Pitt went undefeated, each claiming a piece of the title.
Six teams in 1921 were declared national champions by someone (Cal, Cornell, Iowa, Lafayette, Vanderbilt, Washington & Jefferson). As recently as 1981 there were still six champions (Clemson, Penn State, Pitt, Nebraska, SMU, Texas) in the same season. Clemson was the only undefeated team that year, while Nebraska had three losses.
In 1984, the year BYU won its championship, it carried all the polls that mattered: AP, UPI and USA Today. Yet Florida, Nebraska and Washington each got their own championship appointment too. But by then it was clear which polls were best regarded.
This year only Colley Matrix, “the bias free matrix ranking,” had the Knights No. 1.
Still, this is where we are. It’s not just about undefeated schools claiming they should be champs. Now they go ahead and crown themselves. Legislators take it to a different level as they pander to their constituencies.
It’s hard to imagine many people outside Orange County, Florida, taking this seriously. The Big Three of Florida football — Miami, Florida, Florida State — have 11 real national championships among them in the modern era.
If the Knights can make the claim, who’s to say Utah lawmakers won’t commission 2004 and 2008 championship plates? What next, a vote on phantom All-Americans? Individual states declaring their own Heisman winners?
There’s an adage that says it’s not bragging if you’ve done it. How’s this for an adage? It’s not fiction if you make it law.