College football mailbag: Taking a seat with CFP committee, preparing for chaos

Taking a seat with CFP committee, preparing for chaos

Receiver Will Fuller (7) and Notre Dame have gone from No. 5 to No. 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings, right where many experts not on the CFP committee believed the Irish belonged.

(Mel Evans / Associated Press)

Each week during the college football season, national analyst Chris Dufresne will burn a timeout to answer questions and exchange opinions. You can email him at and reach him at @DufresneLATimes on Twitter.


Congrats … you have the best, most accurate CFB rankings for the week. The regular-season finale of Stanford-Notre Dame will be a virtual play-in game … and maybe then, the Pac-12 can get a little more love from CFB committee.

Great job and I hereby nominate you for a spot at the committee table.


Cy Bolton

Thanks Cy, but at this point in my career I’d rather judge a hog-calling contest on the campus of Arkansas.

Or a banana slug race at Santa Cruz.

The College Football Playoff selection committee and I do seem to be on the same wave length. I had Clemson and LSU at No. 1 and No. 2 a week before the first ranking release.


Tuesday, I turned in my weekly ranking with a top four of Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State and Notre Dame just hours before the committee rolled those teams out in the same order.

The committee also moved Stanford up four spots to No. 7, which is closer to where I had the Cardinal last week (sixth).

I’m happy to help committee members Condi Rice, Barry Alvarez and Dr. Tom Osborne anyway I can.

The committee is already well represented, though, by media member Steve Wieberg, formerly of USA Today.

My mission as president of the Football Writers Assn. of America in 2013 was to get one of our members on the selection committee.

Steve was the perfect choice. He was a diligent, thorough writer and reporter for USA Today who is taking the same pride of ownership in his new role with the committee.


I’d rather poke fun at them.



Re: Oregon/Stanford. I kind of see this game as being somewhat similar to when A&M went into Bama with Manziel a few years back.

Big underdog Ducks go into Stanford who has everything on the line and all the pressure, meanwhile Oregon is dripping with talent and offensive firepower and is led by a swashbuckling QB who could end up being lethal.

Off base?

Michael Jelline

I’d say you are “on” base. It’s an interesting analogy. The return of Vernon Adams Jr. at quarterback gives Oregon a legitimate jitterbug in the backfield.

Like Johnny Manziel, who was recruited to Oregon before opting for Texas A&M, what makes Adams great is his unpredictability once a play breaks down.

He’s a contrast to Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, who was very fast but also very smooth and always under control.


Your Alabama/Stanford comparison makes some sense.

In 2012, Manziel and Texas A&M pulled off an incredible upset at Alabama, 29-24, with the kind of performance that probably spurred Nick Saban to want to outlaw up-tempo offenses.

You know, because of the increased danger they pose to players, not because Saban doesn’t like to defend them.

The “Adams” factor will be the key to Oregon’s chances at Stanford. Oregon has averaged 43.7 points in its last three wins. This was the Ducks team I picked to win the Pac-12 North, although the defense is much crummier than I imagined it could be.

I still like Stanford at home, but an upset is possible.


The good news for Stanford is Northwestern hasn’t fallen off the cliff

Nick Ohlig

It’s true. The fate of a team’s title chances are often tied to its opponents. Stanford would not likely be in contention had it lost to Northwestern in the opener and then Northwestern turned out to bad team. Northwestern is 7-2, though, and ranked No. 18. Stanford needs to keep winning and also root for Northwestern.

This kind of stuff only happens in college football, which makes it so much fun.


Poor babies (Stanford). Tell Jeff Long to take a hike. Oh, how is it possible to play when they are usually under the covers? Northwestern was simply a better team and still is.

You are referring to Long’s comments this week the committee does consider the fact that Stanford’s opener at Northwestern was played at 9 a.m. Pacific time.

As someone who used to cover a lot of 9 a.m. body clock starts in the East I can tell you this: I was a wreck. It usually involved getting up at 4 a.m. Pacific time and fighting traffic and then stumbling into the press box three hours before kickoff. I never woke up before the second half, which is what happens to most Pac-12 schools that travel east.

It’s funny how you never see teams from the East playing 8 p.m. kickoffs on the West Coast….


How can SC and Oregon not be in the top 25?

Al Cedro

Easy, Al, not enough writers and coaches voted for them. USC is actually right on the cusp as the Trojans’ point total puts them at No. 26 in both the AP and USA Today coaches’ poll.

I was somewhat surprised USC did not appear in this week’s College Football Playoff ranking, but it’s clear the committee is not ready at this point to promote a three-loss team.

USC might make its case should it prevail at Colorado on Friday night.

After all, Stanford moved up four spots in the ranking after winning at Boulder last Saturday.

And should USC have lost at Colorado by the time you read this, well, never mind.

Oregon is also a curious omission given that the Ducks are a different team with Adams back at quarterback.

The Ducks are still having a tough time overcoming a 42-point home loss to Utah, though. Adams tried to play with his broken finger but was ineffective and was pulled early for Jeff Lockie, who finished up one of the worst home defeats in recent Oregon history.


I enjoyed your piece in today’s LA Times on the failure of Clemson footballers to recognize the name Jim Brown. Still it’s not really a newsworthy event.

When I finally stopped teaching at age 76, most of my students didn’t know whether Kipling was an author or a gerund…they didn’t even know what a gerund was…

Stephen L. Glass

John A. McCarthy Professor Emeritus of Classics & Classical Archaeology

Pitzer College

Ha. Everyone knows a gerund is a noun named from a verb by adding “ing.”

It’s been a basic part of my understanding since this morning when I looked it up on

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