What The College Football Playoff Committee Said About Its Rankings After Week One

Should the College Football Playoff Be Expanded? - Buckeye Wire

What The College Football Playoff Committee Said About Its Rankings After Week One

BuckeyeWire

What The College Football Playoff Committee Said About Its Rankings After Week One


The first set of College Football Playoff rankings are out and so are the comments from the Committee. Here’s the transcript of the first teleconference to discuss all the fun.


Contact/Follow Phil Harrison

So now all the fun begins. The first set of College Football Playoff Rankings have been debuted for 2018 and there’s already plenty of questions and observations.

To answer some of those, the CFP Committee held a teleconference. Here’s the complete transcript of what was discussed.

GINA LEHE: Welcome to the College Football Playoff
Selection Committee teleconference. Joining us
tonight is Bill Hancock, executive director of the
College Football Playoff, along with Rob Mullens,
College Football Playoff Selection Committee chair.
As a reminder to those on the call, we are transcribing
tonight’s call, which will be posted later on
collegepressbox.com. At this time we’d like to turn it
over to Rob for opening comments.

ROB MULLENS: Thanks, Gina. Good evening,
everyone. We’ve completed the first rankings of the
year for the College Football Playoff. As you’ve seen,
Alabama is ranked No. 1; Clemson, No. 2; LSU, No. 3;
and Notre Dame, No. 4. Just as a reminder, as a
committee we’re charged with one job, and that’s
ranking the 25 best teams in college football. To do
that, our rankings are based on how a team plays its
games. We look at their win-loss record, their strength
of schedule, their head-to-head match-ups, games
played against common opponents, and eventually,
we’ll look at who is a conference champion.
This process created by the commissioners is
subjective by design. The committee has 13 different
people on it, some of whom are athletic directors, some
are former coaches, players, and one is a former
journalist. Each is an expert in college football, and
that’s why they’re on the committee.
We start with a clean slate of paper each week,
meaning we go back to the beginning every time we
rank. We take a fresh look at all the teams, week in
and week out. Our conversations are robust. We
discuss in detail the various strengths and weaknesses
of the teams we rank. We’ll talk about their offenses,
their defenses, and the impact an injury can have. We
challenge ourselves to be sure that we get it right.
Let me say a word about a couple of topics. One
reason one-loss LSU is ranked No. 3 ahead of an
undefeated Notre Dame is because they’ve beaten six
teams with a winning record. Within the FBS, no other
team in the country has that many victories against
winning teams. They’ve played a strong schedule. By
comparison, Notre Dame has three such wins.
UCF is an excellent team, and as you know, they’re
undefeated. However, they’re the only team in the
country that has not played a game against a team that
currently has a winning record, and you saw that we
ranked UCF No. 12.
Three teams in our top 25 have three losses. The
committee looked deeply at the games these teams
have played and were impressed with their schedules.
For example, Texas A&M is a strong 5-3 team because
their losses were against No. 1 Alabama and No. 2
Clemson.
I do want to take a minute to thank the 12 other
committee members for the hard work they put in
getting ready for this meeting. They watch a lot of
games, take their duties very seriously. We’re
fortunate to have them on this committee.
I welcome any questions.
Q. Just want to congratulate you on your first
ranking as committee chair. I’m curious about
ranking Alabama No. 1, Clemson No. 2, despite the
fact that Clemson is the only team in the top 10 for
total offense and total defense, opponents for
Clemson 38-16 versus 29-28 for Alabama and the
fact that Clemson has the No. 1 differential in total
yards allowed versus total yards gained. Is it just
the common opponent with Texas A&M, even
though Alabama had them at home, Clemson was
on the road? Was that the primary reason that you
put Alabama ahead of them?
ROB MULLENS: Well, thanks for the question. You
know, it’s never just one thing. Obviously we look at
the data, then we watch a lot of games. Both of them
do have the common opponent Texas A&M, which are
quality wins for sure, but the committee felt when you
look at it, Alabama’s efficiency on offense was very
impressive. They’re strong on defensive, as well. So
data is one part of it, but the committee watches a lot
of games, and in the end, the committee felt that
Alabama was 1 after nine weeks.
Q. I want to ask you about Washington State and
how much was their non-conference strength of
schedule discussed?
