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Tom Osborne explains selection process for College Football Playoff

Tom Osborne

There is so much we don’t exactly know regarding the selection process to determine the inaugural College Football Playoff.

This much we do know:

  1. A 13-member committee was created to choose the participants.
  2. Each member of the committee will be recused from voting when their school or conference is discussed
  3. A team’s strength of schedule and level of competition will be primary factors in how team’s are differentiated.

One of the members of the committee is former Nebraska head coach and athletic director Dr. Tom Osborne. The Nebraska Cornhuskers’ official site interviewed Osborne Thursday to discuss the processes the committee will use to help decide which four teams will be chosen to play in the College Football Playoff.

Here are the highlights:

We’ve been introduced to the technology and will be able to watch almost every football game that’s played. We also will have access to a huge amount of statistical data that will become relevant about the fourth or fifth game of the season. We will see trends that take shape in terms of who’s playing well on offense, who’s good on defense, field position, the kicking game, turnovers, and those kinds of things. Of course, we will also look at strength of competition, conference championships, and even injuries will be considered.

I think that if two teams have identical records and similar schedules and one of them wins the conference championship and one of them doesn’t, then some weight may be given to the conference championship team. There are conferences other than the five large conferences which will have a path into the four-team playoff. Obviously if you win the Big Ten, Pac-12, Big 12, ACC or SEC conferences, you are going to be somewhere in the hunt, unless you’re a team that manages to win a conference and still lose two or three games. That will make it more difficult. The teams that are undefeated and win conference championships are certainly going to be under major consideration.

A conference champion who loses their starting quarterback in the last game of the season might possibly be downgraded somewhat. You are going to be looking at who are the strongest teams at the moment the decision is made. You’re also looking at which teams are capable of beating every other team that they face.

I think it is certainly possible that you would have two teams from the same conference selected with one of them not being a conference champion. Obviously they would have to be a very powerful team. I hate to speculate in certain areas because you paint yourself into a corner, but at the end of the year, what you are going to try to do is take the best estimation and decide who the four best teams in the country are. There are many ways to get to that, and being a conference champion is certainly one of those. The win/loss record is another. Strength of schedule and head-to-head competition would be important, and injuries, and some statistical data will be examined as well. For example, if two teams are somewhat identical, maybe two teams have lost one game each and are both conference champions. That’s when you might begin to look at statistical data.

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25 Responses to “Tom Osborne explains selection process for College Football Playoff”
  1. patbocam says: Aug 21, 2014 11:14 PM

    SEC puts 2 teams in! Bet on it! If we had an 8 team playoff, sec outs 3 teams in. Just that good.

  2. yankeefootball says: Aug 22, 2014 12:33 AM

    Wow. That is way too subjective. This whole exercise may prove to be a very bad idea. Too many teams and too few spots in a playoff for it to boil down to a debate! It seems like you may want to have your top 16 teams all send representatives to the panel and plead their case, mainly because this seems like a strange little grand jury deciding behind closed doors.

  3. huskerzfan says: Aug 22, 2014 12:57 AM

    16 teams?


    Prior to the bowl games, here are #9 – #16.

    #9 South Carolina, 2 losses, lost 41-30 to Georgia
    #10 Oregon, 2 losses, got beat 42-16 by Arizona
    #11 Oklahoma 2 losses, 36-20 by Texas and 41-12 by Baylor
    #12 Clemson, FSU beat them 51-14
    #13 Okie State 10-3, lost to West Virginia
    #14 Arizona State 10-4, combined 2 losses to Stanford were 42-82
    #15 UCF lost to #9 South Carolina, played crap schedule
    #16 LSU 3rd in division

    What would be the point of adding these undeserving teams?

  4. yankeefootball says: Aug 22, 2014 1:56 AM

    It’s not that anyone needs a 16 team playoff. The point is that it is so subjective that why not let teams plead their case. None of this is even close to perfect. Someone’s opinion is going to sway a team into the four that may not belong. If all things are relatively equal among 4-8 teams, then what? It will be based way too much on a debate.

  5. bigedefense says: Aug 22, 2014 2:04 AM

    16 teams worked pretty well for Diviosion II & 1AA. I know D 2 has expanded to 24 now, but I. Not sure if FCS has. Probably won’t see it happen in D1, but I would personally like it. Hey, basketball takes 68 teams and no 16 seed has ever won a game. It’s something that the players can tell their children & grandchildren that they were a part of. It shouldn’t always be about the fans or money, throw the student athletes a bone & give them an opportunity to say they played in the playoffs.

