In a state with so many programs, there should be a state champion
Maybe the most enduring quality of college sports, the thing more than anything else that gets people coming back through all the coaching changes and all of the scandals, is the institution’s penchant for local rivalries.
Throughout college sports, there are regional trophies and championships to be had. College basketball has early season tournaments that, at bare minimum, enhance rivalries between conferences while preparing teams for March Madness. Throughout the college football world there are trophies like Paul Bunyan’s Axe and many others that go to the team that wins an annual rivalry game. In the college hockey world, the Beanpot provides bragging rights to one of Boston’s four top division, kicks off the playoff hockey season, and cements that team as a national championship contender.
Yet in Florida, there is no official college football state champion. No trophy is awarded, no honors given to the school at the top of the heap in the Sunshine State. In the Great Back When, Miami and Florida State used to play for the Seminole War Canoe, but that award has been retired, and even before it was it left out all the other Florida football programs, most notably the University of Florida Gators.
Here at Sports Talk Florida, we intend to do our part to rectify that. Introducing the Florida Championship, a measure of the schools in the Sunshine State stacked up against one another. There will be no trophy to award, no championship round where the top two Florida schools face each other, but as Florida is one of college football’s most fanatical states, it’s one that should have its own state championship.
When the University of Central Florida won the Peach Bowl, finishing off their undefeated season, they were left with a mix of excitement and disappointment. The historic and milestone season for UCF was to be celebrated, of course, but the Knights and their fans thought the team deserved a shot at the big title.
Imagine if they had been awarded some kind of a trophy, some kind of award, for being the best team in Florida. That means a lot to schools like Central and South Florida, as they have existed under the thumb of, and at times seemingly at the whim of, the big three programs in the state. They would still understandably feel left out of the College Football Playoff, but it’s worth wondering if the declaration that they were national champions would have been averted with, say, a trip to the Orange Bowl and a showdown with Miami for the state title.
Of course, head to head matchups will come up from time to time. How UCF does in the War on I-4 in Tampa this year will go a long way toward any claim they might have to this title. Miami comes in as the likely favorite in our ranking, but a stumble against Florida State could turn that tide in a hurry. Of course, if Florida is the resurgent team our own Jaquan Cathey thinks they might be, that Thanksgiving Weekend game between UF and FSU might be a sort of title game.
The Florida Rankings will be released on Monday afternoons, with commentary from some of our voters sprinkled throughout.
With UCF starting Thursday night, and the rest of the Florida schools in action throughout the weekend, whatever your fanhood we at Sports Talk Florida wish you the best of luck, and we all hope you have as much fun watching college football as we do.