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UCF national champs? Some lawmakers say, no way

Gray Rohrer
Contact ReporterTallahassee Bureau

TALLAHASSEE — The prospect of a specialty license plate honoring UCF as 2017 college football national champions ignited a squabble among lawmakers Tuesday, as some rejected the claim as “not based in reality.”

Rep. Evan Jenne, D-Dania Beach, introduced an amendment to HB 1359, which would have replaced “2017 National Champions” on the proposed plate with “2017 Undefeated Season.”

When asked if his amendment was “friendly,” which means acceptable to the bill sponsor in legislative parlance, he said it was “friendly to reality.”

Jenne eventually withdrew the amendment, but not before a debate erupted in which the College Football Playoff system was slammed and Florida’s “integrity as a state” was questioned. Jenne warned he would bring his change up again if the bill gets to the House floor.

Rep. Mike LaRosa, R-Kissimmee, defended UCF’s claim.

“Clearly there is a flawed system determining the NCAA football champions,” he said.

And Rep. Amber Mariano, R-Hudson, a recent UCF graduate, pointed out that Gov. Rick Scott has already issued a proclamation declaring UCF the national champion.

“I want to buy one, so please vote down on this amendment,” she said.

But Rep. Brad Drake, R-Eucheeanna, compared the plate with a hypothetical proposal to declare Hillary Clinton the president just because she won the popular vote.

“We need to protect the integrity of our state,” said Drake, whose Panhandle district abuts Alabama, home of the playoff champion Crimson Tide. “What we’re actually doing is we are memorializing and validating that we, the state of Florida, do hereby accept and declare something that is not true.”

Rep. Randy Fine, R-Brevard County, said the state shouldn’t contradict the declared champion just because the playoff system is flawed.

“You’ve got folks who live in the world the way they wish it was, not the way that it is,” he said.

grohrer@orlandosentinel.com or (850) 222-5564

UCF championship specialty license bill filed in Legislature »

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