Alabama's fire only fuels UCF's national champion campaign

When a kid cuts up in order to get attention, the best strategy is to ignore him or her.

Apparently, they don’t teach child psychology at the University of Alabama.

If they did, Crimson Tide running back Damien Harris would have been told to stay away from Twitter on Sunday.

Harris saw video of UCF being honored at the Pro Bowl. Knights players were on the field at Camping World Stadium, whooping it up in the rain and wearing black “National Champions” shirts.

“These pictures are live! Where can i find one with y’all holding the trophy?” he tweeted.

It was a good line, but it played right into UCF’s hands. Like our Twitterer-in-Chief, the Knights are learning to manipulate the news through keystrokes.

The news they want to keep hammering is they deserve national champion recognition and the College Football Playoff is biased.

Subext: ‘Bama can stick its CFP trophy.

UCF’s problem was that its 15 minutes of fame and attention was just about up. The Knights had a parade, put a billboard in Tuscaloosa, trolled the internet and declared themselves the exiled rulers of college football.

It was justifiable and fun at first, then it got a little annoying. At least that’s what I figured.

Then Mark Wahlberg posted a video last week congratulating UCF on being “co-national champs.”

Not every program gets a shout-out from the world’s highest-paid actor.

The NFL also gave UCF quite a stage Sunday, though it took pains not to mention “national championship” in the intro.

Don’t want Nick Saban sending all his players to the XFL, you know.

Yeah, Wahlberg was primarily plugging the two Wahlburgers in town. And the NFL was looking to score points with the host city.

Ulterior motives or not, UCF would take the love.

Coach Josh Heupel had already said Sunday would be the last 13-0 celebration. It was time to move on.

Then along came Harris.

“i been silent for too long lol,” he tweeted.

In a Twitter retort, UCF punter Mac Loudermilk noted UCF racked up three trophies (conference, divisional and in-state rivalry) last year that Alabama failed at.

Websites began reporting on the brewing internet feud. The SEC Network cracked on the Knights. UCF tweeted a video of a “State of Alabama” truck dumping salt.

More players got involved. Fans jumped back in, rationally noting that the other school is populated by inbred devil worshippers.

Intentional or not, college football’s 2017-18 national championship controversy was trending again.

The College Football Playoff desperately needs to expand to an eight-team tournament. I doubt the Knights could have beaten Clemson and Georgia, but they certainly earned the right to try.

As the outsider, UCF has to engage in guerrilla warfare against the entrenched powers. In that battle, any debate, any compliment, insult, like, mention or tweet is a good one for the Knights.

They should do anything to keep people debating the CFP. Get Scott Frost to bring it up at every barn-raising in Nebraska. Hijack the SEC Network and show replays of UCF’s 40-38 win over Alabama in 2000.

Require all 64,000 UCF students to eat at least once a week at Wahlburgers. That would be worth a few more videos.

In a dream world, it would drive Saban to fire back on Twitter, assuming he knows what Twitter is.

Either way, I’m reminded of another moment in Alabama history.

Auburn won their 1972 showdown 17-16 when it blocked two punts and ran them back for touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

That spawned the cry “Punt, Bama, Punt!”

UCF should point out that it did not blow a 16-point lead to Auburn in the Peach Bowl.

The Crimson Tide would be wise to ignore it, but CFP critics will be counting on something else.

Tweet, Bama, Tweet!

dwhitley@orlandosentinel.com

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