Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby doesn’t want to hear talk about how the College Football Playoff should expand to give teams like undefeated UCF a chance to get in the field.
The Knights are claiming a national championship after going 13-0 this season, including a win over SEC West champion Auburn in the Peach Bowl this week. The school is even paying its coaches, many of whom are leaving for Nebraska, their national championship bonuses. UCF is the first FBS team to ever remain undefeated through bowl season in the playoff era, leading some to question why it didn’t get a chance to play for the national title.
However, Bowlsby told ESPN’s Heather Dinich the playoff committee was fair to exclude the Knights because of their strength of schedule. He pointed to his own conference as an example.
“It’s fair because playing in the American Athletic [Conference] is not the same as playing in the Big Ten or the SEC or the Big 12, it’s just not,” Bowlsby said. “They have some big games, but they don’t have an Iowa State who can beat a second-ranked Oklahoma.”
UCF won the AAC this season with wins over Memphis twice, Navy, SMU and USF. Both of UCF’s victories against Memphis were bigger than Iowa State’s 1-point margin against the Tigers in the Liberty Bowl. They had two Power 5 opponents on the schedule to start the season. They beat Maryland 38-10 on the road weeks after the Terrapins beat Texas in Austin, though Maryland had lost its starting quarterback for the season by that point. Their game against Georgia Tech was canceled due to severe weather.
The Knights also beat Auburn, which notched wins over both teams playing in the national championship game next week: Alabama and Georgia. However, Bowlsby argued that if the Knights played Power 5 conference opponents every week, they wouldn’t have the same level of success.
“If TCU and UCF played 10 times, I defy anybody to convince me that UCF would win the majority of the games,” Bowlby said. “Of course I’ve only been looking at it for 35 years.”