The national championship game is Monday night and UCF will not win it. UCF can't win it, because UCF isn't playing in it. But that isn't stopping the Knights from claiming the 2017 national championship.
Taking it one step further, UCF AD Danny White told the Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz that the school will hold a parade for its team -- just as any national champion would.
“We’re gonna have a parade to celebrate the success of our team,” he said.
White's commitment to this campaign is going to put money in the coaching staff's pockets -- a coaching staff, mind you, that has all left for Nebraska by now.
Claiming a national championship you didn't win is ridiculous, but then again the history of college football's crowning of national champions is ridiculous itself. Alabama claims a 1941 national championship for a season in which the Tide finished third... in the SEC. In fact, Alabama claimed six national championships in 1982, but somehow that number grew to 12 by 1983.
Until the creation of the BCS, college football never had a centralized system of awarding a national championship. Heck, even the BCS couldn't stop the 2003 crown being split between BCS champion LSU and AP champion USC. For years before that, the Coaches' Poll would award its champion after the regular season while the AP would wait until after the bowls. Go back even further and you can count a handful of organizations that would award national titles.
So, yeah, there's a long history of claiming disputed national championships after the fact, but there's not as much of claiming disputed championships at the time you won them. (Auburn did give itself national championship rings for a 2004 season in which it finished unbeaten but was left out of the BCS title game, but the school does not claim the national championship today.)
For what it's worth, UCF is first in the Wolfe ratings system, which is recognized by the NCAA's handbook as a "major" selector for national champions.
It's not the Playoff rankings and it's not the AP poll, but so what? UCF is the only team in the 4-year Playoff era to finish undefeated. Beyond that, the Knights beat Auburn in the Peach Bowl, the only team to beat both national championship participants Georgia and Alabama.
UCF AD Danny White is pulling off an effective marketing ploy here, but isn't that the entire point of college sports -- to market your university in the best light possible?