Tom Keegan: Playoff selection committee Frost-bitten by UCF

New Nebraska head NCAA college football coach Scott Frost takes a question during a news conference in Lincoln, Neb., Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017. Frost is returning to Nebraska after orchestrating a stunning two-year turnaround at Central Florida. The native son quarterbacked the Cornhuskers to a share of the national championship 20 years ago and coached UCF to a 13-0 record this season, two years after inheriting a program coming off an 0-12 record.  (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

It’s not enough to celebrate UCF for the greatest two-year turnaround in college football history.

Calling for an expansion to an eight-team playoff that includes one automatic berth for a school from outside the football Power Five, although on-point, falls short of giving Central Florida the respect it deserves.

Nothing shy of assigning a No. 1 ranking to the school and recognizing it as co-national champion does justice to this season’s best story in college football. UCF ought not be ranked second to anyone.

The Knights faced plenty of tough challenges, starting with scheduling games in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, and continuing with a tougher-than-most-realize American Athletic conference slate.

And UCF emerged from it all with a 13-0 record, capping its storybook season with a 34-27 victory over No. 7 Auburn Monday in the Peach Bowl.

The four-team playoff was supposed to clear up the murky national-championship picture, but it didn’t work the moment the selection committee included Alabama at the expense of the undefeated Knights. Alabama didn’t qualify for the SEC title game, but still was allowed a shot to get to the national title game.

The UCF blunder won’t make whichever school wins two playoff games a tainted champion. It will make the four-team playoff system a pointless one, though.

The solution is obvious: Eight teams with automatic bids going to the champions of the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC, plus a place reserved for the school the committee deems the best from outside the Power Five. That leaves two at-large spots, which means the committee can focus on three openings.

This, of course, would have been the perfect year to roll out such a format, but there will be others that cry out for an eight-team playoff.

Excluding UCF, a school based in Orlando with an enrollment of 64,000-plus, denied college football an undisputed champion and a chance to bask in the glow of a phenomenal underdog story, had the Knights emerged from two playoff games as champs.

Before dismissing UCF as a pretender, consider that eight of its victories came against schools that played in bowl games.

Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and Oklahoma all played tougher schedules, but that doesn’t change the fact that UCF turned back every challenge and all four playoff schools lost a game. Clemson lost to 4-8 Syracuse, Oklahoma to 8-5 Iowa State. Alabama and Georgia lost to the same Auburn team that UCF defeated in the Peach Bowl. Georgia earned its place in the playoff by avenging its loss to Auburn, 28-7, in the SEC title game.

The school's rapid ascension from the depths of college football doesn't speak to its playoff worthiness, but does boggle the mind.

UCF hired Scott Frost to take the reins of a program coming off an 0-12 season in 2015, the year Kansas produced an identical record. In his second season on the job, Frost's team went 13-0, a year after making a bowl game. KU went 1-11 in David Beaty's third season. (Yes, apologists, I know Kansas faces a tougher schedule than UCF, but that doesn't change that one coach led a surreal reversal and the other is stuck in neutral, going the juco recruiting route to try to get out of the rut.)

Frost leaves for his alma mater, Nebraska, and the Big Ten, where, if he can cash in on his remarkable work at UCF to upgrade recruiting, his path to a national title won't be blocked by a selection committee's bias in favor of big-money conferences.

Comments

Aaron Paisley

Here's the big difference between what Scott Frost inherited and what David Beaty inherited. Go back two more years to 2013 when the current crop of redshirt senior HS recruits were true freshmen. KU went 3-9 while UCF went 12-1 on their way to defeating Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl.

UCF's 2015 season was a blip on their radar while KU's 2015 season was part of an ongoing decade of disappointment.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Tom Keegan

Wow! Denial rages more powerfully than The Nile.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Ray Winger

I think that Aaron has an excellent point! Who is stuck in Denial? How many Juco recruits did Scott Frost garner during his short turn around? This is getting so tiresome. I read a story, thinking it may be an interesting insightful view on the UCF victory over powerhouse Auburn (with Kansas Braden Smith), and it is just a subterfuge to attack our football program...a g a i n.
I remember looking at the KU/KSU box score, and feeling like our program was making good progress.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Tom Keegan

Ray,

That was one game, the closest FBS outcome all year for Kansas. I don't believe in spinning a bad situation into a good one. This program is in an eight-year hole. A year from now it will be a nine-year hole and it could have been a seven-year hole if a coaching change had taken place. Two-year mistake.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Aaron Paisley

If I'm in denial, then explain how Scott Frost inherited a worse situation than Beaty did?

