UCF football didn’t make it the College Football Playoff last season, but that didn’t stop them from claiming a national title.
The Knights were the only undefeated FBS team last season. And they beat Auburn — who beat both Alabama and George in 2017 — in the Peach Bowl.
So, UCF decided they were the champions. Rings were made. Parades were held. And banners were raised.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy was asked for comment on UCF’s unique display for an article by USA Today’s George Schroeder. The Cowboys coach admittedly was fine with the parade and the rings. But the banners? That’s a different story.
“But when I saw the banner,” Gundy says, “that was a little different for me. … It was a little unusual.”
It certainly was unusual. Not many teams in the modern era — let alone Group of 5 members — claim national titles not awarded to them.
Alabama won the actual 2017 national championship. But teams will be told differently when they visit UCF’s stadium.
Oklahoma State, of course, caught flak for claiming the 1945 national championship two years ago.
— OSU Sports Extra (@OSUSportsExtra) August 17, 2017
The biggest difference is Oklahoma State’s national title was determined by the American Football Coaches Association in an effort to recognize national champions prior to 1950.
But it makes sense why Gundy wouldn’t be as upset over the rings or the parade or coaches getting bonuses. UCF had a great season, and it wanted to find a unique way to reward their players.
A parade is a one-time deal. Rings are really only for the team. The coaches deserved something for their efforts, even if the College Football Playoff system was against them.
But everyone who visits UCF will see the banners, and that’s where it reasonably will feel its gone too far for some.