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SALT LAKE CITY — As Utah football prepares for its season-opener Thursday, fans are reminded of the 10-year anniversary season of its Sugar Bowl win.
It’s a game that capped off an undefeated season and a bowl victory over SEC favorite Alabama, and is the closest the Utes have gotten to the elusive Crystal Football Trophy.
The NCAA recently released its 2018 football records book, and Utah was awarded a “national poll championship” for its 2008 season (page 115). Of course, Florida was the consensus poll and actual champion after defeating Oklahoma 24-21 in the BCS National Championship game, but one “major selector” — Anderson/Hester — had the Utes ranked higher at the end of the season.
Anderson/Hester, created by Jeff Anderson and Chris Hester of The Seattle Times, has been mathematically ranking college football teams since 1997, and it just so happens their model had the Utes as the best team at the very end. Anderson/Hester is offically recognized by the NCAA as a “major selector” and one that helped shape the former BCS era.
Previous NCAA record books (see the 2017 records book, page 115) failed to include other major selectors in its championship section, instead only listing the consensus pick. But following a UCF national championship push for their 13-0 season and 34-27 win over Auburn, the NCAA chose to include other poll national champions in its list — major selector Colley had UCF ranked higher than Alabama at the end of the season.
The NCAA describes the added champions as such: “From 1998-2013, the BCS was used to determine national champions in FBS. All ‘major selectors’ not otherwise listed also selected the BCS champion as its highest ranked team in those seasons. In years where a ‘major selector’ had a team other than the BCS champion as highest ranked team in its final poll that team is listed below the BCS Champion.”
So congrats, Utah. Hang that banner. Celebrate the 10-year anniversary of your “national poll championship.” And add “national poll champion” to Kyle Whittingham’s resume, as if it needs more padding.