College Football Playoff Committee Chairman Rob Mullens began his Sunday afternoon teleconference with an invitation: “Let me take you inside the room … “
Many Georgia football fans and the Bulldogs head coach, Kirby Smart, would have loved the opportunity after UGA was left out of the top four in the CFB Playoff Rankings on Sunday.
Big 12 Conference Championship Game winner Oklahoma (12-1) secured the fourth and final College Football Playoff spot and will play No. 1 Alabama (13-0) in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 29.
Clemson (13-0), the No 2 team, will play No. 3 Notre Dame (12-0) in the other CFP Semifinal in the Cotton Bowl, also on Dec. 29.
Georgia (11-2) will play Texas in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, but many college football experts argued the Bulldogs were one of the four best teams in the country and belonged in the CFB Playoffs.
Let me be 100 % clear… I just watched Georgia play in person. They are big, fast, athletic and physical. I don’t care they have 2 losses! I know EXACTLY what I saw! They are undoubtedly one of the BEST 4 teams in the country! Coaches on committee SHOULD surely see this!#SEC
— Gene Chizik (@CoachGeneChizik) December 2, 2018
“There was a lot of debate about Oklahoma, Georgia and Ohio State,” Mullens said. “The debate was deep, details 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.”
The College Football Playoff committee is made up of 13 people, and this year three of the six new members were sitting athletic directors: Florida’s Scott Stricklin, Georgia Tech’s Todd Stansbury and Oklahoma’s Joe Castiglione.
Mullens doesn’t disclose who said what, but he did indicate different people made cases for and against programs behind closed doors.
“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, (and) boy, did we debate it,” Mullens said. “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.”
Mullens explained that “the protocol are guidelines given to the committee by the commissioners when they created the playoff, it’s our rules of the road”.
The fact Oklahoma won its conference championship game, and it’s only loss came to No. 15 Texas, were the ultimate determining factors.
“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,” Mullens said. “But those teams were so tightly together, in the end the committee thought that that put Oklahoma at 4, Georgia at 5.”
Smart said Sunday he didn’t have “clarity” when it came to the process left that out the Bulldogs after their 35-28 loss to No. 1 Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.
Mullens explained that “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.”
What Mullens didn’t mention was that Oklahoma also ranked last in the Big 12 and 111th in the nation in total defense.
“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?” Mullens said. “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.”
Here’s a look at how Georgia and Oklahoma compared in key statistical areas:
6. Georgia, 76.13
31. Oklahoma, 74.10
1. Oklahoma, 583.8 yards per game
13. Georgia, 480.8
13. Georgia, 303.5 yards per game allowed
111. Oklahoma, 449.0 yards allowed per game
3rd Down Conversion offense
4. Oklahoma, 50.4 percent
7. Georgia, 49.6 percent
3rd Down Defense
13. Georgia 31.7 percent
108. Oklahoma 44.0 percent
1. Oklahoma 50.3 points per game
13. Georgia 40.1 points per game
10. Georgia, 17.2 points per game allowed
100. Oklahoma, 32.8 points per game allowed
Games vs. current CFP Rankings Top 25
Sept. 15 at No. 24 Iowa State, Won 37-27
Oct. 6 vs. No. 15 Texas, Lost 48-45
Nov. 23 at No. 16 West Virginia, Won 59-56
Dec. 1 vs. No. 15 Texas, Won 39-27
Sept. 22 at No. 23 Missouri, Won 43-29
Oct. 13 at No. 11 LSU, Lost 36-16
Oct. 27 vs. No. 10 Florida, Won 36-17
Nov. 3 at No. 14 Kentucky, Won 34-17
Dec. vs. No. 1 Alabama, Lost 35-28
*Note: Georgia and Oklahoma met in the CFP Semifinals last year in the Rose Bowl. The Bulldogs and current QB Jake Fromm defeated the Sooners and their former quarterback, Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield, 54-48 in double overtime
Georgia football SEC Championship Game