As you might imagine, CFP committee chair Rob Mullens was asked a few questions about Tua Tagovailoa and Alabama on this week’s teleconference. Full transcript can be found here, but these are the highlights:
Q. What did the committee have to say about the injury to Tua?
ROB MULLENS: Well, obviously we spent considerable time talking about it. Glad he’s on his way to recovering. But Alabama had a convincing win at the end of the day. Understanding that he went out at the end of the second quarter, but it still was a convincing win, so it didn’t impact the rankings this week.
Q. Kind of following up on the question regarding Tua, this is a relatively unique situation. I get Cardale Jones is the only comparable situation like this before. Has there been any talk in the committee room or was there any talk about how Alabama will be evaluated moving forward knowing that Tua Tagovailoa is not going to be there?
ROB MULLENS: No, we do not project, we do not look forward. Our charge is to rank the teams based on their body of work through week 12, and that’s what we did. Obviously we’ll watch the games moving forward and evaluate them after that.
Q. But my next question would then be when you evaluate Alabama as a whole, how do you sort of balance Alabama pre-Tua -- both pre-injury with what they’ve done, and how do you reconcile that with what potentially they would do the final two games? How do you balance those two sort of different teams, if you will, out?
ROB MULLENS: Just like we would any team that has key injuries. We are aware of who’s available in what games, and we make an evaluation based on watching the games and the results.
So, as we expected, the committee acted appropriately by not trying to predict how Alabama will perform without Tua. Alabama has earned the fifth spot thus far in the opinion of the members, and the way they play the last two games of the season will determine whether they have an opportunity to make the playoff.
Mullens was also asked about the comparison between Alabama and the Pac 12 contenders.
Q. Regardless of Tua’s injury at quarterback for Alabama, is there still -- how close is that between Oregon’s resume and Alabama’s resume, and is Utah a factor at all in that discussion between those two?
ROB MULLENS: Well, sure. I mean, teams 5 through 7 -- obviously when you look at Alabama, outstanding play. Their only loss is to the No. 1 team in the country, and in every other game they’ve had convincing wins. Oregon is a team that’s won nine in a row, good road wins against ranked Southern Cal, at Washington, quality quarterback play, undefeated in the conference, only loss on a neutral field to Auburn. And then Utah, really strong defense, only loss is to No. 23 USC, and that’s what separated them from Oregon, and when they lost to USC, Zack Moss, their elite running back, missed most of that game.
Q. Following up on that, I wanted to ask you more about USC and what the committee liked about them this week.
ROB MULLENS: Well, they beat No. 7 Utah, which is impressive, and when you look at the opponents that they’ve lost to, those opponents have a record of 29- 11. So they’ve challenged themselves in the nonconference with Notre Dame and BYU, so that impressed the committee.
This is where it gets a bit circular. “Ranked” USC was mentioned as a feather in the cap of Oregon and a quality loss for Utah, but the committee decides who is ranked and who isn’t. Also, the committee being “impressed” because they scheduled, and lost to, a juggernaut BYU squad that has losses to South Florida and Toledo is kind of odd. To be clear, it isn’t unreasonable to rank USC at #23, but they are in fact a four loss squad with losses to unranked teams, so no one should get a terrible amount of credit for playing them.
People will read into these comments based on their viewpoint. If they believe the committee is fair and has acted transparently, then Alabama has a legitimate chance. If they think that Oregon AD Mullens is injecting west coast bias into the brains of the voters, then they will look at the USC situation and Utah’s Zack Moss caveat as a harbinger for the Pac 12 champion inevitably moving up.
From Alabama’s standpoint, nothing much has changed. They have to control what they can, which is their own performance on the field, and then as we like to say around here hope for the best.
Feel free to share your thoughts on Mullens’ comments below.