U.S. Markets closed

UCF AD Danny White is right to feel 'disrespected' by the Playoff Selection Committee

Central Florida wasn’t celebrating their ranking in the most recent College Football Playoff poll. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Central Florida Knights athletic director Danny White’s emotions are swirling this week. His football program has the conference title and a New Year’s Six bowl bid in its sights, but on Monday, head football coach Scott Frost smoke signaled his interest in the vacancy at his alma mater. On Tuesday evening, the penultimate College Football Playoff committee rankings were released. White was indignant about UCF being ranked 14th.

White’s grievance with the committee is just a continuance of a conference-wide message he’s spread before. White also vouched for the South Florida Bulls, although that may have been a little self-serving. UCF barely edged out South Florida in a Black Friday tilt, 49-42, courtesy of a 95-yard kickoff return in the final minute and a half of regulation.

USF’s disappeared from the top 25 after being ranked as high as 13th in the Associated Press poll in early October following a close loss to Houston. By contrast, undefeated UCF didn’t land at 13th in the AP until two weeks ago.

A more thorough dismantling of South Florida could have elevated UCF higher, but that reasoning also illustrates the disadvantage Group of 5 teams are in. It’s not enough to beat the teams on their schedule by an average of 24 points a game. The committee will consider placing two-loss Ohio State or an SEC team that didn’t win its division in the playoff before they even consider tossing UCF into their top 10.

One hint of weakness is scrutinized intensely as if Group of Five programs are master illusionists. Sophomore McKenzie Milton is an awesome system quarterback piloting the nation’s top-scoring offense, but he was never perceived as a Heisman candidate like Quinton Flowers. Despite reigning American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year Shaquem Griffin’s presence on a top-35 defense, Committee chairman Kirby Hocutt reasoned that it was UCF’s defense, which surrendered 42  points to South Florida, that left them weary, per the Orlando Sentinel.

“A lot of comments about how impressed we continue to be with Central Florida on the offensive side of the ball. They are extremely talented at the skill positions. We spent considerable time talking about their defensive performance.

“The selection committee had questions to, ‘Are they as balanced of a team as some others ranked just above them?’ We analyzed their schedule. Have they really been tested on the defensive side of the ball this year and if so, by who?

Once White was done airing out his grievances on Twitter, he expounded on the committee’s “disrespect” of UCF on Orlando radio host’s Mike Bianci’s show.

Of course, this is generally a moot exercise. The playoff was never a reasonable ambition because of UCF’s relatively soft schedule. UCF has a final opportunity to impress against Memphis in the American Athletic Conference Championship Game and a victory assures them the Group of Five’s automatic bid in a New Year’s Six bowl. In the long-term, the Group of Five playoff idea that’s been floated for the past year is probably beginning to gain more steam on UCF’s campus.

On the plus side, White used UCF’s grievance with the playoff committee as an opportunity to fundraise.