Alabama versus Georgia. An all Southeastern Conference final for the national championship. Not so fast. What about UCF? No, that’s not some dot.com website. It is the University of Central Florida, a school that only the most savvy of sports fans has heard of. This dinky little school has 65,000 students and on Monday beat No. 7 Auburn in the Peach Bowl, 34-27, to finish the year a perfect 13-0. They were excluded from the Four-team National Playoff system.
The fact that UCF, the only school with an unblemished record, was left out of the playoffs makes the whole playoff system pointless. A four team playoff simply IS NOT a quality product. Before you say that UCF didn’t play as good a schedule as the other teams, consider that the Golden Knights won eight games against teams that played in bowl games. The two finalists in the so-called “National Championship”, Alabama and Georgia, both lost to Auburn, the same Auburn that UCF just defeated in the Peach Bowl.
Whether or not UCF deserved to be in the playoff picture is not the point here.
The point is, the playoff system is flawed by its’ very design and could be simply fixed by expanding to at least eight teams. Give a slot to each of the power five conferences. Give another slot to the best team that IS NOT in a power five conference. That leaves two slots for at-large teams, teams like Alabama who, this year, did not win their conference.
This all makes so much sense that the refusal to do it smacks of cronyism amongst the playoff committee, the management of the various bowls and the power five conferences themselves. The “Big Cigars” in the big offices!
Would somebody please fix this so that we can TRULY call this a National Championship?
Every football coach in the land will tell you, “Special teams are important. We work on that a lot.” That may be so but few get the results that Kansas State does. Bill Snyder’s teams have traditionally been near the top nationally in all phases of special teams. ESPN ranked K-State’s special team’s unit No. 1 in the country heading into bowl season.
Statistically, the Wildcats are one of three teams across the country to rank in the top 15 for both punt return average (14.78 yards, 7th) and kickoff return average (24.67 yards, 15th). This season marked the program’s 13th in a row with at least one kickoff return score, which leads the nation and is five years longer than the next-closest school.
On the other side of that, K-State has defended 239 kickoff returns in a row without giving up a score and an opponent has not scored on a punt return in 49 games!
THAT is putting your special teams where your mouth is.
— On New Years Day West Virginia’s Bobby Huggins showed again that he is a terrific defensive basketball coach as his Mountaineers handcuffed K-State’s offensive rythmn and grabbed an important road win. His team refused to let the Wildcats’ Dean Wade get open for any three-pointers!
— It may be way too early for hedging the Big 12 basketball bets BUT West Virginia has certainly stuck its flag where it will be noticed. They sit 2-0 with road wins at two tough places, Stillwater and Manhattan. Meanwhile, Kansas continues to have issues because of lack of big-man support. If the Jayhawks aren’t shooting well from outside, they are very vulnerable!
— Former Texas A&M basketball coach Shelby Metcalf, on being told that one of his players just received four F’s and one D: “Son, it looks like to me that you’ve been spending too much time on one subject!”
Buddy Tabler is a guest columnist for the Great Bend Tribune and his views don’t necessarily reflect those of the paper. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.