In some ways, it’s been a down year for college football. Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette are all but out of the Heisman race, a couple of top-tier teams – or teams people expected to be top-tier – have underperformed, and some of the elite teams have struggled mightily to survive inferior competition.
It’s been kind of a down year, no?
“That’s not my view actually,” College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I think we’re having a great season. I think we got off to a great start that first weekend, and things keep happening. The Clemson/Florida State game was intriguing last weekend. Obviously Nebraska/Wisconsin was off the charts in just how fascinating it was. Every weekend you have to pay attention because something wild is going to happen.”
As it stands, Alabama, Clemson, Michigan and Texas A&M are ranked first through fourth, respectively, in the playoff rankings, with Washington, Ohio State, Louisville and Wisconsin rounding out the top eight.
Hancock was asked which is tougher for the committee: evaluating an undefeated team that many people feel doesn’t have a chance to win it all (such as Nebraska), or evaluating a one- or two-loss team that looks absolutely legit (such as Wisconsin or Louisville, for example).
“The great thing about our room is we can dig deeper into those records,” Hancock said. “Are you undefeated? Okay, who did you play? Do you have a loss? Who did you lose to? What happened in the game? That’s never been done for this level in college football before. That really is the beauty. I don’t know if I could say which is tougher. It’s just a committee lining up side by side the teams – not only their game-by-game results, but their statistics and comparing that along with what the members have seen watching video. This week, there were four teams jumbled in there together – A&M, Washington, Ohio State and Louisville – all jumbled in there together, all very close, and the committee had to make a very hard decision.”
While a lot can happen in the final month of the season, it’s safe to say that all four playoff teams will come from Power Five conferences. Houston was in the conversation early in the year, but not after losses to Navy and SMU.
Still, Hancock believes that a non-Power Five team can one day make the playoff.
“I do,” he said. “I think that can happen. Play a good schedule, win your games and you’re going to be in the hunt. Just like everyone else, the Group of Five, they’re going to have to play good schedules. But if one of those teams that’s really good plays a good schedule and does well, they’ll absolutely be in the hunt for this.”
Hancock said that quality of teams, and not ratings, is the determining factor for which teams make the playoff and which ones don’t.
“We don’t have to worry about (ratings),” Hancock said. “All we have to do is get the right four teams, get them ranked in the right order, and we did that the first two years.”
Although Hancock doesn’t select the rankings, he oversees the entire process, which he enjoys.
“The only thing I’d rather do is be a radio host,” he joked. “I have a wonderful job. I love it.”