AP Photo/Butch Dill, File

Nick Saban takes jab at UCF’s “self-proclaimed” national title, but Gus Malzahn stays out of it

4 Comments

Alabama head coach Nick Saban added another national title to his ever-growing list of achievements last January when the Crimson Tide rallied from behind to stun Georgia in overtime of the College Football Playoff national championship game. At the same time, UCF was busy celebrating their claim to a national title even if critics shrugged it aside. Although Saban offered some praise for what UCF accomplished last season, including beating an Auburn team that Saba’s Tide could not, Saban suggested that UCF’s claim to a national title carries little weight.

“I guess anybody has the prerogative to claim anything,” Saban said to USA Today, commenting on UCF’s claim to a national championship for the 2017 season. “But self-proclaimed is not the same as actually earning it. And there’s probably a significant number of people who don’t respect people who make self-proclaimed sort of accolades for themselves.”

Saban has a legitimate point, of course. Alabama may not have won their own division but they were selected by the College Football Playoff selection committee to participate in the four-team playoff to determine a true national champion. And to Alabama’s credit, they took advantage of that opportunity by dominating ACC champion Clemson in the national semifinal and then coming from behind to upset SEC champion Georgia. UCF may have gone undefeated last season, with wins against USF, Memphis and Auburn to close out their undefeated campaign, but years from now it will be widely accepted that Alabama was the national champion while UCF is still free to claim their national title as well. College football is loaded with claimed national titles, including some by Alabama of course, so what UCF is doing is nothing out of the ordinary for the history of the sport.

Of course, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn isn’t about to get caught up in the drama despite playing a key role into the Alabama-UCF national title debate.

“They played extremely well that day (in the Peach Bowl),” Malzahn said at a golf tournament, according to Al.com. “We didn’t play our best, but give those guys credit. They played extremely well and got after us.”

Realizing Malzahn didn’t exactly answer the question regarding the national championship claim by UCF, Malzahn stood his ground when asked again.

“They played real well that day,” Malzahn said, “and we didn’t play that well.”

It must be a tough spot for Malzahn seeing as Alabama is his top rival and the other team claiming a national title is using his Auburn team to help support the argument.

Former UCF head coach and current Nebraska head coach Scott Frost has no regrets over his comments about likely not standing behind UCF’s national title claim the way the school has gone about it.

Scott Frost admitted he thought UCF didn’t have a chance vs. Auburn (he was wrong)

Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Nebraska head coach had one last task to complete with UCF before moving on to Lincoln full-time, and it was one he did not feel would end well. In the postgame celebration in the locker room as UCF celebrated their Peach Bowl victory over Auburn to complete a 13-0 season, leading UCF a case to claim a national championship, Frost reportedly admitted to his UCF players he was skeptical about their chances of winning the game.

“Coming back and trying to help you win this thing, if I’m keeping it real, I didn’t think we had a damn chance because of all the circumstances surrounding it,” Frost reportedly told his team, according to The Orlando Sentinel. “But you guys found a way to dial it in, you found a way to play harder than them.”

The quote comes from a featurette video produced by UCF honoring the latest accomplishment. You can hear the quote in the last couple of minutes of the video.

In the video, Frost tells UCF players he will be heading off to Nebraska to try and put together another group of players that have a similar bond to the ones UCF had during their undefeated run. UCF has hired former Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Heupel to be the next head coach, while Frost is now working at Nebraska.

Scott Frost adds AP Coach of the Year to award haul

Photo by Logan Bowles/Getty Images
2 Comments

Scott Frost will have to make room for a little more hardware as he moves to Nebraska. On Monday, the Associated Press named Frost its coach of the year for the 2017 season.

Frost received 21 first-place votes and 100 total points in the voting consisting of 57 voters in the AP Top 25. Frost beat out Georgia head coach Kirby Smart and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney for the award following an undefeated 12-0 season at UCF that ended with an AAC championship and a berth in the Peach Bowl as the highest-ranked Group of Five conference champion. Despite already being hired to be the head coach at Nebraska and UCF hiring a new head coach, Frost has stayed committed to coaching the Knights in the bowl game even if it makes for some long days flying between Lincoln and Orlando as he pulls double duty.

Frost turned UCF football around in short order. After inheriting a team that had gone 0-12 just prior to his arrival, Frost reinvigorated the mindset of the program and led UCF to a 6-7 season in his debut as UCF head coach in 2016. To follow that up in 2017, Frost led UCF to an undefeated season and conference championship to help return the program to a big bowl game for the first time since facing Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl with Blake Bortles at quarterback.

