The College Football Playoff committee released its penultimate rankings Tuesday night, and Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens, chairman of the committee, conducted a teleconference afterward. Here are the questions, answers and my responses:
ROB MULLENS: Our penultimate rankings are done. Here they are: Alabama is No. 1, Clemson is No. 2, Notre Dame is No. 3, and Georgia is No. 4. Six teams in last week’s top 25 lost games, including three top 10 teams: Michigan, LSU and Washington State. As a result, Georgia moved from No. 5 to No. 4, Oklahoma moved from No. 6 to No. 5, and Ohio State went from No. 10 to No. 6.
As you know, the conference championship games are coming up. The committee will return one more time to discuss our final rankings. While many of you on this call will want to look ahead and speculate, I remind you it is not the job of the committee. I’m more than happy to talk to you about this week’s rankings, but I hope you understand if I don’t look ahead and talk about the ‘what ifs’ based on upcoming games. It’s been another exciting year in college football and I’m glad to take your questions.
Q. I know when you guys are in there evaluating the teams, you do it in chunks of three. In terms of the 4, 5 and 6 spots, how close are Georgia and Oklahoma, or not close? How close or not close are Oklahoma and Ohio State?
MULLENS: I mean, obviously you’ve been through the mock process, and you understand how it breaks down. But I really don’t have a measurement for closeness. What I can tell you is that as we look at that grouping, 4, 5 and 6, as we do every week, we take a deep dive. There was a lot of discussion about Georgia, about Oklahoma, and about Ohio State. At the end the committee voted Georgia 4, Oklahoma 5, and Ohio State 6.
Oh, I think Mullens has a measure for closeness. Every time you vote, you see the rankings, and although you don’t see vote totals, you do get a sense of when a vote is close. Mullens knows whether Georgia was a unanimous No. 4, for example, which I suspect the Bulldogs are, at least in comparison with No. 5.
Q. How much was the injury to (Central Florida quarterback) McKenzie Milton talked about in the room? How much of a factor was that in ultimately keeping them behind two-loss Michigan?
MULLENS: Obviously our thoughts are with McKenzie and his family. Wish him a speedy recovery, first and foremost. It was discussed. We watched the games. We know exactly what happens in these games. The discussion did turn to that UCF outscored South Florida 28-10 with a backup quarterback in there. We’re also aware that UCF played with a backup quarterback, I believe it was in the East Carolina game. While they may have had to change their approach, it was still effective and they won a game 38-10.