As expected, the four teams to make the College Football Playoff are Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Oklahoma. Interestingly, Alabama, Clemson and Oklahoma all made the playoff in 2015, and the Tigers beat Notre Dame in Death Valley that season in the famous hurricane game. The Tigers were undefeated entering the playoff that year as well. This will be Notre Dame's first College Football Playoff appearance and the fourth consecutive appearance for the Tigers, who are 2-1 all-time against the Irish. It is the Tigers' first trip to the Cotton Bowl since 1940. The Tigers would have likely been headed back to Miami for another Orange Bowl, which has been a second home for them over the years, but the Selection Committee didn't want to give Oklahoma a virtual home game in the Cotton Bowl. So even though Arlington is closer to both Tuscaloosa and Norman, and Clemson is closer to Miami, the Tigers and their fans will have to go to Arlington.
At the end of our Cotton Bowl conference call with the two head coaches, Brian Kelly humorously said to Dabo, "Leave me some recruits down there, would you, Dabo?" I asked them both for their recollections of that epic game in 2015 with ESPN College Gameday in town during the hurricane, and it was good to hear them relive it briefly. Kelly said what stood out to him the most about that meeting was the collegiate environment and traditions at Clemson because it was his first time to Tiger Town and Death Valley.
The audio and transcript from the conference call are below, followed by our teleconference with CFP Selection Committee Chair Rob Mullens. Keep it right here over the next month for all your Clemson playoff coverage!
COTTON BOWL TELECONFERENCE AUDIO:
CHARLIE FISS: Thank you, JP. And good afternoon, everyone.
Those participating on today's teleconference are, from the University of Notre Dame, Head Coach Brian Kelly and, from Clemson University, Head Coach Dabo Swinney.
A quick matchup note on this game: This is Notre Dame's first visit to the College Football Playoff semifinal. And from a Goodyear Cotton Bowl perspective, this will be the first appearance in the classic in 25 years for the Fighting Irish, dating back to the 1994 game. For Clemson, this marks the fourth consecutive year for the Tigers to play in a College Football Playoff Semifinal. And it's been 79 years since Clemson last played in our game, going all the way back to 1940.
Let's begin our teleconference with Notre Dame and turn to Coach Kelly first.
Coach, congratulations to you and the Fighting Irish for earning a berth into the College Football Playoff Semifinal here at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. And now you begin putting the wheels in motion to head to North Texas.
KELLY: Well, certainly on behalf of our president, Father Jenkins, our athletic director, Jack Swarbrick, and our entire staff and football team, we're so excited to be part of the Goodyear Cotton Bowl and the College Football Playoffs.
I just would begin by saying congratulations to Coach Swinney and the Clemson football program. They've been a model of consistency. We'll have a great challenge but one that we're excited about. We've been on a journey here the last couple years to put our football team back in this position. So we're certainly excited for the challenge that's in front of us.
We know very well about the Cotton Bowl and its great history and tradition, and we're excited about being part of this and look forward to a great week in the greater Dallas metro area.
CHARLIE FISS: Thank you, Coach Kelly. Appreciate that.
Now, we'll go to Coach Swinney.
Coach, I would like to extend our congratulations to you as well and the Tigers for winning last night's ACC championship game. And we ask for your thoughts as the team now turns its attention toward the Playoff Semifinal.
DABO: Thank you. On behalf of our Athletic Director, Dan Radakovich, President Clements, it's an honor for us to be a part of this. Me personally, I'm super excited to come to the Cotton Bowl. I've been in college football for a long time, and I've never had the opportunity to experience the Cotton Bowl, but know a lot of people who had and said what a great experience it is. And just to be a part of this Playoff, the players work so hard to achieve something. So we're thrilled to be in the final four.
And all these teams are amazing. To play one of the undefeateds in Notre Dame, one of the best programs in college football history, it's a special opportunity. And I know it will be a great week for both teams, an incredible challenge, but I know one that both teams will be excited about. I don't have any doubt it will be an unbelievable game. So looking forward to spending some time in Dallas and meeting everyone there. We just appreciate all the hospitality and all the hard work that goes into making it such a great event for our players.
