For Pete's Sake

AP poll voters who picked Central Florida as No. 1 team explain their decision

Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin (left) kissed the championship trophy as Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton looks on after the Peach Bowl on Jan. 1 in Atlanta. Central Florida won 34-27.
Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin (left) kissed the championship trophy as Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton looks on after the Peach Bowl on Jan. 1 in Atlanta. Central Florida won 34-27. The Associated Press

No surprise here, but Alabama was the No. 1 ranked team in the final Associated Press poll of the season.

One thing that might be surprising: four voters picked 13-0 Central Florida as the No. 1 team in the country over the 13-1 Crimson Tide.

Alabama was ranked first in the final AP poll, followed by Georgia, Oklahoma, Clemson, Ohio State and Central Florida. The Crimson Tide received 57 of the 61 first-place votes. The Knights got the other four votes.

Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald was one of those four and he explained why in a piece for the paper.

“Alabama did not win its league or even its division,” McKewon wrote. “A small blue ribbon panel elected the Crimson Tide to make the College Football Playoff as a No. 4 seed. Am I, or any AP voter, bound to the panel's determination? I am not.

“So a voter is left deciding with a choice, in a sense. If I think UCF is one of the top four teams that won a conference title, then it’s not much of a leap — not a leap at all — to make them No. 1. After all, what’s the difference between Ohio State and Alabama, other than a playoff committee’s ranking? Not much.”

McKewon also picked Ohio State ahead of Oklahoma, even though the Sooners thumped the Buckeyes in Columbus.

Ryan Aber of the Oklahoman also had Central Florida ranked first and wrote about his decision.

“Do I think UCF would go undefeated against the schedule that Georgia or Alabama or Oklahoma or Clemson played? No,” Aber wrote.

“Would I have voted UCF No. 1 had it played Ohio State or Wisconsin or any team other than Auburn in the bowl game? Frankly, no.

“But they played Auburn, beat them, and here we are.

“Georgia’s win over Auburn in the SEC Championship Game game me pause. It would’ve given me cover to vote Georgia No. 1 with its win. But in the end I felt that was a cop out.

“So UCF it is, even if I was put-off by much of their national championship celebrations before any national championships were declared.”

Ed Daigneault of the Republican-American tweeted about his decision after seeing Aber’s message on Twitter.

“Yes, I voted UCF No. 1 for the same reason,” Daigneault wrote. “Typically hate the transitive property but UCF deserves recognition.”

Safid Deen of the Orlando Sentinel was the fourth voter to pick Central Florida as the No. 1 team.

He tweeted: “I’ve submitted my final AP Top 25 football poll for the season. ... And I’ll say this: If it’s not about winning and losing, what are we really doing here, fam?”

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff

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