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UCF – ‘The pet at the end of the mall’

Save for some “who cares” All Star games, all of college football is said and done and a national champion has been crowned. 

There is no longer a mythical championship in the FBS, there is a legit one. 

I know that my MEAC champion North Carolina A&T (see the Telephone of 12/7) Aggies finished the season at 12-0 with a win in the Celebration Bowl, but they ended up with no legit claim.

Remember that A&T would have been favored over defending national champion Clemson because of a chain of events that I explained at that time. It ended up that Clemson did not play in the national championship game so all of A&T’s legitimacy became irrelevant.

What apparently is relevant is 13-0 Central Florida. The American Athletic Conference (AAC) champion Knights beat Auburn 27-20 in the Peach Bowl on New Year’s Day. Remember that Auburn beat both Georgia and Alabama. UCF has now claimed the FBS National Championship for itself. ESPN radio guru Jon “Stugotz” Weiner even went so far as to call Monday’s game in Atlanta the Consolation Game.

UCF is hanging a National Championship banner in their own Spectrum Stadium (only recently Bright House Networks Stadium) and they had a championship parade at the Magic Kingdom on Sunday. The AD is even paying the coaching staff championship bonuses.

Sounds like fun to me; but not reality.

The SEC Network guru Paul Finebaum coined possibly a new phrase on ESPN’s Golic and Wingo Thursday morning when he said of the UCF situation, “A side show … everyone likes to wrap their arms around the pet at the end of the mall.” You know that beautiful puppy everyone stands and ogles over, but never buys, as they leave the mall? Think about it, is anyone really buying UCF as national champions?

With UCF putting itself into the national spotlight, I thought of some interesting things. UCF started football at the D-III level in 1979. It went to 1-AA (FCS) in 1990 and made the final jump to 1-A (FBS) in 1996. OK. 

Compare this to GSU, who started football (really restarted) in 1981 and played what it called club football in 1982 and 1983 becoming 1-AA in 1984. They joined the FBS in 2014. Look where everything stands now.

From those early days there is a lot of history between GSU and UCF. On Sept. 11, 1982, GSU played its first football game of the modern era at the Gator Bowl against the Knights. The Eagles were 16-9 winners in front of, according to Wikipedia, 2,350 fans. 

In 1983, on Sept. 10 to be exact, GSU hosted UCF at Statesboro High’s Womack Field. The Knights were coached by Lou Saban, former head coach of the Buffalo Bills and Denver Broncos. In fact, the Bills won the AFL championship under Saban in both 1964 and 1965. UCF won that 1983 game 33-29. I was there. 

Maybe noteworthy is that GSU leads the series 10-1, but the teams have not met since 1991. Again look where each stands now, in really modern times. In 2015, the Knights were 0-12 and their coach (George O’Leary) quit after eight games. In just two years, Scott Frost (now the head coach of Nebraska’s Cornhuskers) has taken them to 13-0. Contrast that to GSU. In 2015, the Eagles were 9-4, winning the GoDaddy Bowl, under Willie Fritz. In just two years, Tyson Summers coached them down to 2-10. Of course, Summers was canned after an 0-6 start. Talk about opposite directions.

It probably matters that UCF is in Orlando, Fla., and boasts an enrollment of over 64,000 students.

Did anyone else get tired of seeing Baker Mayfield on camera during the Rose Bowl?

Saturday in Augusta some of the greatest football players ever to wear the Red and White of the Screven County Gamecocks finished their high school careers. In the CSRA Border Bowl, five Roosters, all of them named to at least one All State list in their career, had one last day, albeit cold, day in the sun with an “S” on their bright red helmets.

CJ Wright, who was on the team as a defensive tackle (and he did play there) scored a rushing touchdown and a two point conversion. Tyquan Johnson caught a pair of passes, one for a score, for nearly 100 yards. Kendrick Cox was in on 12 tackles, including a sack and three for a loss.  Kashawn Robinson and Kim Hunter also played well on defense. Team Georgia lost 32-25 as South Carolina scored a pair of defensive touchdowns.

Man will I miss writing about and announcing about the gridiron class of 2018.

I have to throw this in -- two weeks ago our Gamecock basketball team took the court against the vaunted Statesboro Blue Devils in the final day of the Statesboro Gentlemen’s Classic. I read in another local publication that the Devils “were the only the only team they (the Gamecocks) wanted to play in (the) … tournament.”  Almost makes it sound like we sought them out.

SCHS was scheduled to play Richmond Academy, not Statesboro. Turns out it was the Devils who wanted to play the Roosters. Gamecock mentor Arthur Davis said fine. Apparently, there was a lot of social media verbiage between players from one side of the river to the other. The point is that they wanted to play us. Maybe this all leads back to their refusal to play us on the gridiron on Sept. 8. That one would have had a very predictable and embarrassing outcome for them. This one had a realistically predictable, but far, far, from embarrassing, outcome. The Red and White certainly scared them for a while and the Red and White certainly accepted the challenge.

Let’s get going with 2018 at SCHS.