While Alabama won the official College Football Playoff national championship last season, it hasn’t stopped UCF from “claiming” the title for themselves. This has caused an interesting back and forth all offseason.
The Knights declared themselves national champions and their fans taunted Alabama on its home turf. The athletic directors of both schools got involved as well, and the “feud” extended over into draft prep.
Now, Nick Saban has weighed in. Saban was asked by USA TODAY’s George Schroeder about UCF’s 2017 season and the program’s claiming of a national title.
Saban said he has “a tremendous amount of respect” for what UCF accomplished by going undefeated, but he didn’t have much praise for them naming themselves the champs.
“If you honor and respect the system that we have, (despite) some of the imperfections that you understand that the system has, then you wouldn’t do something out of respect for the system that we have,” Saban told USA TODAY Sports. “I guess anybody has the prerogative to claim anything. 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.”
Of course, there have been plenty of programs over the years that have “claimed” national championships, including Alabama. Some of those claims have been dubious at best.
However, the game is the game. The College Football Playoff does exclude the “little guy” and the non-Power 5 programs, and there’s room to talk about reform.
For now, the system is what it is.
And Alabama was the top team in the nation according to that system.