Central Florida, which is claiming a “national championship” after finishing 13-0 with a win against Auburn in the Peach Bowl, is putting its money where its mouth is and paying bonuses to its former assistant coaches that would have been associated with winning a national championship.
According to associate athletics director for communications Andy Seeley, UCF is distributing an additional $300,000 to the nine on-field assistants and $25,000 to the support staff, which will be divvied up at the discretion of head coach Scott Frost, who is departing for Nebraska, with the approval of athletics director Danny White.
UCF, of course, did not win the officially recognized national title, which will go to the winner of the College Football Playoff championship game Monday night between Alabama and Georgia. But UCF claiming a national championship has brought attention to the debate over whether schools in the Group of Five are treated fairly in the current playoff structure. During rounds of media interviews this week, White said UCF will hold a championship parade and even hang a banner in its stadium declaring itself the national champion.
“We’re definitely getting a banner,” he said on 96.9 The Game in Orlando. “We won a national championship and we’re going to treat it as such. These kids deserve that. Like other football programs do all across the country, you claim a national championship, you’re the only undefeated team in a season, we’re going to hang a banner."
The move harkens back to the pre-Playoff and pre-BCS days where national championship trophies for college football were given out based on media and coaches’ polls, and sometimes they differed. Schools such as Alabama and Oklahoma State have notoriously gone back into the 1940s — the “wire service era,” as it were — to retroactively claim championships in years where more than one team was recognized as the national champion based on best historical data available.
The Playoff, of course, was supposed to bring an end to such nonsense. And even though UCF is part of the system as an FBS member, trying to claim a national championship while not being selected for the Playoff highlights the inequity of being in a league like the American, where its undefeated record was not judged to be as strong as the four teams from power conferences who all made it in with one loss.
At the very least, UCF’s move to pay the bonuses shows it’s not just rhetoric.
Frost himself will not receive any additional pay, as his bonuses were capped in his UCF contract at $250,000, a number he reached by winning the Peach Bowl.
The $300,000 assistants’ incentive pool for a national championship was outlined in Frost’s original contract and must be paid on the first regular pay period after March 1 of each year. This will be paid even though Frost’s entire staff is leaving with him to Nebraska.
Meanwhile, Frost’s pay during the month of December was split between the two schools as he managed the transition while still coaching the Knights as they prepared for the Peach Bowl.
According to Seeley, UCF paid 51% of his monthly pay rate based on his contract there ($85,000) while Nebraska paid 49% of his monthly pay rate based on his new contract ($204,167)
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