CHARLIE FISS: Thank you, Coach Swinney. We look forward to having you with us here in just a few weeks. Coach Kelly as well.
Let's turn things back over to the operator, who will poll the media now for questions for the remainder of the teleconference, which will be about 15 minutes.
For both coaches, Dabo, first of all, I realize you have rookie players, freshman players, and even a freshman quarterback. You've had several years to go through this and some veterans on the team. How much of an advantage is that, that these guys have prepared for this stage before?
DABO: Well, I think the experience is not a negative. It's definitely a positive when you have some guys that they have an understanding of the pace and can maybe bring up some of the younger players. At the end of the day, you've got to create on that and you've got to play well. These are four great teams that are left in this thing. And Coach Kelly and the job he's done at Notre Dame this year and this team, they've had a special season.
So experience is great, for sure, but you got to play well. What it all comes down to is four quarters of good football. I do love our team. I think we've got a bunch of veterans that have a good visual of how they got to prepare and get themselves ready.
And then, you know, we got those young guys, like you said, a freshman quarterback and some other young players on this team that, hopefully, will kind of jump in line and follow the lead of these veterans that we do have as far as how we go through our preparation process.
Brian, do you think it is somewhat of an advantage for Clemson having guys that have been on this stage for several years before?
KELLY: I do. I think it's important that they've been in those kinds of games and that venue. I don't think there's any substitute for that. What follows is the hype and the distractions that are easy to happen unless you've experienced it.
You know, we're fortunate in that we play all over the country, from the L.A. Coliseum to Yankee Stadium. Obviously, our football team has experienced that just by its travel and being all over the country. So, in a smaller degree, we have to deal with it week in and week out. But there's definitely an advantage when you've been in this before. And I think, you know, Coach understands that, at the end of the day, that certainly is a piece of it, but you got to go out and you got to perform and you got to execute. So I would agree with him on that.
Coach Swinney, congratulations on winning last night.
DABO: Thank you.
I know it's a business trip going to Dallas. What are you looking forward to in Dallas for your first time there?
DABO: Well, just, first of all, that stadium. What a great venue. I've never been there. I've obviously seen it on TV. So I'm looking forward to playing a game in such an incredible environment and spending some extended time in Dallas.
When I've been to Dallas, it's been kind of in and out. But just all the things I've heard about the Cotton Bowl in general, the hospitality and the wonderful committee folks that they have there.
But just having a chance to compete against a great team and again on a great stage and representing Clemson the very best we can. That's what I'm looking forward to, and seeing our players just continue to enjoy their journey.
Coach Kelly, what are you looking forward to for your trip to Texas?
KELLY: I would agree. Look, what happens when you're involved in this, you get another chance to be with your guys. I mean, that's why we coach. We do more than just stand on the sideline. It's an investment that we have with our team and the relationships that we build with our guys that we get one more chance to be with them.
So just getting that opportunity to prepare and see them through their process for hopefully a couple more games, and then to be in a great venue like AT&T Stadium. It's a great environment.
We played there a few years back, one of our Shamrock Series games against Arizona State, and you just got to catch yourself from looking up at the scoreboard all the time. It's just a great environment.
Brian, you mentioned earlier how this is different prep because it's not like a true bowl game, because you could still play another game after this. But what do you maybe take from that 2012 experience when you were getting ready for a championship-level game, how you guys did in 2012 against Alabama? Do you take anything from that experience?
KELLY: Well, I mean, you know, as a coach, you do. We built our program off of the experience of 2012, in that we had to do some things differently in terms of development and recruitment. So that's been in a process over the last few years. And the moment is really big playing in a championship game. So preparing your guys mentally for that kind of environment. They've got to get into a good place emotionally for that game. So you take some things from it.
I'm sure Dabo would agree, when you play in that game, you learn some things, and you use that as you prepare for the next one.
