The day was filled with discussion and analysis during the College Football Playoff Selection Day presented by AT&T, featuring the announcement of the teams participating in the two Playoff Semifinals – the Capital One Orange Bowl and the Goodyear Cotton Bowl – as well as teams selected for the other four New Year’s Six bowls (Allstate Sugar Bowl, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual, BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl) and the final Top 25 rankings.
ESPN’s Rece Davis hosted the four-hour show with analysts Joey Galloway, Kirk Herbstreit, David Pollack and Danny Kanell, along with appearances from Paul Finebaum, Chris Fowler and Jesse Palmer. Davis spoke with College Football Playoff Committee Chair Jeff Long, who will appear twice in the four-hour span.
Top-4 Seed Quotes
I think the Oklahoma-Clemson game has a chance to be a very intriguing game because of the quarterback play, the way they’ll spread you out, the chance they’ll be able to put points up on the board. It’s going to be a shootout. Very different, kind of a contrast in styles in these semifinal games.
Who does a better job in big games, playing with a chip on their shoulder than [Michigan State head coach Mark] Dantonio. Last seven matchups vs. top 5 opponents, he’s 6-1. And what are we going to hear for the next 20-something days? ‘Michigan State has no shot.’ It works perfect for Michigan State and Dantonio, and how they function the best.
In college football with long layoffs, motivation becomes kind of the secret ingredient. Whoever has a team that shows up early to look at film, that doesn’t complain about practice, that is focused, that is locked in… that’s the team that has the edge.
Top-25 Rankings Quotes
Top 3 teams in game control metrics are in the Playoffs. Number 4? Tennessee
[Iowa] still didn’t beat Michigan State, but the respect that they received for going undefeated [in regular season], getting into the Big 10 championship, and playing the game down to the wire… to keep them still ranked at number five is very impressive by the committee.
I had my questions about Iowa all year. It wasn’t necessarily about them but it was more about who they have beaten and are they that good. I probably gained more respect [for them] in the Big Ten Championship than in the previous 12 games they played…
You know fans will carry this argument on Big 12 vs SEC. Everyone wants their shot at the SEC teams. Huge chance for Oklahoma State to make a statement for the Big 12.
Think about what Florida State lost from Jameis Winston and all of the other players. A new era, considered a down year, 10-2, chance to get to the Peach Bowl – that’s a pretty good year.
Committee Chair Jeff Long
Why Michigan State over Oklahoma?
That’s probably where we spent the most time, as you would expect, and great discussion great debate. Both conference champions both four wins over top 25 teams but what it came down to was really Michigan St with two top 10 wins and then adding win over last week’s number 4 ranked team. So I think when you look at the body of work, the complete resume, that’s what pushed Mich St just slightly ahead of Oklahoma.
Reason Stanford is ranked higher with two losses than a one-loss Ohio State
Stanford’s number of wins they have compared to Ohio State’s full body of work is impressive in Stanford’s favor.
Which matchups caused the most debate for the committee
We look strongly at that head to head. In the Northwestern-Michigan game case it’s a significant head to head win by Michigan, but they are one spot below Northwestern… caused committee most consternation.
Onsite ESPN Reporters
20,000 strong here at Clemson Memorial stadium. 2,500 pizzas provided by Papa John’s cut into eight slices from 10 different franchises in five different towns, all feeding and serving the frenzy of Clemson faithful. All Dabo Swinney’s brain-child to say we are going to celebrate whether we win or lose. Obviously tastes a lot better here because they are going to celebrating as conference champions.
We are here in Tuscaloosa and there’s just not much to see. I know it is so cliché to say, but it is business as usual here in Tuscaloosa and I don’t think that’s a surprise to anybody. We had to turn the lights on for ourselves when we came in at about 5 a.m. to the facility.
Last year when they did have a watch party, Nick Saban told his team before they found out they were the No. 1 ranked team, ‘act like you’ve been there before’. Well now they’ve been there before, there’s no acting here.
Think about this. A guy who is possibly up for the Heisman is also up for the walk-on of the year. [referencing Baker Mayfield]
Behind me you will see a wall with placards on it. Each one of those placards represents a Michigan State opponent in 2015. Typically players sign those placards after victories, but over the last two weeks coach [Mark] Dantonio has had them sign them before they ever take the field of play. Why? Accountability, own it, be it, put your name on it. They have put their name on the Iowa placard and that means these men have put their name on the college football playoff.
ESPN’s coverage of the 2015 college football season culminates with the College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T on Monday, Jan. 11.
ESPN and the College Football Playoff
ESPN has an exclusive 12-year agreement through 2026 with the College Football Playoff to televise the national championship game and semifinals, as well as the four bowl games comprising the New Year’s Six rotation to host the semifinals. In 2015, the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship garnered the most-watched and highest-rated telecast in the history of cable television. All games are featured across ESPN platforms including ESPN, ESPN Radio, ESPN Mobile TV and via WatchESPN on computers, smartphones, tablets and Xbox LIVE. Additionally, ESPN can distribute the matchups on numerous platforms and around the world via ESPN International.