ROB MULLENS: Well, obviously as you know, we look
at everybody’s full body of work, so when you pull up
any team’s resume and you compare them to others’
none conference schedule is a piece of that for sure.
But for Washington State we saw a dynamic offense
with a quarterback that’s had a real positive impact,
and then you see their quality win over Utah and the
tough road loss to USC, that’s why the committee put
them No. 8.
Q. You mentioned earlier that Notre Dame and only
the three wins with teams over .500 records, but
can you expand a little bit more about how the
committee viewed Notre Dame overall?
ROB MULLENS: Sure. I mean, obviously a quality
team, 8-0, impressive opening season win over
Michigan. The committee certainly has recognized
their improvement on offense over the last few weeks.
So overall very impressed with Notre Dame.
When you look at them against LSU, though, LSU is
the only team in the country with six wins against
teams above .500. That includes wins over No. 6
Georgia, a ranked Mississippi State team, and their
only loss is a road loss, close road loss at Florida.
Q. Like you said, UCF has got a pretty poor
strength of schedule overall, so I’d like to know
from your perspective why they’re No. 12. I mean,
that’s six spots higher than a year ago, and I think
at this point a year ago objectively you could say
they had a stronger strength of schedule, so what
do you like about the Knights to put them that
high?
ROB MULLENS: Well, again, data is one piece of it,
and as I mentioned, they’re the only team in the
country that’s not played a team that has a winning
record thus far. However, when you watch them play,
they have an experienced quarterback, a quality
offense, and that goes into that mix when you line it up.
It’s part of the data, including the strength of schedule,
but it is also part of what you see on the eye test.
Q. Quick question about that Washington
State/USC game that you referenced earlier. You
know all the background about what happened
with the conference officiating process. Did that
play a role at all in how you all evaluated that loss
for the Cougars?
ROB MULLENS: We watch the games, and the
committee knows what happens. But that was not part
of the discussion in the room, no.
Q. I was wondering how you guys viewed Ohio
State’s loss to Purdue.
ROB MULLENS: Again, we look at a whole body of
work, and when you look at Ohio State, they’ve had an
offense that’s carried them, quality road win against a
CFP-ranked Penn State. When you look at Ohio
State’s resume, when they played TCU, that was a
healthy TCU team on a neutral site in Texas. So that
does factor in. But obviously the loss at Purdue does
weigh as a part of that, and I think that’s why you see
Ohio State at No. 10.
Q. In years past, Oklahoma’s defense has become
a point of discussion in the committee room. Jeff
Long has referenced it multiple times. Was the
Oklahoma defense discussed at length in the
committee room the last couple of days?
ROB MULLENS: Again, when you look at a team’s
resume, you look at every piece of it. Obviously
Oklahoma has a dynamic quarterback and an
outstanding offense, but you look at the full resume.
So obviously you look at all three phases of the game,
and defense is a part of that.
Q. Your No. 2 and No. 4 teams both changed
quarterbacks during the season. How much of that
was a discussion in the room, and then did that
devalue the Irish win over No. 5 Michigan at all
because it was with a different quarterback?
ROB MULLENS: Absolutely not. It did not — that’s an
impressive win for Notre Dame no matter how you
stack it up, who was at quarterback. Oftentimes we do
talk about that. In this specific instance Clemson is 8-
0. That was not a part of that conversation. Their
resume speaks for itself.
It was noted in the Notre Dame conversation how their
offense has improved in the recent weeks.
Q. I wanted to ask you, there’s been a lot of public
debate obviously about UCF. What kind of debate
was there in the room about putting them at No. 12
or maybe perhaps ranking them even higher?
ROB MULLENS: Well, there’s a debate about every
team when you put them in there. You stack their
resume up, and you can see that the way it would work
for the committee, UCF would have been in that 10-to13
band, so that’s where they end up. You compare
them to all of those teams. There was a lengthy
discussion, obviously, given the strength of schedule
issue, but you balance that against what you see when
you watch the games. So lengthy discussion, as there
is about a lot of teams. But 7-0, quality quarterback,
good offense.
Q. Obviously there’s a lot of things that go into a
resume, but can you just maybe talk generally
when you’re looking at any team with a loss how
you evaluate maybe a close loss, a tight game
versus a game where a team didn’t compete as well
and lost by quite a bit?

