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Womack Publications paper PGJ declares UCF National Champions - Independent-Messenger: News

Womack Publications paper PGJ declares UCF National Champions

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Posted: Thursday, January 11, 2018 12:00 am

On Jan. 2, the Prince George Journal sent out a press release declaring the University of Central Florida Knights national champions of college football by virtue of their 34-27 Peach Bowl victory over Auburn on Jan. 1.

Auburn had already beaten both Georgia and Alabama, who would go on to play in Monday’s NCAA Championship game, won by Alabama.

Meanwhile, Central Florida had gone 13-0 on the year but was left out of the four-team College Football Playoff due to the “quality of their schedule.” All of this was established before the Knights went out and beat the Auburn Tigers, staking a legitimate claim to the title.

“With an undefeated record and a win over a top-10 team in the Peach Bowl, we were left no other choice but to name them national champs,” Richard Ingram, president of Womack Publishing Company, said at the time. “It’s a testament to the work they put in, and the chance they were never given by the Bowl Selection Committee.”

Later that evening the release was picked up by UCF’s online student newspaper, Knight News, propelling the story to go viral. In just an hour, the post by Knight News had over 200 shares and 1,500 likes on Facebook.

The story of a small Virginia newspaper crowning an FBS national champion made appearances on Fox 35 Orlando, FM 96.7 The Game, and inside the Tampa Bay Times.

Shortly thereafter, the UCF Knights declared themselves national champions on Wikipedia, citing the Journal’s article as a source.

The school’s Athletic Director, Danny White, has been an outspoken critic of the current playoff system, and also declared his team national champions. Not only that, but White put his money where his mouth is, paying out hundreds of thousands of dollars to his coaching staff that the school was contractually obligated to pay if the team won a national championship.

Womack Publishing Company, the Journal, and Knight News then teamed up to create a 16-page, color special edition to commemorate the Knights’ incredible season, which was printed on Thursday, Jan. 4.

Womack Publishing Company’s Director of Operations, Chad Harrison, presented the team the newspaper and a special collector’s edition poster at a banquet on Monday evening in Orlando after the President of the University of Central Florida, John C. Hitt, personally invited him down.

“This journey actually started years ago,” Harrison told the Knights. “When Auburn went undefeated in 2004 (but were similarly left out of the national championship game), I remember their coach, Tommy Tuberville saying he wished some newspaper would name them national champions so they could claim it. We realized we had an opportunity to honor all of you as rightful national champions this season, as the only team to go undefeated in the FBS.”

Hundreds of the commemorative newspapers and posters have already been sold and more are available online at www.theprincegeorgejournal.com, or by calling (434) 432-1654, ext. 45.

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