KU went 3-9 in 2013 while UCF went 12-1 with a Fiesta owl win over Baylor. That's not a denial, that's stating facts Tom.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Tom Keegan

Yes, he did, but wow, Beaty followed the 0-12 with 2-10 and 1-11. Frost followed it with 6-7, 13-0. He and his staff did a phenomenal job of developing the talent they had.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Aaron Paisley

They have done a good job of developing talent. It's much easier to do so when a program is accustomed to winning like UCF is. Did you know that UCF won 31 games in the 3 years prior to their 0-12 season. Did you also know that UCF has made bowl games in 7 of their past 9 seasons while winning 4 conference titles and playing for a 5th during that time.

I don't know about you, but I'd say Scott Frost inherited a situation much more conducive to a quick turnaround than what Beaty inherited.

Scott Frost's successor will definitely inherit a better situation than Beaty's successor will, but Beaty's successor will inherit a much better situation than the one Beaty inherited and won't need 5 years of rebuilding to just get scholarship numbers in balance.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Andy Tweedy

I don't see how this is denial by Aaron. I don't even know if he supports the current coaching staff from what he says. Here in Omaha, the facts Aaron points out have been discussed quite a bit (in regard to Frost), it's' actually an important distinction between the two. If you're going to compare the two situations, you can't just run with what supports the narrative you're painting. I'm shocked we didn't change coaches, but I still agree 100% with Aaron's point here.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Andy Godwin

And he left for Nebraska. Hard to build a consistent program with a revolving door of coaches. Will be interesting to see what he left in UCF’s cupboard.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Tom Keegan

He and staff are obviously good evaluators and developers of talent, so his replacement will inherit a better situation than the next KU coach will.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Aaron Paisley

UCF was loaded with upperclassmen that Frost inherited. He can thank George O'Leary for the players he inherited. How many of Frost's own recruits played a major role this tear compared to O'Leary recruits?

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Brett McCabe

Wrong-o Reindeer. Recruiting rankings beginning 2014: UCF 73. 2015: UCF 63. 2016: UCF 57.

So, UCF is "loaded" with a roster that never got anywhere close to the top 25 of recruiting classes in the country? How, exactly, was that undefeated team "loaded"? Frost won with a loaded roster from O'Leary? It seems like Frost actually coached better, evaluated better and managed his roster better.

Facts are facts. KU's program is in a ditch. UCF's should have earned a spot in the playoff. Period. End of story.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Aaron Paisley

UCF is consistently among the top Group of 5 in recruiting rankings which us why they are consistently contending for C-USA and now AAC titles.

Also, 2014 and 2015 are not Scott Frost classes and 2016 is not a complete Scott Frost class.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Dirk Medema

Tom - The same can be said of Coach Beaty and staff - "He and staff are obviously good evaluators and developers of talent, so his replacement will inherit a better situation than the next KU coach will." unless there is a particular agenda to attack the current staff. There were quality players at KU before Coach Beaty got here, but he inherited a crater of a roster and has rebuilt it to the point where there are close to 85 true scholarship players, and at least a handful that are again receiving post-season recognition as evidenced by your nice article about Evan Fairs and others.

It is disappointing that you would cherry pick one stat (0-12) out of all the other info to build an argument/attack. UCF was obviously in a better situation based on their past record. That's a simple fact. It is also fairly simple that the AAC is an easier location to turn around a program, which is also why they unfortunately are not in the CFP.

And Brett - There was no, zero, nada comment about a top 25 recruiting class, so you are arguing with yourself. You appear to believe that "loaded" can only mean the quality of player, and that quality can only be reflected in the program's recruiting ranking. "Loaded" could, and I would offer more likely does refer to the quantity of players. "Loaded" could mean that their 2-deep roster could be primarily upperclassmen that were not recruited by the current staff.

Coach Frost and staff obviously did a great job getting that ship that was dead in the water moving again, but it was most definitely not the same situation that Coach Beaty and staff inherited. It is a shame that a potentially nice article about a quality coaching job and potential wart on the CFP is turned into an internal attack, though that does appear to be the agenda these days.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Blake Phillips

Anyone on this thread bashing Tom Keegan is an idiot - plain and simple.

Kansas football is coached by a moron. I've heard many rumblings from former players that Beaty is an idiot and his practice regiment is middle school football routine.

David Beaty is a sorry excuse for a coach. Tom Keegan on the other hand is an avid viewer of sports and someone who pays close attention to every element of football/basketball landscape in college. HIS JOB IS TO ACCESS SPORTS! not to just merely read the "boxscores" like most of you idiots do.

Tom Keegans knows David Beaty sucks and he's doing everythingin his power to make sure the stupid fans catch on....... DAVID BEATY IS A HORRIBLE COACH!

stop pretending and stop being naive...... hoping he'll turn it around. HE WONT! HE SUCKS!

