UCF will start the season ranked 23rd in the Coaches' Poll, but everyone will be closely watching the release of the Associated Press poll, which is scheduled for Monday.
But Brett McMurphy, the recently-minted College Football Insider for Stadium, dropped an inauspicious hint on Wednesday about what might go down:
AP preseason poll will be released Monday. Here is my AP ballot*— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) August 15, 2018
Bama Clem Wisc Wash OhioSt UGA OU Stan MichSt PennSt Aub Mich USC ND WVU Miami MissSt UF FSU BC TCU Boise Utah Texas FAU
*Every fan base except Bama will hate my rankings
Notice: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FAU. And no UCF.
Anger has set in across UCF Twitter. I'm not going to mention examples. You can check Brett's mentions for that. Bring protection.
This brings up a difficult question to contemplate: Coming off a 13-0 season, a conference title, a #6 finish in the AP Poll, and a national title claim, could UCF be left out of the Preseason AP Top 25? Should they be? And if so, why?
And this is why you should prepare to be outraged when the AP Poll is released on Monday. McMurphy completely left off UCF. https://t.co/ke8XWsfrbj— Brandon Helwig (@UCFSports) August 15, 2018
Thanks to UCF alumnus Matt Brodsky of CBS Sports, because he poses an interesting question:
We need to see the final AP preseason poll, but just for comparison's sake...South Florida returned explosive senior QB Quinton Flowers and stayed at 19 from year to year after having a new coach in place. Dropping UCF from 6th to beyond 15th or so is silly.— Matt Brodsky (@MattSBrodsky) August 16, 2018
Let's analyze that in-depth, and compare that 2016 USF team with the 2017 UCF team:
|Team||2016 USF||2017 UCF|
|Bowl Result||W vs. South Carolina||W vs. #6 Auburn|
|Total Offense Rank||11th (511.5)||5th (530.5)|
|Scoring Offense Rank||4th (43.8)||1st (48.2)|
|Rushing Offense Rank||5th (285.3)||33rd (198.7)|
|Passing Offense Rank||70th (226.2)||10th (331.8)|
|Total Defense Rank||120th (482.0)||93rd (427.9)|
|Scoring Defense Rank||92nd (31.6)||52nd (25.3)|
|Rushing Defense Rank||84th (196.5)||59th (159.8)|
|Passing Defense Rank||122nd (285.5)||115th (268.1)|
|Turnover Margin||14th (+0.69)||2nd (+1.31)|
|Returning Head Coach?||No||No|
|Off/Def Starters Returning (Phil Steele)||7/9||6/6|
|Off/Def/Tot Returning Production (SB Nation)||71%/77%/74%||71%/76%/74%|
|Final AP Ranking||19th||6th|
|Next Preseason Ranking||19th||21st|
Well, would you look at that. UCF had better overall numbers than USF from the previous season, also returns their QB but not their coach, and also returns most of its offensive and defensive production.
Now, I'm not saying UCF should start the season ranked 6th. I"m also not saying he should have left off Miami, FSU, UF or FAU. But for any AP voter to leave UCF off their ballot after finishing 6th the previous year is patently absurd.
I'm sure McMurphy has his reasons for leaving UCF off his ballot, but if any of them have to do with the departure of Scott Frost, or Shaquem Griffin, or Tre'Quan Smith, they've all been debunked above.
Yes, UCF has an entirely new coaching staff. And yes, UCF lost some key names on both offense and defense. But it is clear looking at the data that UCF deserves to be ranked in the preseason.
I can't believe I have to make that argument, but here we are.
If the Knights are not ranked in the preseason AP Top 25, there can be only one reason: AP voters want to penalize UCF for its National Championship claim. That would be ironic since it's the writers who are clamoring for an expanded playoff anyway.
So what gives? I suppose we'll find out Monday.