  6. huskerzfan says: Aug 22, 2014 2:16 AM

    The only reason for 8 or more teams is for the fans. The players don’t get anything out of it other than more games that they could possibly be injured to hurt their chances at a professional career.

    Fans want more games cause they are fans, and they want something neat and cute like the Men’s Basketball tournament. That tournament is so splendidly awesome that we have recently crowned a team that was .500 in conference play. Well deserving was that team.

    No need to have anybody but a conference champion play for the title. If you can’t win your region, why should you even being playing for a chance at a National Title?

    The NFL used to only have a 2 team playoff. Then it expanded to 4, then 8, and now 12. Such a great way to determine a champion that a team finished the season 1-4 in their final 5 games of the regular season before they “won” the title recently.

    Playoffs are strictly for ratings, fans, and money. It has no basis on identifying the best team, but to reward the hottest team at that moment.

  7. longborer69 says: Aug 22, 2014 3:08 AM

    Hey, huskerzfan, thanks for listing the #9-#16 teams. It illustrates why an 8 team cutoff could be a little problematic. Three teams in your list beat teams in the top 8. One of them beat a team in the top 4.

    Maybe when there is so much subjectivity involved, the top 4 isn’t reliable. The top conferences don’t play each other enough to make any kind of real comparison between them in any particular season, so you are simply guessing who the top 4 are. We can say historically the SEC has been the strongest, but can anyone point to any real reason to believe it was stronger than the PAC last year? Yet last year the SEC got two in BCS bowls, the PAC only had one. Why? Subjectivity and (probably) money.

    The players don’t get anything out of it? Tell you what. Ask them. This year, at the end of the regular season, ask the players of the teams ranked 9-16 if they wish there were a 16 team playoff.

    And you know what? If there had been, Oklahoma or Oregon might have won it. Sure, Oklahoma might have just had one of those “lightning in a bottle” games, but on the other hand they looked like they really put it together at the end. And Mariota was healthy again, who knows how Oregon would have done in a playoff? If they were back to the way they were at the beginning of the year, they just might have been the best team in the country.

    Talk about deserving. Do you think Auburn was more deserving than Alabama, or Missouri, or Michigan State? You do realize they nearly lost at home to Washington State and needed absolute miracles in more than one game. Good for them, they were in position to get lucky and they took advantage of it when the chance came, but it would be hard to say they were in the top 5 deserving teams in the country.

  8. danoregon says: Aug 22, 2014 3:25 AM

    Don’t even know why they are bothering with a poll. The conference champions, plus any second place teams who may have beaten another conference’s champion. Top four.

  9. shawtiernan says: Aug 22, 2014 3:57 AM

    Playoffs absolutely identify the best team. First of all, there is a LOT to be said about playing your best when it counts the most and that goes into being a great team. Secondly, your specific example, the Ravens, had lost a multitude of players to injuries at around mid-season (ray Lewis) and got a lot of those players back for the playoffs. So in the end, they were kind of the best team (defensive holding on last play means well never really know). When the Seahawks throttled my Broncos in the Super Bowl, it’s barely even mentioned now how big of an impact Percy harvin had on those 48 points, and he had played so little he couldn’t be game planned for. Being the best team is more about who’s still standing than any measure of talent on paper. The Seahawks were clearly the better team last year because the Broncos were missing 6 starters by the time they got there, so I for one love the objectivity in regards to injuries, strength of schedule, etc. Outside of fans of particular teams, an unbiased observer wants to see the best play each other. If that’s two SEC and two PAC teams then so be it. Underdog stories are great, but until the format expands letting in an undefeated from the A weaker conference that you know would get throttled by the Oregons and South Carolina’s of the world, much less Bama or Auburn is like giving the top seeded team a free path to the championship.

  10. corky2141 says: Aug 22, 2014 4:14 AM

    12 teams , top. 4 get a bye, bottom 8 play out & then reseed the bottom 8 so 1 plays against the lowest and 4 plays against the highest seed.

  11. nolebucfan32 says: Aug 22, 2014 6:00 AM

    8 teams would be enough. Conference champs for all the major conferences and wildcards. There is a big drop off in college, and there is really no reason for more than 8.

  12. ancientcougar says: Aug 22, 2014 6:03 AM

    UCF demolished Baylor in their BCS bowl. They looked like they could have taken on any team that day.