ROB MULLENS: Yeah, you know, it’s hard — everybody
wants to narrow it down to one small piece, but really 
when you’re looking at a resume, you’re looking at all
the games, whether they’ve played seven or eight
games, you’re looking at every single game. We don’t
incent margin of victory, but we do watch the games
and understand how they play out, so that is a part of
the discussion.
Q. Just a follow-up, why wasn’t the officiating story
line talked about in the room?

ROB MULLENS: We just look at results in the end.
People watched the game, and we can’t project; we
just look at how the games ended up.
Q. How do you weigh a game like Ohio State
playing TCU earlier in the year where TCU was
ranked at that time but now they’ve lost more
games since then? Do you look more at where
they were ranked then, or do you look more at what
TCU’s resume is now?

ROB MULLENS: Well, we don’t look at rankings unless
they’re CFP rankings, but the committee is fully aware
that TCU was at full strength and how they were
playing when Ohio State went to Texas and played
them. So that was a part of the discussion.
Q. When you look at a loss, you might feel one way
about a loss when the initial rankings are put out.
How does the evolution of the way you view losses
change as the season progresses based on more
information and more results of games happening?

ROB MULLENS: Yep, you nailed it, more information.
That’s the beauty of this process. We start with a clean
slate every week, and we get a new set of results, and
that blank sheet of paper is very helpful for just that,
because things change throughout the year. Next
week when we come in, we’ll have a clean sheet of
paper with another week’s set of results.
Q. How would you weigh OU’s loss to Texas? For
instance, OU’s defense made improvements after
making the change in defensive coordinators, and
do evaluations change when there are mid-season
coordinator changes like that?

ROB MULLENS: Well, we evaluate results, and if there
are changes that change results, then that’s a factor.
We don’t look at changes and look back and say what
would have happened had this change occurred
earlier. The results are what they are. But when
changes occur, we look at what happens in the next
weeks after the changes are made.
Q. I see you guys have Michigan as the second
best one-loss team. Kind of speak to your overall
read on Michigan’s resume at this point.

ROB MULLENS: Michigan has a very strong resume.
Their only loss is to No. 4 ranked team on the road in
the first game of the year. Five wins against teams
with a winning record, strong road wins, Michigan
State, at Northwestern. Great on defense. Michigan is
a very good team.
Q. How did you weigh Kentucky’s quality of their
wins and their recent offensive struggles?

ROB MULLENS: Again, quality wins at Florida and
then a win over Mississippi State, both ranked teams,
and Kentucky has an outstanding defense. They’ve
found a way to win, and their only loss is to a CFP
ranked team in overtime. Kentucky has a quality
resume.
Q. Instead of talking about Clemson 1 versus 2,
what made them No. 2 and then put them ahead of
LSU that has such a strong strength of schedule?
What separated Clemson and LSU at 2 and 3?

ROB MULLENS: I think, again, when you look at it,
Clemson does have three wins over CFP-ranked
teams, one of them on the road. You look at Clemson,
impressive team on both sides of the ball, really strong
defense, and they’re 8-0.

GINA LEHE: We’d like to thank everyone for their
participation tonight. That includes our teleconference.

 

Contact/Follow us @BuckeyeWire on Twitter, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Ohio State news, notes, and opinion.

Latest

More BuckeyeWire
Home