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December 3, 2019

Rob Mullens

Bill Hancock

Grapevine, Texas

THE MODERATOR: Welcome to this evening's College Football Playoff Selection Committee teleconference. Joining us tonight is Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff, and Rob Mullens, College Football Playoff Selection Committee Chair.

We'll turn it over to Rob for some opening comments.

ROB MULLENS: Thank you, Jim. Good evening.

Our next-to-final rankings are done. As you have seen, the committee ranked Ohio State as the No. 1 team in the nation, LSU as No. 2, Clemson as No. 3, and Georgia as No. 4. The top four teams did not change.

There are many other changes that did take place, and I would be happy to discuss the committee's thinking with you for all the teams that we ranked.

Obviously this weekend's conference championship games will be crucial to determining the final rankings. I, along with my fellow committee members, look forward to returning do Dallas in just a few days to watch those games and complete our work.

Before I take your questions, please let me thank you for joining these calls every week. It has been my pleasure to answer your questions. I welcome the role you all play in getting information to the fans of college football.

I'm happy to take your questions.

Q. Can you explain a little bit why Wisconsin is the highest ranked two-loss team for the committee right now.
ROB MULLENS: Sure. Their impressive win over Minnesota gave them three wins over top-25 teams. Their loss to No. 1 Ohio State, then a close loss late at Illinois. We see them as a balanced team, top 10 nationally in relative offense and defense.

Q. You've talked before about how the committee doesn't incentivize margin of victory. The number one thing on the list is always performance on the field. How do you reconcile those two things? The best way to show a really strong performance on the field is to win by a lot of points. How does the committee figure that out?
ROB MULLENS: Watching how a team plays. Whether somebody has a big lead and keeps pouring it on late in the game is irrelevant. It's really how you perform up until that point.

Q. Having gone through this the last few years, on that last set of rankings, when you have to handle teams that lost, played an extra game and lost in their conference title games, are you mindful of how far they fall relative to teams that aren't playing that week, or is it handled pretty much the same as any other week?
ROB MULLENS: Good question.

We are very mindful because they're all division champs. It is an honor to play in the conference championship game. So we are mindful of what they've accomplished during the regular season.

Q. Specifically about Cincinnati, how they compared to Boise State, who they fell one spot behind, who has one fewer loss, but still ahead of an Appalachian State team?
ROB MULLENS: We spent a lot of time on those. Obviously Boise State went on the road in a non-conference game and beat Florida State. Cincinnati's only losses are to No. 1 Ohio State, then last week's game against a ranked Memphis. Both really good teams.

App State has two Power 5 wins at South Carolina and North Carolina. Their only loss is to a close Georgia Southern team.

Those teams are all very comparable.

Q. What does the committee see is the difference between Ohio State and LSU that the writers and the coaches and the polls don't?
ROB MULLENS: Two really, really good teams, first of all. That's what the committee sees. Ohio State now with their impressive win over Michigan on the road has four wins over top-25 teams. LSU has three very impressive wins over top-25 teams.

As we've talked in past weeks, both really have dynamic offenses, both have good defenses. Ohio State's is just a little ahead at this point.

Q. Can you kind of go into the discussion surrounding Alabama's drop seven spots. Was it as simple as the head-to-head with Auburn, that they were the top three-loss team ahead of a couple two-loss teams?
ROB MULLENS: Head-to-head is certainly a key part of it. It also matters what happens around you.

Alabama, their only two losses are to a No. 2 and a No. 11 team. However, they only have two wins over Power 5 teams with winning records, both Texas A&M and Tennessee, who are 7-5.

When you look at Auburn, obviously they have the head-to-head. They also beat the No. 13 team. Close losses to No. 2 and No. 4.

Specifically when you look at those two, the head-to-head probably did carry the day at the end of the day.

Q. You mentioned last week the committee thought Ohio State has more of an eye test compared to LSU, which had been No. 1 the week before. This week it sounds like the résumé in terms of top-25 wins accounts for a lot. As you get closer to the end, does résumé begin to count for a little bit more in terms of where you rank these teams?
ROB MULLENS: No, it all counts. I don't think we said last week that one thing was more than another. I think, again, we said both those teams were very good teams.

Obviously we recognize the wins against ranked opponents, the overall schedule strength, as well as how they're performing on the field, offense, defense and special teams.

Two great teams.

Q. When you have a win on the road, when LSU beat Alabama, they were No. 3 in the rankings, now they're No. 12. How does the committee regard a win like that when a team maybe loses a game, but at the time it counts as a very significant victory?
ROB MULLENS: Exactly. We understand what happened at the time. We're aware of exactly what happened that game, where the teams were going into that game.

Q. What specifically is the difference right now in the minds of the committee between Utah and Oklahoma?
ROB MULLENS: We spent considerable time on it, more time than anywhere else on the board. There was plenty of debate.

Obviously when you look at Oklahoma's résumé, they have the win against the No. 7 team on the road, without a key wide receiver. They also beat Oklahoma State.

When we look at Utah, we see a season-long balance of very consistent play on both sides of the ball. Very dominant wins. Their only loss is on a Friday night on the road at a No. 22 ranked team when a key player on offense missed the majority of the game.

Q. Those were all bullet points. What factors from that that has Utah still one spot ahead?
ROB MULLENS: That's exactly the discussion. Those are the factors. You just line them up, then we put a vote on what members see, how they feel those teams line up.

Q. For the G5 spot in the Cotton Bowl, at this point in the season is it the ACC's to lose?
ROB MULLENS: I mean, obviously there's a lot of games to play. Memphis is the highest ranked G5 at No. 17. Committee's impressed with their win over Cincinnati last week to add to their win over Navy and SMU. Explosive offense, for sure.

But we still have to watch the championship games coming up this weekend.

