UCF is a great football team. They can play with anyone in the country and would scare the pants off any team in the College Football Playoff. The Knights, however, did not deserve a playoff spot on Sunday, Dec. 3, one day after they beat Memphis in the AAC Championship, and they did not deserve a spot on Tuesday, Jan. 2, one day after they beat Auburn in the Peach Bowl.
"It wasn't right," Scott Frost said after beating Auburn, referring to the playoff committee's weekly ranking of UCF. "I was watching every week, the committee sitting in a room and [deciding] this two-loss team must be better than UCF because UCF is in the American. Or this three-loss team must be better than UCF.
"It looked like a conscious effort to me to make sure that they didn't have a problem if they put us too high and a couple teams ahead of us lost. And oh, no, now we have to put them in a playoff. But we just beat a team that beat two Playoff teams and lost to another one by six points and we beat them by seven."
Frost did not explicitly say UCF deserved a playoff spot over No. 4 Alabama — the final team in — or one of the other participants. Instead, he directed season-long frustration at the Knights' slow rise from No. 18 in the initial Week 10 rankings to No. 12 in the final Week 15 rankings despite a 5-0 mark over that time that included wins over USF and Memphis. While let's stop way short of saying the committee's supposed Power Five bias deliberately kept them outside the top 10, he does have a point — at least in terms of the eye test and ranking the true best teams in the country. UCF was not the 12th-best team in the country. Their résumé and schedule, however, put them there.
They could've been No. 10, if not higher, but is that what Frost and UCF wanted? Would a No. 10 — or No. 8 or No. 6 final ranking — have been satisfactory and not spurred his comments and other arguments for the anti-Knights bias? Clearly, the beef is that they weren't included in the playoff. Because they beat Auburn, the only team to beat both national championship participants, Alabama and Georgia, it proves they belong in the four-team field.
No, it doesn't. It just proves they're a darn good football team that is capable of beating Alabama and Georgia but won't get the chance because of an 11-game schedule that ranked outside the nation's 60 in strength and featured too many subpar opponents.
To the UCF playoff pushers, which team would the Knights have replaced? It can't be Alabama because — using the "UCF just beat Auburn" logic — the Tide just embarrassed Clemson. It can't be Georgia. The Bulldogs were one-loss SEC champs with a top-10 strength of schedule and a host of quality wins. It can't be Oklahoma, a one-loss Big 12 champ with a top-three schedule and host of quality wins. And it most certainly can't be Clemson.
You can argue UCF should've been ranked higher than No. 12 (or for an expanded playoff). That's a fair and reasonable argument, though let's not pretend all would be well if No. 8 UCF beat up on No. 7 Auburn. The playoff calls would be even louder.