home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


November 3, 2015

Jeff Long

Grapevine, Texas

GINA LEHE: I'm joined by College Football Playoff selection committee chair Jeff Long and executive director of the College Football Playoff Bill Hancock. We will begin tonight with opening remarks from Jeff and then turn it over to the operator for questions.

JEFF LONG: Good evening, everyone. It is truly exciting to be back with you as we kick off the second year of the College Football Playoff. Thank you to all of you for joining us.

We're a little more than halfway through the season, and there is a lot of football -- as you know, a lot of football that remains to be played. In many conferences, some of their biggest games are still ahead. But our first rankings came out after the ninth week of the season this season just as it did last year. These rankings reflect the games that have been played thus far.

They result from our committee members watching the games, analyzing the statistics and discussing in depth who the best teams are.

Let me remind you of the criteria our football committee focuses on as we rank the best teams in college football.

Winning games, of course, is the first thing we look at and the most important. A team's record speaks volumes, but it doesn't tell us everything about that team's résumé. Our committee's charge is to go deeper. We always look at strength of schedule, and this was discussed in great depth over the last two days. Losses against a quality opponent were also taken into account.

We discussed whether any one-loss teams should be ranked higher than undefeated teams because of the strength of their schedule or the circumstances around their loss. And I will say this, as I will say it every week until the final week, being a conference champion is an important criteria that we will take into account in the final rankings the weekend of December 6th. In short, the committee went into depth, and we discussed every team in great detail.

Before I talk about our decisions, I have one more reminder for you. This is the first of six rankings. Change is guaranteed, and that's what makes college football exciting. Every week we will begin with a fresh discussion of who the best teams are, and we will report those results to you.

After week nine, here are our rankings: Top ranked team is Clemson. Second ranked team is LSU. Third ranked team is Ohio State. And the fourth ranked team is Alabama. You should have already received a document listing our rankings 1 through 25. Let me share with you some of the items we discussed.

Committee members were impressed with the strength of Clemson on both sides of the ball. Clemson has four wins against team with better than .500 records including the win against Notre Dame.

Similarly, LSU is strong on offense and defense. They beat Florida at home and Mississippi State on the road.

Ohio State is strong. The Buckeyes are undefeated and they have three wins against teams with better than .500 records.

Alabama, of course, has one loss but has three wins against quality teams: Wisconsin, Georgia and Texas A&M.

Just like last year, the committee takes strength of schedule seriously. We know big games are ahead for some, and they'll make a big difference in our rankings.

I want to express my thanks to the committee members who all worked hard and came in prepared and worked diligently through the two days here and did their homework. They paid close attention and are dedicated to college football.

With that, I'm happy to take questions.

Q. Jeff, the rankings for Alabama, Florida and Ole Miss, when you have three teams that have sort of done this round-robin thing and with each of them having a win, not quite a full round-robin, how difficult was that to parse, and how much weight did you put on the games that those teams played against each other?
JEFF LONG: Well, certainly evaluated the games that were played against each other, certainly took into account whether they were home and away. But I think that Alabama from our point of view, you know, had a stronger schedule in the games that they've won. They've got three wins against teams with .500 or better records, better than .500 records I should say, and Ole Miss with two and Florida with two. So that's the difference, but you know what, those are good teams, no question, and they're close, even though they may be separated by a number of ranking spots.

Q. A lot of people wondered, I think, how you guys would treat Memphis. I wonder if you can kind of give us the rundown of how they landed at 13 and how much consideration they got to be ranked a little higher than that.
JEFF LONG: Yeah, I think that offensively they've performed very well. You know, that's been, I think, the thing that jumped out at us. I think that Ole Miss -- the victory over Ole Miss and Ole Miss's subsequent victory over Alabama really helped move Memphis into that consideration. You know, they have two other wins against teams with better than .500 records, so that stood out at us at this time, and we just think they're a really solid team that has scheduled and won games against higher-ranked teams. So that was impressive to us.

Q. I'm hearing you make a lot of these references with teams with .500 or better records, wins over .500 or better records. Iowa has, I believe, three of those. How did they end up below Baylor and TCU? You mentioned on TV they obviously haven't played that kind of schedule yet.
JEFF LONG: It's not just that they've beaten someone with a .500 or better record. We look a little deeper and see who those teams are that have better than .500 records. Yes, true, Iowa has three of those, and then two no-loss teams, or three, I guess: Baylor, Michigan State and TCU ranked right above them with maybe less, with Baylor and TCU. Again, that's one of the criteria. We looked at a number of different things, and the committee members thought that Baylor's -- particularly their explosive offense and then TCU's offense, as well, so I think those are the things that gave the edge over Iowa.

