Just minutes after the College Football Playoff rankings were announced, Kirby Hocutt addressed an ESPN pannel and explained what went into putting Alabama at No. 1, Clemson at No. 2, Ohio State at No. 3 and Washington at No. 4, while leaving Penn State out.
The major questions revolved around putting the Huskies over the Nittany Lions.
Hocutt said the committee had “spirited discussions” and “detailed, difficult conversations” until about 1:30 a.m. ET on Sunday, hashing out the difference between the two conference champions.
What it came down to, Hocutt said, was that the committee simply thought the Huskies were a better team than the Lions.
Hocutt noted that the Huskies’ one loss against a Top-10 opponent versus the Lions’ two losses — a blowout and to an 8-4 team — helped to differentiate the teams, as well as talking to coaches on what they saw, which favored the Pac-12 squad.
The committee chairman also said that if the Huskies’ schedule had been tougher, it wouldn’t have been such a tough decision. Reece Davis then asked him about the weak non-conference schedule, and Hocutt said it was a concern, but the Huskies’ wins over Top 25-teams in Stanford and Utah, as will as over Washington State and then Colorado in the Pac-12 Championship, helped a lot.
When he asked asked about the value of a conference championship, Hocutt said, “Conference championships are hard to win.” But he then noted that they are also only one piece of the metrics that the committee uses.
Their mission was simple, to select the four “very best teams in college football,” he said.