Go ahead and call me a hopeless homer and a pathetic provincialist if you so desire, but I’m not ashamed to admit that I have the UCF Knights ranked No. 1 in my preseason college football Top 25.
That’s right, in the renowned BCS (Bianchi Charting System) ranking, UCF is ranked No. 1 — and I believe I have a stronger case than the national pollsters and Power 5 propagandists who continue to minimize the Knights.
I think it’s laughable that there seems to be a prevailing sentiment among college football elitists that UCF should “just be happy” to be ranked No. 21 in the Associated Press preseason poll released earlier this week. This is the same sort of condescending attitude we heard last season from influential ESPN commentator Paul Finebaum, who told UCF to “know your place” after the Knights self-proclaimed themselves national champions following the Peach Bowl victory over Auburn.
Here’s my argument as to why UCF’s No. 21 ranking in the AP poll is a travesty and my No. 1 ranking is much more fair and feasible:
First and foremost, consider that UCF — the only unbeaten team in the country a year ago — finished last season ranked No. 6 in the final AP poll and returns its Heisman Trophy-contending quarterback McKenzie Milton and more than half of its other starters. If Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State or any Power 5 program finished the previous season unbeaten and returned a star quarterback and a plethora of other stars, it would undoubtedly be ranked No. 1 in the preseason.
But UCF is ranked No. 21.
Clearly, this an obvious case of an inherent Power 5 bias.
If you don’t believe me, then consider this fact: UCF is one of 14 FBS teams in the past 30 years to have a perfect season and return its starting quarterback the following year. Of those 14 teams, UCF is the ONLY team NOT ranked among the top three in the AP preseason poll.
Forget about the top three, the Knights aren’t ranked in the top 10; they’re not ranked in the top 15; they’re not even ranked in the top 20.
The other popular argument being made as to why the Knights are ranked so low is because Scott Frost is gone and they have new coach — Josh Heupel — replacing him.
Um, then how do you explain the Florida State Seminoles? They are team that finished with a mundane 7-6 record a year ago, doesn’t know who their starting quarterback is going to be, lost one of the best head coaches in college football (Jimbo Fisher) and replaced him with a coach who has a career losing record (Willie Taggart) — and, yet, the Seminoles are ranked two spots ahead of UCF at No. 19.
And how do you explain Mississippi State? The Bulldogs replaced Dan Mullen with first-time FBS head coach in Joe Moorhead following a 9-4 season last year — and, yet, they are ranked three spots head of UCF at No. 18.
I understand that UCF is ranked in the AP preseason poll for the first time in school history, but, to me, this is no reason for celebration. The bottom line is that UCF should be ranked closer to No. 1 than No. 21.
The sad part is that the AP poll is made up of media members. And there was a time when the media’s role was much more noble and chivalrous.
If I’ve written it once, I’ve written it a million times: How sad that this is what has become of the national media? It used to be the media would shine a light on the injustices of sports and use its platform to invoke change.
In the days before billion-dollar TV contracts, the national media would actually fight the good fight for the little guys and recite one of the basic rules and roles of journalism: “To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”
Unfortunately, in college football, the national media perpetuates and props up the Power 5 propaganda and has adopted a different mantra:
“Comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted.”
Sadly, AP voters are really no different than the College Football Playoff Committee.
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