Dabo, what are the things you might have learned in the last four years of going to the Playoff and being through this process before?
DABO: There's a lot of distractions. There's a lot of things that come with being a part of this, a lot of things that you have to manage that aren't in kind of a normal game. But, at the end of the day in championship football, you're playing teams where there's just such small margin for error; it's a few plays. It just comes down to a few plays that make the difference. So, you know, you've got to have unbelievable precision with what you do to have a chance to be successful.
And then you got to handle the adversity. I mean, you're – this is going to be, like I said, a few plays. And so there's going to be a lot of adversity. You just got to – you just got to hang in there and keep playing and believe that you can get it done down the stretch. But it's awesome to be a part of it. You try to just not make it a huge, bigger moment than what it is, try to minimize the distraction. And just the same things that have won will win this game. Just don't have the room for error that sometimes the four teams that are in this might have had in some other games.
Obviously, it was an epic game three years ago in Death Valley between your two teams. I'd just like to get your recollections of that game. Obviously, a lot of players from those teams are gone, but I know Clemson has several guys in that senior class that remember it well. And just curious how much each of you think that your guys – those who are – who were in that game are looking forward to this rematch.
DABO: For me, it was an unbelievable game. I'll never forget that game. Just like I said earlier, just a minute ago, it was just a few plays. I mean, two, three plays that, you know, that went our way. But it was an amazing game. Both teams truly left it all on the field. We played in a hurricane, literally a hurricane. It was just horrible conditions to try to – but we both tried to do what we had to do to win the game, and it just came down to a couple of plays.
They were an amazing opponent. And I think, you know, both teams walked away from the game with great respect for each other. And we were very fortunate to win the game. But it was definitely one of those moments that I think everybody – you know, one of those things that makes college football so great is people watching that game, because you just saw two teams that wouldn't quit all the way down the stretch.
KELLY: Yeah, I would agree. I think what I took away from it is just a great collegiate environment. I had never been to Clemson. We've been to so many different venues, but to never be on their campus and to just see the tailgating and the pregame and the team run out, I mean, there's a lot of traditions at Notre Dame, but I had never seen the traditions at Clemson. And it was just such a collegiate atmosphere. And it was loud, and it was one of the louder environments that we had played in. And to watch those kids battle, it was – you know, it was one of those games you remember because it was college football at its best.
And they battled through all the elements as well. And, again, it will be similar, right? It will come down to a couple of plays. And, in every great college game, somebody has got to make a play, and Clemson made a couple more plays in that game. But great collegiate environment.
Dabo, have you checked on Tim Bourret to make sure he's okay after this matchup was announced?
DABO (laughing): He already texted me three times.
I figured as much. Secondly, I wanted to ask, both of you guys made a decision midseason to make a change at quarterback from veteran guys who had won a lot of games for you last year. I'm wondering how difficult that decision was for you, and how much were those decisions made partially with an eye towards this part of the season, where you wanted your team to be at a certain level for these types of games.
KELLY: Well, certainly, when you make a decision that's that difficult, you're doing it not just at the quarterback position but for your entire program. And Brandon Wimbush, he won 11 games for us. So it's never easy when you're pulling a guy out and he was undefeated at the time.
But we were looking at the long term. We were looking at how many plays our defense was on the field. We were looking at November. So, absolutely, there was the vision of how can we get to the College Football Playoffs. So all of those had to be part of the decision-making process. It couldn't be how could we just score more points? It was how could we find ourselves as a better football team in November?
And so those aren't decisions that are made by the quarterback coach; those come to the head coach. And they're difficult decisions because they affect people. And that was hard on Brandon Wimbush, and it was difficult because I love him. But it was the right decision to make.
DABO: Yeah, it is tough. And same thing, Kelly took us to the Sugar Bowl and to the Playoff and 12 wins. But when we came in the spring and Trevor [Lawrence] was here in January, as I say every year, you start over every year. You don't – you have to earn it every year. So we had a quarterback competition. And I was very up-front with that in the spring. They competed all the way. And Kelly [Bryant] came out of camp ahead, but it was close enough to where we said, look, we're going to play them right out of the gate. We're going to play both guys, and we're going to see if it settles on the field.
