ATHENS — Some of the controversy surrounding the College Football Playoff Committee died down when Georgia fell to Texas in the Sugar Bowl by a 28-21 count.
The Bulldogs, of course, played the Longhorns without their top defensive back (Thorpe Award winner Deandre Baker), sacks leader (All-SEC pick D’Andre Walker) and best interior defensive lineman (Freshman All-American Jordan Davis).
There was still plenty of conversation at the CFP Media Day in San Jose, with director Bill Hancock defending his committee and the four-team playoff.
Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin weighed in on his involvement as a member of the CFP in a GatorSports.com story published on Thursday.
“The people in that room really take that role seriously,” Stricklin said. “Watched a lot of football and tried to make sure we were fair to all the teams.”
Many, most notably ESPN GameDay analyst Kirk Herbstreit, were vocal that Georgia was deserving of one of four CFP Playoff slots.
The Bulldogs finished the regular season 11-1 and faced No. 1 Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, leading throughout most of the game before falling 35-28.
Herbstreit said the committee let politics keep Georgia out, and said on Twitter the loss shouldn’t have eliminated Georgia from the discussion.
UGA you go play Bama.
Ohio St you go play Northwestern
OU you go play Texas.
Seriously, you think that’s even?? UGA was up 28-14 about to go up 35-14-outplayed Bama for 50 of the 60 minutes and went in to the weekend #3!
Losses like that aren’t equal to others. https://t.co/fSeKBgedTH
— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) December 30, 2018
Stricklin, who along with Georgia Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury began his 3-year term on the 13-member committee this year, said the decisions were made without regard to conference affiliation.
Stricklin is one of the most trusted and well-liked administrators in the SEC, but that didn’t make hearing the criticism any easier for him.
“It’s frustrating any time people want to assume intent,” Stricklin said. “In that room, the integrity piece is really important, doing what’s right and not because of the conference you represent or what’s best for your own school. Doing what’s fair for the teams under consideration.”
Hancock said he’s confident the committee does that, and ESPN analyst Chris Fowler agreed, but understands why the speculation will continue.
“There’s always potential, people will never believe that any committee can check it’s bias at the door,” Fowler said. (But) I do give them the benefit of the doubt, and I think what they’ve produced in the first five years are pretty sound brackets that for me don’t speak of bias.”
“Transparency is an interesting idea, I don’t know how much it would change the process to say, ‘Hey, this guy voted these four in this order, this guy voted this way,’ “ he said. “Like any process, they would find the secret ballot to be valuable, because it gets so personal. Say a given committee member voted Oklahoma 5, not 4, now they become a public target.
“I understand where you could say that’s part of the job, but I don’t know the nature of the narrative these days, it doesn’t help me to know which guy voted which way. The bottom line is 13 people put together their minds and they came up with this list.”
While some will continue to point to Georgia’s loss to Texas in the Sugar Bowl as evidence the committee got it right, not everyone sees it that way.
“Those kids from Georgia didn’t all want to be there,” an SEC defensive coordinator told DawgNation this week. “That was obvious, and anyone that knows anything about football could see that.”
Georgia football’s great CFB Playoff debate