Tennessee athletics director Danny White won't apologize for UCF's 'national championship'
Danny White remembers the feeling of being left out.
The former Central Florida athletic director, now in the same capacity at Tennessee, watched the top four teams being revealed for the 2017 College Football Playoff. After a 12-0 season and an American Athletic Conference championship, Central Florida's football team wasn't among them.
In fact, the Knights weren't even in the top 10, falling to No. 12 despite being the only undefeated team in the Top 25.
That left UCF with what felt like a consolation bid against No. 7 Auburn in the Peach Bowl, a game that the Knights won 34-27.
"What those kids accomplished that year needed to be defended," White said on Friday. "I felt like in the role that I was in, I needed to fight for them and what they had accomplished. It was phenomenal. ... I'd do it again for any of our teams here."
After capping off an undefeated regular season with a statement win against a Power 5 team in a New Year's Six bowl, UCF, spearheaded by White, claimed a share of the national championship.
The program added a banner to the Bounce House that read "2017 National Champions" and order custom national championship rings.
While White, who joined UCF in 2015, and the football program drew a lot of criticism, he used the situation as an opportunity to have open discussions about the College Football Playoff format, which only allows the top four teams to compete.
UCF was the only team in the nation to finish the season undefeated, but the College Football Playoff committee has often been unkind to Group 5 teams.
White immediately pointed out the need for expansion to promote a more competitive atmosphere, and crown a "true" national champion.
It's a stance that he's supported ever since, and one that gained more traction in 2020. Two undefeated Group 5 teams— Cincinnati (8-0) and Coastal Carolina (11-0) — each with an impressive résumé of Top 25 teams, did not make the playoff.
Coastal Carolina, in similar fashion to UCF, finished at No. 12.
White is optimistic that the College Football Playoff is close to a revamp, one that he still hopes is more inclusive despite now being at a Power 5 institution.
"I look forward to a better postseason," White said. "I think we're on the right track to get it. I think it's going to be awesome for college football. It's going to be awesome for Tennessee."