No. 8 Washington State, No. 15 Utah are only Pac-12 teams included in the selection committee's initial ranking
Back in August, Rob Mullens was hoping that he would have to recuse himself from the room and enjoy some bacon in the lounge at the Taylor Texan Resort in Dallas while Oregon was being discussed by the College Football Playoff selection committee.
But after following up the win over then-No. 7 Washington with back-to-back losses, the Ducks (5-3, 2-3 Pac-12) have faded out of the national championship race and dropped into fourth place in the conference's North Division standings.
Washington State is the only Pac-12 team within striking distance of the national semifinals in the CFP’s initial rankings, which were released Tuesday.
The Cougars are No. 8 behind No. 5 Michigan, No. 6 Georgia and No. 7 Oklahoma. No. 15 Utah is the only other Pac-12 team in the ranking.
The first four are No. 1 Alabama (SEC), No. 2 Clemson (ACC), No. 3 LSU (SEC) and No. 4 Notre Dame (independent).
The top 25 includes seven teams from the SEC, five from the ACC, four from the Big 12, four from the Big Ten. Two Group of Five programs, No. 12 UCF and No. 23 Fresno State, are included.
Mullens, the selection committee chairman, was interviewed by ESPN’s Rece Davis shortly after the rankings were unveiled. Here is the transcript:
Question: Rob, we mentioned (there are) six new committee members, you’ve been around this a little before. How did the new voices in the room impact the way the teams were discussed and evaluated?
Mullens: Well, all members came fully prepared. The new members had all the resources, knew how to use all the resources and were up to speed when they walked in the room. That’s the beauty of this process, you have 13 diverse opinions, and the new members added a lot to that conversation.
Question: When you look at the new rankings, and I think it’s a little early to say why is this team seven, this team eight or whatever. But what was it about Washington State, there’s been some that have reacted quickly, they’re No. 8 in the initial rankings. What impressed the committee about them?
Mullens: We are only through week nine and we’re looking through those resumes. When you look at what a grad transfer quarterback has added there at Washington State, quality win at Utah and then a very tough road loss at USC. The committee was impressed with their work.
Question: How about the comparison between an undefeated Notre Dame team and a one-loss LSU team. How close was that discussion in the room?
Mullens: There’s a lot of discussion about that, obviously, but when you look at LSU’s resume, they’ve got six wins against teams above .500 that include quality wins over Georgia and Mississippi State. They’ve got a great resume. Their only loss is a close loss at Florida. Really impressed with their defense and overall their body of work was pretty strong.
Question: How would you compare the debate in the room between resume of a team and subjective football judgement of all the committee members, particularly those who might have had experience as player or coach?
Mullens: It’s all of the above. We’ve got this great set of resources available to us. When we put the resumes up we get to see all the numbers, who they beat, who they lost to, all the statistics. But it does come down to watching the games as well, so there’s plenty of conversation about what you see in the games and on the field.
Question: Rob, you go to great lengths to say it’s all about this year, there’s no history under consideration. If you look at UCF’s resume right now, I don’t know that you’d say it’s top-12 in the country. How would you say that the equity that they’ve built by winning 20 games in a row maybe offset some of the questions about their resume? There are still some that would say this team is not as talented as last year, yet they start with the same record, several spots higher than they did a year ago.
Answer: As you said, we only look at the games to date, week one through nine, and they are 7-0. That landed them at 12th. They are the only team in the country that has not played a team that has a winning record through week nine, and that was duly noted by the committee and that’s what landed them at 12.