clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NATIONAL CHAMPIONS! UCF Finishes #1 in Colley Matrix, Solidifying Title Claim

UCF Can Officially Claim Its First Football National Title

Shaquem Griffin hoists the Peach Bowl Most Outstanding Defensive Player Trophy (Photo: Derek Warden)
Shaquem Griffin hoists the Peach Bowl Most Outstanding Defensive Player Trophy (Photo: Derek Warden)

Deal with it: UCF Football can now claim its first National Championship, and no one can say anything about it.

UCF finished #1 in the final rankings of the Colley Matrix, beating out #2 Alabama by six one-thousandths of a point to take the top slot.

The Colley Matrix is a mathematical college football ranking system devised by Dr. Wesley Colley, an astrophysicist based in Huntsville, Alabama. Colley's system was one of several used by the BCS to select its championship game participants from 2001-2013.

Since the NCAA itself does not hand out a National Championship for FBS, it delegates the ability to claim national titles to several polls and computer rankings. The Associated Press and USA Today Coaches' polls are certainly the most recognizable selectors, but they are not the only selectors recognized by the NCAA.

According to the NCAA's Record Book, the Colley Matrix is recognized as an official FBS National Champion selector:

A list of totally legitimate, NCAA-approved FBS Football National Championship Selectors (NCAA Record Book).
A list of totally legitimate, NCAA-approved FBS Football National Championship Selectors (NCAA Record Book).

UCF, who finished the season 13-0 and defeated Auburn 34-27 in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl on New Year's Day, was expected to finish #1 in two other mathematical rankings, the Peter Wolfe and Anderson/Hester rankings, but got leapfrogged by Alabama in both to finish #2.

However, the Colley Matrix's placement of UCF at #1 means that UCF can officially claim a recognized and sanctioned National Championship in Football for its 2017 campaign.

The precedent for UCF's claim to be a national champion has been laid out by several other schools who have claimed national championships retroactively from other NCAA-recognized selectors. While admittedly not without controversy, this has not prevented schools such as Oklahoma State, Auburn and Alabama from celebrating national championships from those selectors, sometimes years after the fact:

UCF's bold claim to a national championship hacked the news cycle for the week leading up to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game on Monday night, where Alabama defeated Georgia 26-23 in overtime to claim the CFP National Championship.

Auburn, whom UCF defeated on New Year's Day in Atlanta, defeated both Georgia and Alabama during the regular season.

Alabama, who finished the season at 13-1, failed to win the SEC West division by virtue of its loss to Auburn. Georgia, who finished 13-2, defeated Auburn in the SEC Championship Game, avenging their earlier loss to the Tigers in the regular season.

UCF was not selected by the CFP Committee to be one of the four participants in the playoff, despite its 13-0 record.

UCF Athletic Director Danny White got the ball rolling by declaring his squad national champions in the moments following the Peach Bowl victory:

Many in the state of Florida and around the nation have celebrated UCF's taking up of the cause of non-so-called Power Five Conference schools by declaring itself national champions after it finished as the only unbeaten team in FBS College Football, but was locked out of the CFP Playoff by its panel of voters.

But the Knights' claim has also been met with derision on social media and by some in the sports media (notably Paul Finebaum of ESPN), since it was perceived that UCF was simply claiming the title for itself without any outside validation.

But with the final results now in from the NCAA-recognized Colley Matrix, that argument is now moot.

The national championship for UCF Football is the fourth recognized national title for UCF's athletic program. UCF Volleyball won the AIAW Division III National Championship in 1978, and the UCF Cheerleading Team has won two UCA Division I-A national championships, in 2003 and 2007.