Kirk Herbstreit: CFP committee let politics keep Georgia football out of playoff

ATHENS — ESPN College GameDay analyst Kirk Herbstreit went on an epic rant on Tuesday making a strong case that Georgia football should have been included in the College Football Playoff.

It was a given that No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson and No. 3 Notre Dame — all undefeated teams — would all hold their spots in the four-team CFB Playoff field.

The debate was over whether No. 4 Georgia (11-2) should hold its spot ahead of Big 12 champ Oklahoma (12-1) and Big Ten champ Ohio State (12-1) after the Bulldogs 35-28 last-minute loss to the Crimson Tide last Saturday.

Herbstreit made his case on the Paul Finebaum Show on the SEC Network:

“Who had the toughest strength of schedule? Georgia. Who had the best offensive efficiency? Georgia. Best defensive efficiency? Georgia. Game control? Georgia. Eyeball test? Georgia. What’s left?”

Herbstreit concluded that the 13-member committee, chaired by Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens, had let down college football by allowing politics to affect their decision as to who the best four teams are.

“It’s the first time the committee let the politics of the conferences, the Power 5 conferences and their commissioners, and having to face them, they finally let them affect doing the right thing.”

The committee added six new members this year:

• Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione

• Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin

• Georgia Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury.

• Paola Boivin, Professor, Arizona State, former sportswriter

• Ken Hatfield, former head coach

• Ronnie Lott, Former NFL and college player, USC

Carryover members of the committee:

• Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith

• Frank Beamer, former Virginia Tech coach, CFB Hall of Famer

• Jeff Bower, former Southern Miss coach

• Herb Deromedi, former Central Michigan coach

• Chris Howard, President, Robert Morris University

• Bobby Johnson, former Vanderbilt head coach

• Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens

Herbstreit said he believes the committee, in their hearts, “had to know Georgia is one of the best four teams” and left the Bulldogs out, anyway.

Here’s the transcript of what Herbstreit said:

“For the first four years of this I’ve always defended the committee, they’ve taken some criticism from some people who didn’t understand what they did. I loved that they were willing to go against the grain the first year in ’14 when Ohio State won 59-0 (in the Big Ten title game) with a third string quarterback and they bumped Ohio State two spots over both (BIg12 co-champs) Baylor and TCU and put them into the top four, and they went on to win the national championship.

“In ’16 Ohio State again in the crosshairs, they lost to Penn State head to head and didn’t even go to Indianapolis and yet they thought Ohio State was a better team they put them into the playoffs that year

“Last year Alabama didn’t make it to Atlanta (SEC championship Game), they lost in the Iron Bowl, but at the end of the day they felt Alabama was still a better team, so they put them in using the metrics and their own eyes to say Bama was still a better team, and Bama went on to the national title.

“So we came into this year with that as our backdrop, and I bragged on this committee because their willingness to not be like the old school AP voter, or a Coaches’ Poll, and we got into this year and If felt for the last five for six weeks that this Georgia team — and I didn’t go to Georgia, I’m not from the SEC — do you know who I’m loyal to? College football. Not the Big Ten, not Ohio State, not Georgia, when it comes to my job, I’m loyal and have a passion to college football, and I want to see the four best teams get their chance, because that’s what’s right, and that’s what’s fair.

“Now, it’s subjective, everyone is entitled to who they think is the best, I’m not pushing for an agenda, Im not pushing for Ohio State to make it as a fan, I’m pushing for what’s right,   and what’s right is how can you watch Georgia be No. 4 and then go out and play the No. 1-ranked team, and not only hang around with them, but control them, for much of the game until Jalen Hurts decides to write a Hollywood script and come back and knock off Georgia.

“And now we’re supposed to say Georgia, for that performance, you went from No. 4, you’re going backwards? To me, if anything, they should have gone up to No. 3, not backwards to No. 5.

“It’s the first time the committee let the politics of the conferences, the Power 5 conferences and their commissioners, and having to face them, they finally let them affect doing the right thing.

“I think Notre Dame getting into the Top 4 was the reason. You put Notre Dame in there into the Top 4, and you have Alabama in the SEC, and Clemson in the ACC, you still have three Power 5 conferences (not in).

“And now they (committee members) have to look around at each other and say:   ‘Hey guys Georgia is probably the fourth-best team, but the puts two from the SEC in, we’re going to leave three Power 5 conferences out, we can’t do that, there’s no way we can do that, we have to come up with … they have two losses, that’s what it is, they have two losses, they lost in Baton Rouge.” Which, by the way, no one wins in Baton Rouge except Alabama, and they lost to Alabama. “And they lost to Alabama, they didn’t win their conference championship, that will do it.”

“That’s what they hung their hat on, knowing, in their heart, they had to know Georgia is one of the best four teams. Georgia gets the short end of the stick.

“Oklahoma is going to compete, it’s not like they can’t go and compete with Alabama. I’m just frustrated because the message getting sent to ADs: don’t schedule anybody, stay undefeated, win games, because that’s all the committee thinks about, they don’t take into consideration how tough your schedule is.

“Who had the toughest strength of schedule? Georgia. Who had the best offensive efficiency? Georgia. Best defensive efficiency? Georgia. Game control? Georgia. Eyeball test? Georgia. What’s left?

“So politics for the first time in five years got the best of the committee.”

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