And I didn't know how it was going to turn out, but after four games, after that Georgia Tech game, it was obvious that Trevor was the better player. And it's hard, but that's our job. At the end of the day, it's to position our team to have the best possible chance to win.
And I just felt like that, you know, where we were after – we had a competition, and, after four games, he pulled ahead. And I didn't anticipate that Kelly would leave, but that was the decision he made. So we had to move forward.
But Trevor has done an amazing job. We've scored more touchdowns than ever in school history, and he's been a big reason for that. So all we can do is play the best player. And sometimes that's tough because you have personal feelings for a lot of these guys as individuals, and they all work so hard. But, at the end of the day, you got to do what's best for the team.
Dabo, first of all, I know you obviously don't need any vindication as far as Trevor Lawrence's performance. But Jesse Palmer from ESPN said earlier today that you guys getting to the Playoff with a true freshman at quarterback was one of the greatest stories of his 12 years covering football at ESPN. He said he went through the experience himself, and he knows how tough it is. Just your reaction to hearing that kind of response to Trevor's performance.
DABO: That's why we recruited him. We knew he was a great talent coming in, but you never know until you start coaching a guy how they're going to process things, how's their transition going to be. And it was pretty clear in the spring that this guy is going to be special. But, again, you got to see it on game day. And I'm really proud of him. He's an amazing talent. He's a very humble young man. He's an excellent leader. He really prepares like a veteran. And I think that's given him the opportunity to be successful because he's not just talented physically; he's mentally talented. So I'm really proud of him.
And then we've got good people around him. You know? He's not had to – it's not like he's got to do everything himself. He trusts his teammates. Our offensive line has done a great job for him. We've got great skill. And we've been able to support him with a good run game and a defense.
So it's been a complete team effort, but Trevor has certainly done his part and gone above and beyond, being the rookie of the year and so forth. He's as good as I've ever coached, that's for sure.
Coach Kelly, you've got a guy that's made a great impact on your program in his three years: Troy Pride, from roughly about 40 miles down the road from Clemson. If you could maybe just tell me a little bit about what he's meant to the program. We all know about his great speed and athleticism, and it always seems like he's got a good head on his shoulders as well.
KELLY: Yeah, it's been a process of development from, you know, a young man that really had great raw traits and has developed them to be a top-notch cornerback. You know? It's one thing to run, as we all know, but to play the cornerback position, to play out there one on one, you've got to develop a short memory, obviously, the ability to certainly tackle and play the ball in the air. A lot of credit to him in his physical development in the weight room.
He's just a great kid and one that our guys really cheer for. I mean, his physical development and his ability to play both sports. He's obviously somebody that runs track for us as well.
But I think this is a classic case of, you know, just making sure that you take the time to develop your players. And he's developed in our program to the point where now we feel like we've got two really good corners with him and Julian Love, who is a finalist for the Thorpe.
CHARLIE FISS: I think our teleconference has pretty well come to an end. We are out of time. We will now say goodbye to our head coaches and let them hang up. We appreciate you being with us today, and we look forward to welcoming your teams to North Texas in just a few short weeks. We can't wait. Thank you to both coaches.
CFP SELECTION COMMITTEE CHAIR ROB MULLENS AUDIO:
Good afternoon, everyone. The committee spent Friday night and all day Saturday watching the conference championship games together. At 11:00 last night, the committee met to rank the 25 teams in college football. As you know, the committee ranked Alabama No. 1, Clemson No. 2, Notre Dame No. 3 and Oklahoma No. 4.
Let me take you inside the room. There was little debate about Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame. There was a lot of debate about Oklahoma, Georgia and Ohio State. The debate was deep, detailed, and occasionally contentious. There was division.