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Bryson Stricker

Tom, what record do you think UCF would have had playing Kansas schedule. I'm genuinely interested in your response.

Thanks.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Brett McCabe

Better than David Beaty's. Probably by 10 wins, at least.

And, of course, I know you will want to be fair by asking a second question: what would UCF's record have been if Beaty had been the coach?

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Bryson Stricker

If you take the team's Scott had and had them play Beaty's schedule, they would have gone 0-12, 1-11, and then this year's UCF team would have done quite well. I'd say 8-4. The difference being, he wouldn't be able to form this team after following 0-12 up with 1-11, the intangibles wouldn't have been there.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Michael Sillman

UCF was certainly the feel good story of the college football season but it would not have beaten any of the four teams in the playoffs.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Brett McCabe

Why? They beat Auburn, the 7th-ranked team in the country, a divisional SEC champ and a team that beat not one, but two of the playoff teams.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Paul Brittain

Their best wins in the regular season were USF, Memphis and, I guess, Maryland. That's not worthy of Playoff consideration and doesn't do anything do indicate that the Playoff needs to be expanded. Do we really need to see UGA or Bama kick UCF's ass to know they don't belong? OU would have run them off the field.

They had a great year and it was a great story and massive credit to Scott Frost for seeing it through but that's it.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Dirk Medema

Michael - I would offer that the more appropriate comment is that they would not have survived a P5 schedule undefeated, and therefore maybe not in contention for the CFP. As Brett points out, they did beat Auburn, who beat Georgia and Alabama - the 2 teams in the NCG. The question is could they come back next week and beat either of those teams, and then the other the following week. That's the reality of a P5 conference schedule and the shortcoming of the Group of 5. Hopefully, someday they'll get a chance to be included.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Michael Sillman

Wow, Blake. Somebody needs a hug.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Karen Mansfield-Stewart

UCF deserves that Big 12 conference invitation!

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Mike Greer

Yeh, if the Big XII wants to stay at 10 teams, and it's all about football, they could take Kansas place.

Seriously, KU has made one bad football hire after another. I fully understand differences in programs, but Coach Mangino was able to turn around the titanic, there must be another coach that can do the same. As much as Nebraska fans thought of Turner Gill, you haven't seen him on their short list of candidates. Charlie Wise was just a disaster, and Beatey obviously over hyped. I was at an alumni event not long after he was hired, he talks a good game, but three years later there has been no improvement. When your teams poor performance results in the number of de-commits Kansas had you know you're going in the wrong direction.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Dirk Medema

Stop with the nonsense of no improvement. Yes, yes, the record this year was a disappointment and not an improvement, and that is the ultimate barometer, but it is just wrong to say there has been no improvement.

Coach Beaty inherited a crater of a roster with only 50-some players and has built it back to close to 85. That is improvement. He also took a roster with zero players receiving post-season recognition and has developed it to again having 5. That too is improvement.

Unfortunately, 5 players is a far cry from the 24+ needed for a quality program and leave lots of holes that are readily exploited by other programs.

Coach Beaty has accomplished his first task as a head coach - rebuild the roster, and deserves credit for that. Whether he is good enough at the in game and all the other tasks of a head coach remains to be seen, and admittedly has a cloudy forecast. He does deserve credit for what he has accomplished even if it isn't enough.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Steve Corder

Tom's right about Frost being a good evaluator. I like the 8 team with automatic selection for his listed conference champions.

But, disagree about 8 team proposal in this respect: Mandating at least one selection from outside a P5 conference is similar to affirmative action.

If Tom's proposals would have been in place this year then UCF would have made it into the playoffs by merit.

Tom's point to UCF turn-around needs no lather for what is painfully obvious.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Jerry Walker

Frost/Beaty comparisons are not really necessary...regardless of the situations the results speak for themselves.

Frost did a helluva job and Beaty is a failure.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Bob Bailey

Not to say our talent pool was atrocious, maybe till this year. The big problem is that the coaches don't know how to use them.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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John Brazelton

Florida has 100+ football talented high school recruits each year. Kansas has less than 10 each year. It's much easier to turn a program around in Florida than Kansas. The Nebraska-California recruiting pipeline will switch to Nebraska-Florida pipeline starting next season with Frost as the HC.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Michael Sillman

Auburn was a dispirited flat team with very little to play for in the postseason. UCF was fired up to get into a New Year’s Day game. I am not at all surprised that UCF won. Any number of teams would have taken down Auburn yesterday.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Robert Brock

Has Zenger turned things around? Is KU football better with Sheahon Zenger as the AD? Or is it just a laughingstock?

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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