UCF Football will start the 2018 season ranked 23rd in the USA Today/Amway Coaches' Poll.
This is the first time in program history that UCF has ever been ranked to start a season.
Reason No. 130 why there’s no complacency around here. pic.twitter.com/NfxM4Y9cQF— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) August 2, 2018
It's one thing to celebrate a bit of a head start by being ranked in the preseason. There's nothing bad about that.
Still, on the heels of an undefeated season and a claim for a national championship, with a returning Heisman candidate at quarterback, consternation echoed in the poll's wake - the most vocal of it coming straight from the @UCF_Football Twitter account:
Here’s how we feel about our No. 23 ranking— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) August 2, 2018
No team in the last decade that finished undefeated has started the following season outside the top 20...until now— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) August 2, 2018
The only undefeated teams in the last 15 years to start the following season outside the top 5 had lost their starting QB:— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) August 2, 2018
04-05: Auburn (J Campbell)
04-05: Utah (A Smith)
06-07: Boise (J Zabransky)
08-09: Utah (B Johnson)
10-11: TCU (A Dalton)
10-11: Auburn (C Newton)
Here’s where teams with a new head coach, but a returning QB ranked at the end of ‘17 and to start ‘18:— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) August 2, 2018
-Mississippi State: 20 18
-Florida State: NR 19
-UCF: 7 23
These are...damn good points, actually.
Look, I get it: UCF has an entirely new coaching staff, and plenty of contributors to last year's team are gone, including their best defensive player, and that leaves some question marks.
All that said, it's perfectly reasonable to play the disrespect card, because if UCF gets off to a hot start again, we can pretty much guess what's going to happen.
Still, you'd think some of the other schools in UCF's position would lend their support. But...
UCF continues to whine and pout. Really starting to dislike that program and how it presents itself in public ... https://t.co/tgzLzWHa2S— Mike Prater (@MikeFPrater) August 2, 2018
I have nothing but respect for #UCF football. They had a tremendous season , went unbeaten , and they should've been a #CFP team. The system is flawed... All that said the championship rings , and fan arrogance is getting absurd and has been all offseason... #AAC #Powr6 #CFB— Temple Sports Daily (@TUOwlsDaily) August 2, 2018
Clearly, the folks at Boise State (ranked just ahead of UCF at #22) and elsewhere in The American don't get it: The way you break the broken system is by calling it out for being broken. And should any of those teams do the same thing UCF did last year, you'd think everyone else in the so-called Group of Five would have their backs in the fight for college football justice. UCF would, for one.
Who would have thought Boise State, who has finished undefeated twice and won the Fiesta Bowl three times since 2006, and won 10+ games 15 times since 1999, would be on Alabama's side in this whole thing?
Funny how things work out. Come on, man. Get on board. It will only help your cause.
Back to UCF:
The Coaches Poll undervalues G5 teams. We know this. Please save your outrage for something that matters. https://t.co/pOvlTIh6Mq— Underdog Dynasty (@underdogdynasty) August 3, 2018
UCF had to climb uphill in the rankings all of last year despite winning every game in front of it, including 11 of them in an 11-week span.
Last season, UCF didn't crack the Coaches' Poll until Week 5 (October 1), when they were 3-0. They didn't crack the Top 15 until Week 9 at 7-0, and there were still behind 2-loss Iowa State. They finally reached the Top 10 in time for the bowl season, and they were still behind three 2-loss teams and one 3-loss team (Auburn).
There's no doubt this contributed to their getting sandbagged by the CFP Committee, which doesn't release its rankings until the middle of the season.
Had UCF landed in the polls before the CFP rankings came out, things might have been different, but we'll never know.
So don't say it doesn't matter when UCF is the test case for how much it does matter.
We'll leave the last word to Luke Sarris:
What does the world want us to do? Sit back and say nothing? I understand you think we’re letting one good season get to our heads but if we don’t make some noise, the bias will never change for ANY G5 school in the future. Not just UCF. Winning them all isn’t enough anymore.— Luke Sarris (@LukeSarrisSBN) August 2, 2018