I can report to you that different people in the room made a case for a variety of different outcomes. I don't think we left any combination off the field.
Some committee members believed Georgia should be No. 4, some believed Ohio State should be No. 4. Some believed Ohio State should be No. 5. Boy, did we debate it. As we considered three teams for the No. 4 slot, the committee did not believe that any one team was unequivocally better than the next. That meant we went to our protocol.
The protocol are guidelines given to the committee by the commissioners when they created the playoff. It's our rules of the road. It includes a variety of factors that we use to judge teams. No one factor is more important than another, and this year, the difference among 4, 5 and 6 was very close.
Oklahoma was ranked No. 4 because they're a one-loss conference champion with a dynamic offense, and their one loss was a close game to a ranked team at a neutral site. Georgia was ranked No. 5 because of their wins against highly ranked teams, their impressive performance against Alabama in the conference championship game, and because of how balanced a team they are.
Ohio State was ranked No. 6 because they're a one-loss conference champion with a big win over Michigan. The committee ranked them behind Georgia because the committee thinks highly of Georgia's body of work. We also think highly of Ohio State's body of work, but at times they have been inconsistent. We noted their only loss was to an unranked team.
The committee also determined the pairings for the Peach and Fiesta Bowls. The pairings are based on what we view as the best match-up for our highest ranked teams, while also taking into account a desire to avoid repeat appearances by the same teams at the same bowls.
The Peach Bowl on No. 29th will feature No. 7 Michigan against No. 10 Florida. On New Year's Day we will have three bowl games. The Fiesta Bowl will feature No. 8 UCF and No. 11 LSU. The Rose Bowl Game will be between No. 9 Washington and No. 6 Ohio State, and the Sugar Bowl will include No. 15 Texas against No. 5 Georgia.
It's an honor for me to be the chairman of this group. I've been around a lot of people in college football, and I've got to say, this group is special. Committee members prepare hard. They work hard, and they take their jobs seriously. They're here because they love this game and want to give something back. I'm grateful to every one of them.
Herb Deromedi, Jeff Bower and Bobby Johnson are our most recent graduates, and I want to particularly thank them for their efforts. It's been an honor working alongside of them. Thank you to all of you, as well, for your dedication and interest in our game. I'm happy to take your questions.
Given that conference championships are a stated criterion, is there any consideration to the idea of once again having two teams from the same conference and freezing out a conference champion from elsewhere?
Our task is simple: Rank the best teams, and as you talked specifically about the semifinals, it's to rank the four best teams, and that's what we go about doing. We don't discuss conference. Conference affiliation is not a part of it. It is simply about ranking the four best teams.
You mentioned that there was little debate between Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame and a lot of debate between 4, 5 and 6. Why was that as it relates to Notre Dame, especially given the fact that the teams behind it had played in a conference championship game?
Well, I mean, Notre Dame was part of that discussion for a small piece, but there was rigorous debate around 4, 5 and 6. When you look at the protocol, and obviously we put Notre Dame on the board, 12-0, impressive resume, wins against a ranked Michigan, Northwestern and Syracuse, the committee felt they deserved the No. 3 slot. And then we went about really finding who that fourth team was going to be.
Sure. You know, this is my third year on the committee. We make sure we want to get this right, so there's a lot of debates. I would say – maybe it's just because of recency, but it was as intense as any that I can recall. We were in the room roughly 11:00 last night. We didn't leave the room until 1:30. We were back at it early this morning. A significant portion of last night's was about those four teams, and again, there was a difference of opinion. So there was – each combination was represented, and we vetted it very thoroughly.
Decided to sleep on it, very little sleep on it, come back in the morning, and we reengaged in some of the same debate after people had a chance to reflect and think. But again, the first order of business was to determine if we thought one of those teams was unequivocally better, and there were some in the room who thought that one or others were unequivocally better. But at the end of the day, the committee voted that they weren't unequivocally better, therefore we went to the protocol.
What do you say to the players of UCF who finished unbeaten again, have won 25 straight and aren't getting a sniff of the playoffs?
