CFP executive director Bill Hancock on strength-of-schedule


The contrast is impossible to miss, or ignore, even if your view of the landscape leans purple.

The same day USC plays Texas in the middle leg of the Trojans’ challenging non-conference schedule, Washington plays Fresno State to conclude UW’s parade of creampuffs.

The conference’s top playoff candidates took different paths to building their playoff resumes.

USC: Western Michigan, Texas, Notre Dame.

Washington: Rutgers, Montana, Fresno State.

We’ll start this discussion of schedules — of intent to schedule and actual schedules — with an acknowledgment that results could very well render it moot in a few weeks.

Or it could be relevant until November, then fade to obsolete.

Or it could matter a great deal on the first weekend of December, when the playoff selection committee unveils the semifinalists.

With the contrasting schedules of the Pac-12 division favorites in mind, I sat down with Bill Hancock at the conference’s preseason media event in late July in Los Angeles.

Hancock is the executive director of the College Football Playoff. He’s not on the selection committee and doesn’t have a vote, but he oversees the process and, in fact, helped establish the selection parameters.

Hancock didn’t want to speculate on what might happen to the Trojans and Huskies this season. But in addition to his broader insight into the role schedules play in determining the semifinalists, Hancock had a telling comment or two about UW’s situation last year.

Hotline: To what extent does the committee consider non-conference scheduling intent when it comes to evaluating a team’s resume?

Hancock: “Intent is not a factor, and the committee has talked about it. People say, ‘Well, they couldn’t play so-and-so because so-and-so cancelled the game and they had to go pick up FCS Team Y.’ And the committee says that’s not a factor. We understand and feel bad for them, but the fact is, they had to play that FCS team instead of that great FBS team. The whole thing about the schedule is who you actually play and how you do. Intent is just not a factor.”

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