UCF claims national title, Magic Kingdom to host parade

Knights finish season undefeated but not invited to playoff

Shaquem Griffin #18 of the UCF Knights holds the trophy after defeating the Auburn Tigers 34-27 to win the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 1, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Getty Images)

ORLANDO, Fla. – UCF, which finished its football season undefeated by beating Auburn in the Peach Bowl, is claiming that it won the 2017 national championship and will hang a banner inside Spectrum Stadium and have a parade at Magic Kingdom for the team, athletic director Danny White said.

The Knights beat the Tigers 34-27 to cap a 13-0 season, finishing the season as the only undefeated team in college football.

The Knights, however, entered its bowl game ranked No. 12 by the College Football Playoff selection committee and were not given an opportunity to play for the national title. The top four teams were Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia and Alabama. Georgia and Alabama, both SEC teams, will play for the championship.

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UCF, however, is claiming its stake to the title, changing its Twitter display name to "2017 National Champions." 

White told ESPN Radio's Dan Le Batard on Tuesday that the school is planning a parade to celebrate the team. White told Orlando radio station 96.9 The Game about plans for the banner.

A parade will be held for the team at Disney's Magic Kingdom on Jan. 7. The football team, cheerleaders and the marching band will make their way down Main Street, U.S.A. at 4:30 p.m.

"If you take the long view of the history of college football, there's an awful lot of national championships being claimed by universities that didn't accomplish what we accomplished this year in those respective seasons, so we feel we're more than justified to claim our first national championship, and we think it'll be the first of many," White told ESPN.

Asked on Twitter if UCF would give its football coaches the bonuses associated with national championships, White responded, “Of course we are!”

White said coaches were told Monday that they would be receiving bonuses.

UCF associate athletics director for communications Andy Seeley told USA Today that UCF will divvy up $325,000 between nine on-field assistant coached and support staff.

Alabama recognizes 1973 as a championship year even though the Crimson Tide lost to Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl. 

White is hopeful that the playoff expands to eight teams, giving teams outside the so-called Power 5 conferences a better shot in the future.

Until then, White said the Knights deserve to be recognized.

"It's a proud moment for our university," White told ESPN. "Having an undefeated football season is unique, and this is a moment in time we don't want to forget, and it deserves to be memorialized with a national championship banner."

White also said national championship gear is "on the way."

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