Here’s the long and short of what I know about the University of Central Florida: The school is located in Orlando and its mascot is the Knights. Its stadium is sometimes called the Bounce House.
And I will be rooting like mad for the UCF football team this Saturday against Memphis in the American Athletic Conference championship game.
I have nothing against Memphis. In truth, I can’t name a single player on either roster. But a UCF win will bring a level of chaos, if not integrity, to college football, and that will be a good thing.
You see, the Knights are one of the last two unbeaten teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The other is Wisconsin, of the Big Ten Conference.
Before the weekend, there were four undefeated teams, but Miami was beaten Friday by Pittsburgh, while Alabama was knocked off its lofty perch by in-state rival Auburn Saturday night.
When The Associated Press’ weekly Top 25 poll of writers was released Sunday, Wisconsin climbed all the way to No.3, the highest ranking for the Badgers in 54 years.
And the Knights? Well, they’re ranked 12th. Not only are they slotted behind five teams with one loss this season, UCF finds themselves behind five teams that have lost twice already this year.
And when the rankings that are used to determine the four teams that play in early January for a supposed national championship are revealed Tuesday, the Knights are not likely to be held in much higher regard.
The Knights are, indeed, the Rodney Dangerfield of college football, but then, the entire sport doesn’t deserve a bit of respect.
While the entirety of college athletics is divided into haves and have-nots, the delineation in football is especially striking.
The roughly 120 schools that play high-end football are split into 10 conferences. Those in the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Southeastern and Pac-12 are said to be part of the Power Five.
The commissioners of those leagues in conjunction with Notre Dame, which is an independent in football, have joined to devise a system where four schools are invited to compete for a mythical national title. The title is mythical because it does not have NCAA imprimatur.
Schools like UCF, which are members of the American Athletic, Mid- American, Mountain West, Sun Belt conferences and Conference USA are part of the Group of Five.
They offer the same 85 scholarships as the Power Five. Their students are subject to the same eligibility rules as the Power Five schools, but the Group of Five schools don’t generate the same revenue as the Power Five, so they are left out in the cold.
The UCF story is a compelling one, as the Knights are just a couple of seasons removed from a winless season. Their quarterback, Quinton Flowers, contributed 605 yards of total offense by himself in Saturday’s seven-point win against South Florida.
Yet, barring a miracle or an attack of conscience from poll voters, the Central Florida Knights will be denied what every college athlete should have, a chance to compete for a championship.
You don’ t have to know much about UCF to know this hardly seems fair.
And that’s how I see it for this week.