I'd say congratulations on a great season, congratulations on a conference championship. Impressive second half against Memphis. Obviously we spent some time talking about UCF. Again, another great year, a great opportunity to play an LSU team in the Fiesta Bowl, but in the committee's eyes, the strength of schedule just didn't hold up when you look at that peer group of 7 and 8.
A conference championship mattered enough to Oklahoma to rank them ahead of Georgia, but it didn't matter enough to Ohio State to rank them ahead of Georgia, so can you try and provide a little bit more clarity as to just what is the value of a conference championship game in this system?
Well, again, once we determined that – as we were talking about those three teams being Oklahoma, Georgia and Ohio State, once we determined no one was unequivocally better, we go to the protocol, and the protocol has several factors, and conference championship is one of them. It's very important. When you look at the history of the playoffs, look at the number of conference champions that are in the playoff. It's a large percentage, so it carries plenty of weight. But there's other factors, strength of schedule, et cetera, and as we went on in this debate, that conference championship was a key piece for Oklahoma, and it did make a bit of a difference, but those teams were so tightly together, in the end the committee thought that that put Oklahoma at 4, Georgia at 5, given their strength of schedule with only a loss to a No. 1 team and I think ultimately our No. 11 team. Their body of work was pretty strong. And then Ohio State's inconsistencies, as I mentioned in my opening statement, put them at 6.
When you have Frank Beamer and Joe Castiglione who both have to recuse themselves for Oklahoma discussions, during a contentious debate between three teams, are they in the room for that, or when Oklahoma is mentioned, they leave?
Anytime Oklahoma is on the board, and even in this last weekend, we extend those recusals; if we're even talking about somebody they could be matched up against, they're recused. For all of this debate that I'm talking about, those two, plus Gene Smith, were recused from the room.
What would you say to a conference commissioner who seeks your advice on whether he should have a nine-game conference season or an eight-game conference season based on your experience with the selection process, because it doesn't appear that only playing eight conference games has in any way hurt those conferences.
Yeah, that's a local decision. I'm sure that there's a lot of factors that go into that. I really wouldn't – again, that's a local decision. Strength of schedule is one piece of it. I think they can look at the history and glean what they want from that.
You mentioned the conference championship, obviously, but you're looking at Oklahoma's resume, just a three-point loss to Texas, which they had a chance to avenge in the title game. On the other hand, you had the 29-point Ohio State loss, the 20-point Georgia loss to LSU. How big of a factor was that in the debate? Did that come up, and how does the committee look at that?
Sure, we're looking at full resumes, so when you're doing the kind of debate that we're doing and the importance of that debate for that No. 4 piece, we're looking at every single game, and so of course when there aren't very many losses on the board, we're looking at the wins, we're looking at the losses. A three-point loss to a ranked team on a neutral field is different than the only loss amongst that peer group to an unranked team, and obviously we did take note that Georgia's two losses were against the No. 1 team in our rankings and what ultimately ended up being the No. 11 team. Sure, that was part of the discussion, but it was just one part of it.
I was just wondering, on TV you said there was no clear-cut team that was up and above the best team on the start between Ohio State, Georgia and Oklahoma, and you said you reverted back to the criteria and the protocol. When discussing those three teams, what in the criteria and the protocol supported Georgia being ranked ahead of Ohio State?
Again, we were looking at all four things. In that one, their strength of schedule was incredible. They have two losses, but to the No. 1 team in the country and to the No. 11 team. Again, it was very close, and a lengthy debate about all three of those teams. And again, we're looking at full resumes. Georgia had a number of games against ranked teams. Ohio State had impressive wins, as well. They probably had the most impressive win of the group with the win over Michigan. But again, they did have the only loss to an unranked team amongst that group.
As one of the committee members, do you feel that the protocol helps you determine the top four teams? Does it give you what you need and put you in the best position to make those decisions, or would you rather see conference championship games or something be weighted to help guide you a little bit more?
