Earlier this year, College Football Playoff Executive Director Bill Hancock invited Gary Stokan to Grapevine, Texas, to sit in the committee room and observe a mock selection process.
Stokan left extremely impressed.
“I have a greater appreciation for what those guys go through,” the Peach Bowl president and CEO said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I can only imagine watching those games Friday and Saturday night and then talking about them, getting in that room and working through (them) – it has to be very difficult. The term ‘razor thin’ is used a lot, but they have a ton of analytics that they look at. I was very impressed with the process.”
Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Washington were selected for this year’s playoff. Alabama and Washington will square off in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 31 at 3 p.m. ET.
“I think they got it right,” Stokan said. “I know there’s always going to be someone disappointed. When you have four, 5 and 6 are going to be disappointed. When you have eight, 9 and 10 are going to be disappointed. If you had 16, the same thing. You can go any which way with Penn State, with Michigan, with Ohio State, but I think they got it right. Having sat there in that room without the pressure they have of finally making a decision, I have a great appreciation of the process.”
The process, as one would imagine, is complex.
“You come into the room with your top 30 teams, and everybody (puts their) top six in,” Stokan explained. “Whoever the computer says is the top three based on your votes, they become one, two and three. The three teams that aren’t selected go back up on the board. Then they say bring your next three teams forward, so you bring your next three. It’s really interesting. You look at it in pods, and it really helps you get it right rather than looking at 25 teams (all at once). It’s really a good process. Ultimately, when you get down to your top 25, then you print it out and you look at it and you say, ‘Now wait a minute, this team beat this team, and this team beat this team.’ So then that’s when you adjust.”
If one person sees an issue, though, he or she must convince at least three other committee members to get a revote.
“So you have to sell three other people at least to say we’ll revote,” Stokan said. “It’s a negotiation and some selling in there. You have to feel strong. I think the conference championships, the head-to-head, the strength of schedule all become the tiebreakers at the end of the day. Those committee members jobs are to get the four best teams. That came into play this year probably more than the first two years.”