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Central Florida athletic director Danny White tweeted that the football team’s coaches will be paid national championship bonuses after finishing the season 13–0.
Time_Sports

Kevin Lytle is a sports reporter for the Coloradoan, and this column may contain opinions from his perspective.

The big question would be: Where do we put the banner?

It would be large, so draped on the side of the massive scoreboard at the CSU stadium is probably the right place.

A national championship shouldn’t be hidden, of course. 

The celebration would happen before the first Colorado State University home football game this fall, with the voice from the loudspeakers blaring “ladies and gentlemen, please stand to celebrate your 1915 national champions!”

Oh did you miss that? CSU is now home to a national championship football team. Why? Why the heck not, it’s a tradition in the sport.

College football has a dubious history of naming national champions and rarely seems to get it totally right.

It’s become a tradition for schools to claim titles that may or may not remotely belong to them. Central Florida is the latest to do so, with the Knights proclaiming themselves 2017 champions after going an undefeated 13-0.

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They’re even hosting a parade, raising a banner and giving their coaches bonuses for an unofficial “national championship.” Hey, why not? We’ll never know what could’ve been since UCF was left out of the four-team playoff.

Claiming titles has led to a lot of anger from some and laughter from others. SB Nation took the time to look up what other teams should claim national titles.

And guess what? CSU makes the list.

Of course, they weren’t the Rams and the school wasn’t CSU back in 1915. It was still the Colorado A&M Aggies, and it was the fifth year under coach Harry Hughes.

The Aggies shut out three opponents and allowed only 4.4 points per game in 1915 as they went 7-0 for the only season in school history without a tie or loss (the 1916 team went 6-0-1).

The 1915 season got off to a rocky start. Quarterback and captain Creighton Moore didn’t respond to a summer letter from Hughes asking if he would be returning for the season. Moore showed up, but was benched most of the year, according to “From Aggies to Rams: The History of Football at Colorado State University,” by John Hirn.

Colorado Field on the Colorado A&M campus debuted a scoreboard that season, which was donated by Fort Collins businesses.

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The Aggies dominated all season, using what was called the “Million Dollar Play,” a sort of triple reverse designed to fool defenses. It always seemed to work.

The season peaked with a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championship game in Colorado Springs against Colorado College. The Aggies rolled to a 24-13 win on a cold day in front of about 5,000 fans, and busloads of Aggie fans partied in celebration after the game.

According to “Aggies to Rams,” Hughes was well ahead of his time and tried to set up a virtual bowl game. He called Oregon. He called Notre Dame. He called Syracuse and Nebraska. None would agree to play Colorado A&M in a postseason game. Ultimately the Aggies faced Denver, with a parade of more than 3,000 people going down College Avenue and into Colorado Field where the Aggies rolled past DU 33-3 to finish perfect.

But national champions? The NCAA officially designates Cornell as the champions for 1915. Pittsburgh also claims a title from that year.

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Sports Reference uses what it calls the Simple Rating System to rank teams. It uses margin of victory and strength of schedule to calculate a ranking.

Colorado A&M’s score for 1915 is sixth, one ahead of national champion Cornell and two ahead of claimed champion Pitt. Nebraska is the only team ranked ahead of the Aggies that didn’t have a loss or a tie.

Colorado A&M beat Colorado, Utah, Utah State, Colorado Mines, Wyoming, Colorado College and Denver that season. Nebraska played schools like Washburn and Nebraska-Wesleyan in addition to teams like Notre Dame, Iowa State and Kansas.

Cornell played powerhouses like Gettysburg, Oberlin, Williams and Washington and Lee.

How do you compare strength of schedule from more than 100 years ago? No idea. 

Recently a football researcher named David Wilson of Wisconsin retroactively ranked teams in a fashion similar to the BCS system and it calculated the Aggies should have been national champions in 1915.

So, let’s raise the banner.

Follow sports reporter Kevin Lytle at twitter.com/Kevin_Lytle and at facebook.com/KevinSLytle.

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