Frost already collected a few coach of the year honors with the Eddie Robinson Award from the Football Writers Association of America and the Home Depot Coach of the Year award.

Scott Frost: I’m hoping the Big Ten has to modify their system for us

AP Photo/Nick Ut
8 Comments

A day after winning the American Athletic Conference championship, Scott Frost was introduced as the new head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers at his first official press conference as a member of the Nebraska program. As you might expect, Frost is widely being hailed as a “home run” hire for Nebraska, and he scored his first victory at Nebraska with a genuine and heartfelt and refreshing press conference in front of the Nebraska media.

Asked how he would modify his offensive system to fit in the Big Ten, Frost offered a response that won the room over to a round of applause.

“I’m hoping the Big Ten is going to have to modify their system to us,” Frost replied. The room burst into applause for a few moments.

Frost confirmed his intention to coach UCF in the bowl game for the undefeated Knights, saying he felt it was his duty to give UCF the best possible chance to end the season with a win after going through so much with his now previous employer. Frost also suggested he hopes most of his UCF staff comes with him to Lincoln, although the exact staff will be determined. With early signing now in play in college football, Frost understands there is a need to focus on recruiting in a short period of time. Moving on from UCF as quickly as possible would have some benefits, but Frost’s commitment to finishing the job at UCF could end up paying off for his job at Nebraska as well.

UCF clinches NY6 bowl bid as AAC champs and Scott Frost avoids question about Nebraska

AP Photo
2 Comments

If you wanted an offensive shootout, you certainly got it in the American Athletic Conference championship game. After out-lasting No. 20 Memphis (10-2) for a second straight shootout victory, this time in a 62-55 double-overtime thriller, No. 14 UCF (12-0) will get their chance to score a signature victory against a power conference opponent in the New Years Six bowl lineup. At 12-0, UCF essentially clinched their spot in the big game bowl lineup to be determined by the College Football Playoff selection committee tomorrow. We may not have to wait quite as long to learn about the future of UCF head coach Scott Frost.

Memphis forced the AAC championship to go to overtime with two fourth-quarter touchdowns to tie the game at 48-48. Memphis had a chance to win the game in regulation but could not convert on a long field goal in the final minute. UCF also could not take advantage of a last-minute possession and gave the ball back to Memphis by way of an interception. But little time remaining, Memphis could not get into field goal range. So the game went to overtime after 96 points and 1,399 yards of offenses.

After the teams traded touchdowns in the first overtime, UCF opened the second overtime with a touchdown run by Otis Anderson. Memphis kept the game alive with a great fourth down conversion between Riley Ferguson and Anthony Miller, but Ferguson was picked off a couple of plays later by Tre Neal.

It was the only interception of the game thrown by Ferguson, who passed for 471 yards and four touchdowns. Miller caught 14 passes for 195 yards and three scores and Memphis had two 100-yard rushers with Darrell Henderson and Patrick Taylor Jr. UCF’s box score was loaded a swell. McKenzie Milton passed for 494 yards and five touchdowns to overcome three interceptions in the game. Anderson rushed for 117 yards and Tre'Quan Smith accounted for 161 yards and two scores. Dredrick Snelson also had 145 yards and two touchdowns.

As the highest-ranked conference champion, UCF will be rewarded with the lone spot in the New Years Six bowl lineup reserved for the highest-ranked conference champion from the Group of Five conferences. It is only fitting this year’s spot goes to the only undefeated team in the country outside of Wisconsin (and if Wisconsin loses in the Big Ten championship game, UCF will be the only undefeated team in the country).

UCF may be heading to the Peach Bowl or another New Years Six bowl game, but Frost could be making his way to Lincoln, Nebraska. It was a storyline that was unavoidable for the ABC telecast in the beginning of the game, and for good reason. Frost has been one of the hottest names in the coaching carousel, and the undefeated run by UCF was a big part of the reason why that was the case. Various reports and rumors have suggested Frost is already on his way to Nebraska to be the next head coach, but nothing official has been announced on either end. Frost declined to answer the question about accepting the Nebraska job in his on-field postgame interview.

We’ll probably find out in the next 24-36 hours where UCF will be heading for the bowl season, and the decision of Frost will not be lingering too far behind if it has yet to be made official one way or the other by then. Memphis will still be heading to a bowl game as one of the top AAC representatives too, but it will not have the same prestige as the big bowl game lineup. Memphis head coach Mike Norvell could also remain a name to watch on the coaching carousel’s radar too.