  13. draconian1111 says: Aug 22, 2014 7:55 AM

    Just hoping that they can finally negate the issue where a team has a loss early in the season – that always doomed them in the past.
    Teams that are playing REAL tough – and improving – towards the end of the season are the ones to watch for. Just because a team lost their 1st or 2nd game of the season shouldn’t doom them – look at how they REALLY play later.
    Some teams – just have a bad game early – and then become MONSTER.
    The number of teams will never be right to all of us – 4 teams – what about the 5th? 8 teams – what about, etc… I think 8 is ideal – unless my team is #9 (just like all of you).
    Just look at how teams are playing at the end of the season and pick the 8 best – the 9th…sorry – there has to be a cutoff. It’s still better than what we had and we can work it from there.

  14. draconian1111 says: Aug 22, 2014 8:01 AM dispute a comment – playoffs here would not necessarily identify the absolute best – as they are not round robin.
    Team 1 plays team 8 – but let’s just say it’s a great matchup for team 8 – great pass defense or whatever – and they win. Same team – facing team 2 – would have got shelled because team 2 is a running team.
    No different than we have in the NFL – depends on the individual game and how the teams are seeded and who they play. Absolute best can only be determined if every team plays every other – which isn’t happening.

  15. PokeSalad says: Aug 22, 2014 9:07 AM

    This formula pretty much locks in two SEC teams every season, which is as it should be.

  16. dmvtransplant says: Aug 22, 2014 9:16 AM

    Please you could fill the playoff with SEC teams, once ESPN realizes the ratings stink they’ll make sure it never happens again.

    That SEC vs SEC NCG from 2011 was horrible for the World Wide Leader, but the Bama vs ND one the next year set records. If you honestly think I’m crazy just look at the ratings and tell me if you think the one company with the most to lose is going to let a “Committee” decide what they want to see.

  17. thefiesty1 says: Aug 22, 2014 10:10 AM

    Sounds like Osborne and the committee are going to use the WAG method for selecting the 4 playoff teams. (WAG=wild a$$ guess).

  18. Scott Hevel says: Aug 22, 2014 10:20 AM

    So, it seems they are going to look at some sort of RPI and then computer models. In other words, they’re going to take a “BCS” formula and say “any objections to the top 4” and take a vote and move on.

    What a waste

  19. chargrz says: Aug 22, 2014 1:32 PM

    6 teams with top 2 getting a bye.

  20. 8to80texansblog says: Aug 22, 2014 2:31 PM

    Nobody gets a bye. 16 teams. 15 games. Would be worth billions.

  21. brownsmakemecrazy says: Aug 22, 2014 7:18 PM

    8 teams would be ideal. It’s amazing how these morons that make decisions never get it right.

  22. beanocook says: Aug 25, 2014 4:17 PM

    NFL fans, or should I say casual football fans, are going to ruin college football. There is no room in college football for a 7-9 division “champion”. College football has always been about trying to go undefeated. Perfection. Anything short of perfection you have no right to whine. College football invented this sport. NFL fans can pound sand.

  23. beanocook says: Aug 25, 2014 4:27 PM

    6 teams with top 2 getting a bye AND hosting the national semi final. The quest to finish ranked #1 is the essence of the sport, this needs to be preserved. The rewards for finishing #1 need to be great.

    The #6 seed can be a non major conference team that advances from an 8 team non major bracket. So the scrub teams have a playoff with 1 winner that makes it to the major college football playoff. The #1 seed awaits the lowest seeded winner. The #2 seed awaits the best remaining opponent.

    This keeps the historical significance of the polls intact and creates a special reward for finishing with the best regular season.

    To avoid subjective opinion for the #1-2 seeds, we use a bcs like formula. The 3-5 teams are selected and the 6th is awarded by the play in bracket.

    This format is all things to all people and it allows the scrub teams to have a lucrative bracket with a chance to advance even further.

  24. beanocook says: Aug 25, 2014 4:34 PM

    It also makes who is #1 extremely important. It would prevent a team from sand bagging NFL style in the final week. Or from making what should be a late season game extremely compelling a trivial affair.

    Example: 2006 Ohio State v Michigan, #1 v 2. In the 4 team or god forbid 16 team bracket, the winner or loser of this game has little meaning. You may even get an nfl sandbagging.

    My system has huge rewards for finishing #1, thus this game remains critical and dramatic.

    The NFL NEVER has late season drama among the top teams. Only among 6th and 7ths seeds, or aka the 13th and 14th best teams.

    College football can head this direction. The NFL is for the casual football fan. The bloated middle aged man eating Pizza Hut and bud light. College football is craft beer.

  25. pack13queens0 says: Aug 27, 2014 11:22 PM

    When Wisconsin goes 12-0 & wins the Big Ten Championship for 13-0, they’ll be the #1 seed.

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