Washington State was a bit higher than the Hotline expected in the first selection committee rankings (No. 8) and a bit lower than expected in the penultimate version (No. 13).
The latter is the topic of the first emergency podcast in Hotline history:
Are the Cougars getting … err, are they being treated unfairly by the committee?
They dropped five spots as a result of the Apple Cup loss and need a last-minute shift in sentiment to climb into the New Year’s Six.
They’re six spots behind the only other two-loss team from the Power Five (Michigan), and they’re behind four three-loss teams.
One of those teams, Washington, is a no-brainer: UW just won the head-to-head showdown by 13 points in Pullman with the division on the line.
Nobody is making the case WSU should be ahead of the Huskies.
But athletic director Pat Chun and coach Mike Leach are not happy about being slotted behind Florida, LSU and Penn State — all three-loss teams that, like WSU, are not division champs.
Chun and Leach went public with their case, in the form of a USA Today article that was published on Wednesday.
The Hotline drilled down on the issue this morning in a 20-minute conversation with Stewart Mandel, editor-in-chief of The Athletic’s college football site and as close to an expert on the selection process as you can be without actually having committee experience.
Bottom line: Mandel is a bit confused about the treatment of the Cougars, as well.
“There’s something else going on there,” Mandel said. “I don’t know what it is about that team that they don’t like.”
Is it all about WSU’s weak non-conference schedule?
Or Washington’s loss to Auburn?
Or the Pac-12’s poor overall performance in intersectional games?
Could the former head coaches on the committee be anti-Air Raid?
(My assessment can be found here.)
We ended the conversation with a look to this weekend:
Is there a path for the Cougars into the New Year’s Six and does it depend on Utah winning the Pac-12 title?
“The committee would have to have a last-minute change of heart, which isn’t unprecedented,” he said.
That change would most likely involve WSU’s profile relative to that of three-loss Penn State and not three-loss LSU or Florida.
The Nittany Lions lost to both Michigan and Ohio State and have no wins over teams in the committee’s top 25.
But they played a much stronger non-conference schedule than the Cougars.
“They clearly could not have much less respect for the Pac-12,” Mandel said.
(That cannot be argued at this point.)
Please enjoy, and thanks to Mandel for joining me at the last minute.
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