Brynn Anderson/Associated Press
UCF finished last season with a 13-0 record, but Nick Saban isn’t ready to concede the national championship that his Alabama squad won.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for their team and what they were able to accomplish,” Saban said of UCF Tuesday, per George Schroeder of USA Today.
However, he didn’t believe this was enough to justify the Knights’ claim of being national champions.
“I guess anybody has the prerogative to claim anything,” Saban added. “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.”
UCF not only finished with an undefeated record, the squad defeated Auburn in the Peach Bowl, which had beaten both Alabama and national runner-up Georgia during the regular season.
Athletic director Danny White felt this was enough to proclaim the Knights as national champions, complete with a banner and rings as well as a parade at Disney World.
However, the team finished just sixth in the final Associated Press poll while Alabama was No. 1.
The Crimson Tide went through the full process of winning a title, including earning a spot in the College Football Playoff before defeating Clemson and Georgia.
Even then-UCF head coach Scott Frost, who is now at Nebraska, admitted his team wasn’t actually the champions for the 2017 season.
“At the end of the day, the Playoff system is that the national champion is the team that wins the Playoff,” he explained.
You could argue UCF deserved a better chance at the title, but Saban clearly doesn’t believe in teams just calling themselves champions.