It sounds like a tease for the latest ESPN 30-for-30 documentary:
“What if I told you, that in a single season, two teams would change the direction of an entire sport? That along the way, dynasty’s died, and committees crumbled.”
Now what if I told you, the main subjects in this documentary, were the 2017-2018 UCF Knights and Jacksonville Jaguars?
Yes, it’s been an odd football season around the state of Florida. One marred by coaching changes, ravaged by hurricanes, and yet full of celebrations.
The Knights story is already well documented, and with the incessant celebration that has ensued following their perfect-season-clinching victory over Auburn in the Peach Bowl on New Year’s Day, it appears as if the program has reached new heights of national recognition. Of course this is in direct contrast from what an entire 13-member committee spent their season doing, essentially telling the Knights they weren’t tall enough to ride their ride, and eventually crowning an old, familiar face, the Alabama Crimson Tide, the National Champions.
Unfortunately, the NFL doesn’t have the “luxury” of shaping the outcome of their seasons in quite the same manner the College Football Playoff Committee does, and the opportunity for Jacksonville to rightfully earn their own respect gets under way at 3:05PM ET on Sunday.
Insert the old head, the New England Patriots. The last line of defense for any true dynasty-wielding die-hard who happens to like seeing the same teams win time and time again. The defending Super Bowl Champions bring seven consecutive years of experience to the Conference Championship game. The Jaguars? They bring six games. Combined. Across a 53-man roster.
But it’s the makeup of that 53-man roster that should have Floridians across the state intrigued. Since selecting former UCF quarterback, Blake Bortles, 3rd overall in the 2014 NFL Draft, Jaguars General Manager, David Caldwell, spent top-5 overall picks in 2015, 2016, and 2017 on highly coveted collegiate talent from area schools (Defensive End, Dante Fowler Jr. (Florida), Cornerback, Jalen Ramsey (Florida State), and Running Back, Leonard Fournette (LSU)). Those selections created a core of young, recognizable talent on both sides of the football.
Overall, nine position players who will take the field on Sunday for Jacksonville are either born in, or attended college in Florida. Bortles is joined by fellow UCF Knight, A.J. Bouye, whose cornerback role in the vaunted “Sacksonville” defense has proved pivotal all season.
So for as odd of a football season as it has seemingly been, the state of Florida will be given the opportunity to once again stand up to the football elitist.
Sunday is the NFL’s version of UCF-Alabama. An over-achieved young team who has earned its right on the playing field to face the elite. The New England Patriots, are all things Alabama.
This time there is no committee. This time the only coaching rumors are surrounding the opposition. This time, the respect will be earned on the field.
A win by the Jaguars on Sunday, would be the first appearance by a Florida team in the Super Bowl since 2003, when the Tampa Bay Bucs defeated the Oakland Raiders.