Q. What was the biggest debate in the room this week over?
JEFF LONG: You know, I get asked that. I really can't narrow it down to one. We have lots of debates. When you're doing seven rounds and revotes and ranking the top 25, there was lots of debate about a lot of things. I'm sorry I can't really answer that for you.

Q. When you look at where your rankings are right now, the Florida loss on the road to your No. 2 team is ranked 10, but 'Bama lost at home to the No. 18 team. It just seems disproportionate to me. I understand the reasoning that you've already said, but when you look at it based on your own ranking, is there any further explanation that you can give for how those numbers line up?
JEFF LONG: I think if you go look at Alabama and how they won those games that they've won against quality opponents, and I think that sends a strong message of why we ranked Alabama higher than Florida.

Q. On the ESPN broadcast you mentioned that there was quite a bit of discussion about Baylor, TCU, the Big 12 teams, and also the strength of schedule. Just how difficult was it to, I guess, evaluate those teams given the strength of schedule, and what finally separated Baylor from TCU from Oklahoma State in the committee's opinion?
JEFF LONG: Yeah, again, it's hard to narrow it down. There's a lot of views about that. But you know, I think Baylor's explosive offense is one that really took note, you know. When you look at comparable games between -- when they played Texas Tech, Baylor has a significant point spread difference win over Texas Tech, and TCU took a great play at the end of the game to win that very closely. I think those were determining factors between Baylor and TCU.

Q. I'm interested in how you evaluate when teams play certain opponents. For example, Alabama and Florida both beat Georgia pretty convincingly. Did it help Alabama that they beat Georgia with Nick Chubb, beat Georgia with their original starting quarterback, Florida beats Georgia without Chubb, beats Georgia with a third-string quarterback?
JEFF LONG: Yeah, all of those are factors that are discussed and noted, and are reflected in the vote, I think. Yeah, definitely all those things are part of the discussion.

Q. You mentioned the strength of schedule factor in regard to Baylor, which is understandable. How about the change of quarterback factor in regard to Baylor? Has that come into play yet, and how much will that be viewed as we go forward?
JEFF LONG: Well, that's a good question. Had has not been taken into account. We have not seen the second team quarterback play. We've evaluated Baylor based on what they've done thus far with their starting quarterback.

Q. And last year you guys seemed to take a pretty good shine to Cardale Jones when he lit it up early. I guess all options are open there?
JEFF LONG: Well, I think we fortunately will get a chance to evaluate Baylor with a replacement quarterback, as we did Ohio State last year. We will get to see him and evaluate them accordingly.

Q. How close would you say four, five and six were? Was there a place where you felt like there was a gap?
JEFF LONG: I think, you know, we were strong one through four, and then five, six, seven were certainly discussed maybe longer, actually, when I stop and think about it. I think one through four were pretty strong, and then five, six, seven, eight were debated and discussed and ranked.

Q. Talk about the two Florida schools: Florida State and Florida. If they play each other at the end of the year, can one of those teams that play each other at the end of the year knock the other out in the playoffs?
JEFF LONG: Well, certainly if somebody were to beat the other one and they were in position, yes, that's certainly possible.

Q. And also, talk about Notre Dame, what you've seen from them. I know they lost to Clemson in the rain with the two points in the rain. Do you see them running the tables and getting into the playoffs if they win out?
JEFF LONG: Well, we don't look ahead like that. We rank based on what they've done thus far. Notre Dame had a very close loss to Clemson, and then they have three wins against teams with .500 or better records. At Temple and then USC were also very good wins for them.

Q. I wonder as you looked at Oklahoma State, that's a team that just came off, I guess, scoring 70 points on Saturday, but they've come back from some pretty big deficits over the course of the year. What did you guys discuss on them and what put them at the place they are?
JEFF LONG: You know, they scored 70 against Texas Tech, but as we looked at other teams, a lot of other teams have scored on Texas Tech. That wasn't surprising.

And then they still need to play some stronger teams at the end of their schedule, and that's coming up for them, as well, so they'll get a chance. Their overall strength of schedule thus far is not very high, so I think that's resulted in Oklahoma State being ranked behind Baylor and TCU.

Q. You mentioned early on that one of the things that was discussed was whether teams loss, the circumstances of that loss and the unusual circumstances. I was wondering if you had any examples of that. Would the weather conditions, for instance, with Notre Dame against Clemson for something like that, does that come into the discussion?
JEFF LONG: We discuss playing conditions, absolutely. That was part of our discussion about Clemson and Notre Dame. Yeah, weather conditions, unusual plays, those are things that we discuss.

So I'll stop there.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297