During Saturday’s College GameDay episode, the discussion turned to the top Group of 5 team in the nation, and analyst Kirk Herbstreit made waves for his dismissal of UCF.
“Why are we focusing on just UCF when it comes to the Power 5 because I think there are other teams out there that are as deserving or more deserving?” Herbstreit said.
“You need to play somebody in order to be rewarded. UCF, you need to not just be worried about being undefeated and trying to get in the top four, you need to look behind you at teams like Utah State, Appalachian State, Fresno State. These teams, on paper, which is what you want to look at a lot of times, are better than UCF and more deserving than UCF.”
When someone on the set mentioned UCF is undefeated, Herbstreit snapped, “Who cares?”
— Mountain West (@MountainWest) October 20, 2018
UCF, 7-0 and ranked No. 10 in the country, has beaten Connecticut, South Carolina State, Florida Atlantic, Pittsburgh, SMU, Memphis and East Carolina to date. A game with North Carolina was cancelled and dates with Temple, Navy, Cincinnati and No. 21 South Florida are upcoming. Should the Knights reach the AAC Championship, they’d likely face Houston, who is 6-1 and has scored 40-plus points in each game this season.
For the record, here are the resumes to date for App State, Fresno State and Utah State, in that order.
There’s nothing at all controversial about bringing competition to UCF’s claim as the best and most deserving Group of 5 team. While we’re at it, Houston, UAB, Buffalo and San Diego State deserve mention as well.
But Herbstreit’s status as ESPN’s top analyst — and, thus, top target — and his tone brought the ire of the self-proclaimed kings. Winning 20 straight and still being on the outer fringe of the top 10 will do that to you.
On Sunday, UCF AD Danny White penned an open letter to ESPN:
First, college football has not “become a subjective popularity contest.” This sport has been a subjective popularity contest since 1869. Short of a 12- or 16-team playoff that includes every conference champion, it always will be, and at least now the sport is less a subjective popularity contest than it was before 2014.
Second, the College Football Playoff is not broken. The Playoff is doing exactly what it was designed to do — to be a lucrative playoff system for the Power 5 conferences, while everyone else gets the table scraps.
Obviously, these aren’t acceptable answers to UCF, and White is doing what he does best: using the system to generate as much publicity as possible for his school.