Unsolved Debate: Who Is No.1 In College Football?

Alabama Crimson Tide’s coach Nick Saban raising the national championship trophy. Photo courtesy of Alabama Athletics
Alabama Crimson Tide’s coach Nick Saban raising the national championship trophy. Photo courtesy of Alabama Athletics

The University of Central Florida ended its college football season with no losses and winning a bowl game. 

Even so, the title of national champion was bestowed on Alabama after the Crimson Tide defeated Georgia 26-23 in overtime.

So, what does it take to win a national championship in college football?

Alabama won its game, but shouldn't UCF be considered national champions since the Knights are the only undefeated team in the nation? Alabama had one loss this season coming from Auburn 26-14 but the Crimson Tide still made it to the playoffs even without winning its conference championship.

On the other hand, UCF went undefeated and won its conference championship but wasn't selected as one of the final four teams to compete in the playoffs. To make this debate even more interesting, UCF concluded a perfect season by beating Auburn 34- 27 in the New Year's 6th Peach Bowl.

The Knights' performance, however, apparently failed to impress the College Football
Playoff selection committee. It ranks teams based on the members' evaluation of the teams' performance on the field, using conference championships won, the strength of schedule, head-to-head results, and comparison of results against common opponents to decide among teams that are comparable. Every FBS team has equal access to the College Football Playoff based on its performance.

The College Football Playoff format is lightyears ahead of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) we ditched four years ago. Even with this new system, there may be a team that might miss out because a team like Alabama is going to get the benefit of the doubt when compared to a team like UCF.

University of Central Florida celebrating the perfect season, 13-0. Photo courtesy of Orlando Sentinel
University of Central Florida celebrating the perfect season, 13-0. Photo courtesy of Orlando Sentinel

This was an unusual situation for Alabama because they didn't control their destiny. Most seasons we see Alabama roll past opponents and secure the conference title and patiently wait to see who they will play in the playoffs, but this year they were just hoping they could just make it to the playoffs.

There isn't a better team than a Nick Saban coached team that has something to prove and they showed it in the first round against Clemson holding the Tigers to only 6 points in a dominating win.

We have to give credit where credit is due, though. UCF's football program has made a complete turnaround after going 0-12 in 2015. The hiring of a young, energetic head coach named Scott Frost saw the team improve to 6-7 in his first year and now 13-0 in2017 his second and final year. Frost is leaving to take the head coaching position at Nebraska.

The UCF Knights showed us this year that they are an explosive team that can put numbers on the board and has a roster that looks to keep the momentum going in seasons to come. Saban, after beating Georgia, solidified himself as the greatest college football coach of all time capturing his sixth National Championship, tied with Alabama legend Bea Bryant for the most of all time.

No doubt the debate about who had the better team or who should've made it in the playoffs will continue for a while. For now, the CFP committed decision stands.

By John Huger