Q. When it comes to App State, what is the case against it when comparing it to the other G5 schools that keeps it lower than Memphis and Boise State and Cincinnati?
ROB MULLENS: Again, just résumé. Obviously Cincinnati, it's right there. We're in that discussion of 19 to 21. We watch the games. We see these teams as very close.

Boise State's win at Florida State, you compare that to App State's wins at South Carolina, North Carolina. Then Cincinnati's only losses are to ranked teams.

We spent considerable time on that.

Q. This isn't the first time it's happened, but Ohio State and Wisconsin are playing twice. How do you and the committee view beating the same opponent twice? Does it count as two wins, or is it just one because it's the same team?
ROB MULLENS: Two wins. I mean, Wisconsin is a very good, highly ranked team. When you play them twice, it counts as two games.

Q. Do you take quality of win in terms of the ranking of what the team is ranked at the end of the year? How do you view that? It's obviously two different times, two different rankings.
ROB MULLENS: Sure. It's two different locations. We're aware of where the games are played. We watch the games. We're aware of what was happening around the time they play. We take all those factors into consideration.

Q. Were there any revotes between the Utah and Oklahoma debate?
ROB MULLENS: I'm trying to think. We voted yesterday. Spent considerable time on it. Revisited it again today. I don't think we had a revote. I think we spent considerable time discussing it again, but I don't think we revoted.

Q. What in particular did the debate surround?
ROB MULLENS: Just what we've talked about here: looking at their complete résumés.

Obviously Oklahoma has the win over Baylor and Oklahoma State.

When you watch Utah, very balanced, very consistent performance. They've dominated the majority of their schedule. Top two or three defense. Experienced quarterback. Only loss on the road without a key offensive player.

Q. You said on ESPN earlier you guys talked about Clemson as a possibility, at least in the conversation, of being No. 1. What is the reason behind that? The eye test is what y'all are thinking about?
ROB MULLENS: Well, obviously Clemson has been very impressive, seven straight wins by at least 30 points, strong offense, strong defense, very balanced.

When you're looking at the top three, you're looking at three outstanding teams. As I mentioned, the difference is just wins over ranked opponents, schedule strength.

Q. Is there a path that Clemson can maybe get to No. 1, even if those other two teams win this weekend?
ROB MULLENS: We don't project ahead. We'll watch the games. We'll go back in that room and discuss all options.

Q. Can you tell me how close teams 7 through 10 are, Baylor, Wisconsin, Florida and Penn State?
ROB MULLENS: We spent considerable time. We do them in blocks of three. So 1 through 3, 4 through 6, 7 through 9. When you're looking at 7 through 9, those all would have been part of the discussion. The separator between 7 and 8, when you break it down, is you got a one-loss versus a two-loss.

We did spend considerable time talking about 8, 9 and 10, for sure.

Q. Back to the Group of 5 question. How much better is this compared to the other three ranked within five spots of each other? Is this especially Memphis' spot to lose going into a rematch with Cincinnati for the second time in two weeks?
ROB MULLENS: Well, I mean, Memphis has been the highest ranked the last few weeks, I believe. They just added to their résumé with the win over No. 20 Cincinnati. When you add that to their win against Navy and SMU, which was ranked at certain times this season, only loss is to an 8-4 Temple team in a very close game. Explosive offense. The committee is extremely impressed with Memphis.

At the same time, as I mentioned earlier on the call, there's a number of other Group of 5 teams that have impressed the committee, as well.

We're looking forward to watching the games this weekend, measuring the outcomes.

Q. You said last week that the committee viewed Ohio State as a more complete team than LSU because of defense. Is that still the way you see it after LSU had a strong defensive performance on Saturday?
ROB MULLENS: Yeah, we're looking at the full résumé. That's one piece of it. Ohio State also did strengthen their résumé with a road win at our No. 14 ranked team.

Q. A little bit of a different question you don't get every week. With Auburn moving up to No. 11, Alabama just below them, a lot of talk about the New Year's Six situation. Is Auburn potentially in that discussion for a New Year's Six bowl with what they did, their body of wins?
ROB MULLENS: The New Year's six are decided strictly based on rankings and contracts. We'll have to wait and see what the final rankings are.

But I would say being at 11 puts them within the range where that could be a topic of conversation after we get through next week's games.

Q. When it comes to Wisconsin and the Big Ten title game, if they were to lose, I know you in the past have given conference champions much more validity for their ranking, is that a potential where a Wisconsin team maybe doesn't fall out of the top 10 even with a loss?
ROB MULLENS: We don't project. I think I mentioned earlier to a question, we do understand this is an extra game. Wisconsin is a division champion. We're aware of that when we get in the room and have the discussions.

Q. Are you comparing LSU and Ohio State head-to-head right now or is it Ohio State is clearly ahead because of the four wins and the better defense? Are you comparing them head-to-head right now?
ROB MULLENS: No. We're looking at Ohio State, LSU, Clemson, they're in that first grouping. We do that first grouping in groupings of three. We're still discussing them in great detail.

Q. How much does the stretch run factor in? How much does that weigh? I know you look at everything, but does that stretch run, the final three, four games, does that weigh more in at the end? Is it hard to ignore?
ROB MULLENS: I wouldn't say it gets any more weight. It depends on who you're playing, how you're performing. We look at the whole résumé.

Of course, we're watching the games down the stretch. It does matter who and how.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, everybody. This is not the last teleconference of the year. Rob will do a live news conference here at the Gaylord in Dallas, but we will simulcast it into a live press conference/teleconference over the phone. Let me give you the phone number. It is Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Central Time. The media dial-in number is 855-592-5062. The conference ID is 6482479.

That concludes tonight's teleconference. Thanks very much for joining us. Have a great evening.

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