Playoff committee holds first vote

GRAPEVINE, Texas - The 12 members of the College Football Playoff selection committee met for the first time Monday at the Gaylord Texan resort, where they debated the merits of the top teams in the country and cast their historic votes for the inaugural playoff.

Committee chair Jeff Long said the group did not determine its top four teams, and he wouldn't talk specifically about any teams until the first Top 25 ranking is revealed Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).

College football playoff executive director Bill Hancock called Monday's meeting "a very important milestone, not only for the playoff, but also the game of college football."

"This is a truly historic day in college football," Hancock said. "Twenty years from now we will all look back and say we were here on the first meeting of the selection committee. When we took the first vote today, we looked at each other and said we have just taken the first vote in the history of the college football playoff. It was really, really a cool thing."

Before they began, though, they had to check their biases at the door.

There is a coat rack just outside the committee's meeting room, and each committee member was given a white hat with his or her last name on it as a reminder to hang up their allegiances before they enter the room. While there is a recusal policy in place, one of the biggest questions facing the group has been whether or not they would be able to be objective in spite of longtime loyalties to particular schools.

"Those hats will be posted outside that door for every time we go in, and it's to remind us we're leaving those things outside and we're acting within the best interest of college football, and we're checking those things at the door," Long said. "While it is somewhat humorous, there's a point to it."

That's where the jokes ended.

Long said the mood of the room was "much more intense, much more deliberate, much more step-by-step analysis of teams and a much more serious environment" than when the committee did its mock selections this past summer.

"You can feel the seriousness of what we're doing is in that room and wasn't there for our mocks," he said.

On Monday, Long opened the meeting by encouraging everyone to speak up and speak often. He said that wasn't a problem, as they were all engaged in lively conversation and had strong views. The committee began its meeting by reviewing the "how to select the best four teams" document that was unanimously adopted by the commissioners in June 2012.

Each committee member has been designated a point-person for a conference, and before they cast any votes, they each gave a report on their respective conferences. Long said that in general, the committee has been focusing more on teams and less on conferences.

There are only two undefeated teams Power 5 teams remaining -- Mississippi State and Florida State -- but there are 18 one-loss teams for the committee to sort through. When asked what the biggest source of debate was on Monday, Long said it was really about comparisons of defenses and offenses.

"Comparisons of different defenses in different conferences," he said. "There was a lot of discussion about how defenses would stack up playing certain types of offenses that another team might run. That was a lot of discussion. Then there was a lot of debate in looking at the data, the relative defensive data and offensive data and how that played out."

Long reminded the committee members of the five main criteria -- strength of schedule, head-to-head matchups, records against common opponents, conference championships and injuries -- but stressed they are not weighted or in any priority.

Long said the group voted "a number of times" on Monday.

"Whatever decisions we make tomorrow in our first release of rankings, those will undoubtedly change," Long said. " ... Our rankings will change and that's important for everyone to remember."

Tuesday will be the first of seven public rankings for the committee, with the final verdict coming on Dec. 7. The No. 1 seed will face No. 4, and No. 2 will play No. 3 in a national semifinal.

Long said that when he gives his report on ESPN on Tuesday, he intends to be "specific and concrete."

"It's important everyone associated with the game have a good understanding of why we're making the rankings we are," he said, "and I take that responsibility seriously."