Even as we head deeper into the NFL Playoffs and Alabama’s college football championship is in the rear view mirror, the talk about Central Florida’s National Championship claim continues on, as pundits, especially those on audio platforms where calls now turn from final game to spring practice and coaching changes.
The bottom line is, no matter what side you are on the debate can rage on, but one thing is clear; from a buzzworthy, noteworthy and creative standpoint the Knights won the day.
Let’s not forget, UCF opened the season as a pretty big afterthought not just in football but in their own state, and they took down every opponent they had the opportunity to play, including Auburn, which had beaten both Alabama and Georgia. They handled every debate and every situation without huge complaints and stayed on point and on message throughout the end of the season and into the debate for national titles, even though one would be crowned by the four selected playoff schools. Did they show criticism. Yes. Did they find a way to ride the high road to an even better plateau? Yes.
Then you had the actions of Athletic Director Danny White and his team who used the platform as a creative cause celebre when they could have been complaining, playing a tough situation into not just POSITIVE words, but creative actions.
They took advantage of being close to the “House of Mouse,” and worked with Disney to ride their trophy through the Magic Kingdom on New Year’s Day. Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer seized the moment, and presented the Knights with the keys to the city. White even took an even bigger step and paid its coaches their contractual national championship bonuses and ordered national championship rings. And yes there will be a national championship banner raised, even if it is only recognized on campus. All of which got great exposure on social and traditional media and extended the debate, and the accomplishments of UCF, and further paved the way for perhaps an American Athletic team on a similar path to get an even better look at the playoff down the line.
The other, unspoken message sent by White and UCF to players, supporters, alumni and yes, recruits is that you have a school that not only has your back, but it will go above and beyond to support the just cause, and to find new and creative ways to promote the school and its athletes and coaches to a national audience.
Will some say all of this was hokey and without merit? Yes. However in a time when there is lots of white noise and mot times there is a lack of creativity in promotion, UCF found ways to be creative, respectful and cut through the clutter to tell a story and be relevant when they could have just drifted into the college football ether, and that alone makes their efforts championship worthy, at least in the world of promotion.
Good on ya, Knights, don’t ever back down from a fun challenge.