I think the commissioners did an outstanding job when they thought about setting this up, and they were very thorough, because again, this is an art, not a science. I think the protocol gives very clear guidance, and that guidance, when you determine that teams are not unequivocally better, is very helpful. It certainly was very helpful today and last night in my opinion.
There was a lot of debate over picking the four best teams versus the four deserving, as in four best, you should pick Georgia because they're clearly this good, et cetera, et cetera. Is there confusion over whether the charge is to pick the four best versus the four best resumes?
Our charge is very clear: To pick the four best teams. Before we start every meeting, every time we gather in Grapevine, Texas, we do review a piece of the protocol. We're very clear on the charge, to get the four best teams. Obviously reasonable minds can disagree on what that looks like, and that's why we have a protocol to make sure that we lean on when we have to make tough decisions.
Oklahoma's defense has been the thing, obviously, holding them back, I think, the most this season. How much when you're debating a contentious between three teams does the fact that they have played better the last couple weeks, how much did that weigh in to helping them elevate into the fourth spot?
It's certainly part of the conversation. Again, we watch all the games. We're looking at every single result, and the fact that their defense had two touchdowns in their last game and then had a key play in their last regular-season game and then had a key play yesterday, sure, that's a piece of it, no doubt. But we're also looking at the results of all the other teams that they're up against, as well.
I understand y'all were up here until 1:30 in the morning or so last night; when did you finally settle on the four teams? Was it last night before you broke, or today did that conversation go close to when y'all had to have it figured out?
Yeah, it went – I think it probably went up until 10:30-ish this morning. So we went until 1:30, debating, discussing, decided that it was 1:30, and we had been going at it pretty good and wanted to take some time away, reflect and come back, and we started the debate up early again this morning.
A couple times during the last couple weeks, you've referred to Oklahoma as having a historic offense, and for a long time in football, the feeling was the defense wins championships. Has the thinking evolved even since you've been on the committee in how you evaluate teams with really, really big-time offenses there versus maybe the old-school thinking of five, 10, 15 years ago?
Again, I think that's the beauty of this setup, right? You have 13 diverse backgrounds with a different set of experiences and a different set of opinions. And when you can get those 13 passionate experts in a room with a system that supports rigorous, candid debate, you get the best results.
So sure, that's part of the debate is how do you evaluate a team that has a historic offense and maybe a defense that doesn't match that? And so there's a lot of different ways to win football games. Our charge is to find the four best teams and debate why – who that is and why we think it's that way.
As the conversation surrounded Georgia and there was support for that team within the room, was there anybody who voiced concern about just putting a two-loss team in that didn't win its conference championship and about what kind of a reaction that would get?
No, I mean, our job is to pick the four best teams. So it really wasn't about number of losses. Obviously when you're looking at the resume, you can see that they've got two and others have one, but again, their two losses are against highly ranked teams. It's really about trying to get the four best teams. The conference piece is out of it. That's really not a part of it. We're looking at – there were some people who felt they were the fourth best team, and even some that felt they were unequivocally felt they were the fourth best team. But after all the dialogue, the debate, the intensity, you put it to a vote, and the vote didn't have them as unequivocally the fourth best team. In fact, it had them ranked No. 5.
Back to the UCF discussion, what's it going to take in your opinion for a Group of Five team to break into this?
You know, I'm not going to project on that. Again, I think the protocol is pretty clear. When you look at how we're supposed to evaluate picking the four best teams, conference championship is one of them, strength of schedule is one of them, results against common opponents is one of them. Again, I would just point to the protocol. I think it's laid out pretty clear.
Florida at 10, Kentucky at 14, same record, but Kentucky had beaten Florida head-to-head. What did you see as the gap between those two?
Yeah, as you get late into the year, it gets difficult. There's a lot of – sometimes you have a lot of conflicting info. I think it was just Florida's total body of work. While they lost the head-to-head, their total body of work with some impressive wins. I know Kentucky had some impressive wins, as well, but I think it was just total body of work.
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