After capping its 13-0 season with a win over Auburn in the Peach Bowl on Jan. 1, UCF claimed a national championship. The Knights’ campaign lasted a couple of months, but by now, they are focused on the 2018 campaign. However, that doesn’t mean everyone has moved on.
Earlier this week, Alabama coach Nick Saban continued to air his thoughts on UCF’s claim. His team, which went 11-1 in the regular season but failed to win the SEC West, was eventually selected to the College Football Playoff. The Crimson Tide eventually won said playoff, one that the Knights were kept out of.
“I guess anybody has the prerogative to claim anything. But self-proclaimed is not the same as actually earning it,” Saban said to USA Today Sports. “And there’s probably a significant number of people who don’t respect people who make self-proclaimed sort of accolades for themselves.”
There is plenty of shade in that passive-aggressive quote alone, but Saban didn’t stop there. After saying he respected what UCF accomplished, he proceeded to contradict himself by downplaying the Knights’ road to perfection.
“We have a system, and it’s not fair to the people who went through the system and earned their way playing really, really good teams — I mean really good teams — and really tough games. It’s not quite fair to them for somebody else just to decide to [claim a national championship].”
There is more than a hint of unintended irony in Saban saying the claim isn’t “fair to the people who went through the system” when the system itself, by its very nature, is unfair. Even still, plenty of people agreed with him. Some felt differently. One of those who shot back was none other than Scott Frost, the coach that led UCF to its perfect season before leaving for his alma mater of Nebraska.
Frost, who said in recent weeks that he would have a “hard time” getting on board with the claim had he stayed in Orlando, came to the Knights’ defense this week. He noted to Nebraska news station KETV that “Alabama probably has one or two national championships they claim that weren’t necessarily recognized by everybody.”
That point was factually correct, considering the fact that Alabama claims a title for 1941 despite a 9-2 record and a No. 20 ranking in the final AP poll. Claiming titles is nothing new to college football, of course. But ever since January, the country has had plenty to say about the Knights doing so.
Frost, who is entering his first year with the Huskers, did say after those comments that he was done talking about the national title claim. However, it should be interesting to see whether or not he continues to stick up for UCF as this off-field debate likely continues throughout the summer.