A group of Florida lawmakers, including one pursing a specialty license plate for his own alma mater, want the state’s motor vehicle agency to be the latest to proclaim the University of Central Florida undefeated Knights as college football’s “national champion.”
State Reps. James Grant, R-Tampa, Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, Amber Mariano, R-Hudson, and Chris Latvala, R-Clearwater, are pushing a proposal (HB 1359) that would add “UCF National Champions” license plate to the more than 130 specialty tags already available from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
“A UCF license plate is the perfect way to commemorate our undefeated Knights for achieving this historic milestone,” Guillermo Smith said in a press release.
Guillermo Smith, Latvala and Mariano are UCF alumni.
“We can argue statistics and strength of schedules, but you can’t argue a perfect, undefeated season,” Mariano said in the release. “We are the true College Football National Champions, and our season made a big statement to the CFP that their current system is not working. I am so proud to be an Alumna from the best University in the world! Go Knights and Charge on!”
The measure would also revamp the specialty license program, an annual exercise in the state Legislature, by capping the number of different designs available at one time to 125 and to boost the required number of pre-order plates from 1,000 to 3,000 for a new tag to be allowed on the road.
The proposal also would make an Auburn University license plate — along with tags for Florida Lineman, Florida State Beekeepers Association, Rotary, Beat Childhood Cancer, Florida Bay Forever and Bonefish and Tarpon Trust — available for pre-order.
Grant, who along with Tallahassee public-relations guru Kevin Cate, have been working to get Florida to offer the Auburn University plate.
“Nobody wanted Auburn to beat UCF more than me,” Grant, an Auburn University grad, said in the press release. “However, UCF beat the team who beat the team also claiming to be national champions — Alabama — a team with a long history of making up national championships.”
Cate’s CateComm and Sean Hartman of Orlando designed the pseudo national champion plate.
Gov. Rick Scott on Jan. 8 signed a proclamation declaring UCF national champions following their 34-27 victory over Auburn in the Peach Bowl.
As with Scott’s proclamation, those pitching the Knights as national camps point to Auburn having defeated the Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide. Alabama topped Georgia to conclude the NCAA’s four-team playoff invitational.
UCF finished sixth in the Associated Press’s final poll of the season.
— By Jim Turner.