Barry Jackson

Why the Hurricanes are ranked behind four one-loss teams and the people who put them there

The unbeaten Miami Hurricanes are ranked only seventh in the College Football Playoff rankings, behind four teams with one loss.
The unbeaten Miami Hurricanes are ranked only seventh in the College Football Playoff rankings, behind four teams with one loss. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Wednesday:

University of Miami receiver Ahmmon Richards said Wednesday that "I don't think people fully believe in us yet. That's for us to go out and prove and keep doing it."

Count members of the College Football Playoff committee among those who don’t appear to believe much in UM.

How else would you explain unbeaten Miami beinag ranked seventh in the latest rankings released Tuesday night, behind four teams with one loss? Unbeaten Wisconsin is eighth, while the other two undefeated Power 5 teams - Georgia and Alabama - are ranked first and second.

It’s easy enough to explain UM being ranked behind No. 3 Notre Dame, considering the Fighting Irish’s only loss is to unbeaten Georgia and considering Notre Dame’s average point differential is plus 22.9, which is sixth in the country, compared with Miami’s plus 11.9, which is 19th.

But how can the committee justify ranking UM behind No. 4 Clemson, which lost to five-loss Syracuse, or behind No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 6 TCU, which both lost to a three-loss Iowa State team.

The committee hasn’t explained the rationale for that, but here are the likely factors with each:

1) Clemson: While UM has beaten only one team currently in the CFP top 25 (No. 17 Virginia Tech), Clemson has defeated three: No. 10 Auburn (14-6), at Virginia Tech (31-17) and at No. 23 North Carolina State (38-31).

Though margin of victory isn’t supposed to be a consideration, Clemson ranks 12th in the nation with a plus-17.8 average point differential. That assuredly affects the committee’s perception of the teams.

Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich is on the committee but isn’t permitted to rank his own team. Nevertheless, it’s natural to wonder whether his presence makes other committee members subconsciously more inclined to elevate Clemson in the rankings.

It’s also natural to wonder whether the Tigers’ enormous success in recent years – including the national title last season – also is helping them, even though that is not supposed to be considered.

2) Oklahoma: Though the Sooners have the one loss to Iowa State, they’ve beaten two teams currently in the CFP top 25: No. 13 Ohio State (31-16) and at No. 15 Oklahoma State (62-52). Their 14.8 average point differential is tied with TCU for 14th in the country, ahead of UM’s 11.9.

But should that be enough to rank the Sooners ahead of UM? That’s highly questionable.

3) TCU: The fact the one-loss Horned Frogs were ranked ahead of the Hurricanes is the most questionable of all of these slights to Miami, considering UM is unbeaten and both teams have the same number of wins against current Top 25 CFP teams.

TCU beat No. 15 Oklahoma State, 44-31. But UM beat No. 17 Virginia Tech by a slightly larger margin.

All of this won’t be an issue if UM wins out. But it could be an issue in one-loss scenarios. In that case, UM potentially could be ranked behind a one-loss Oklahoma or one-loss TCU team, which wouldn’t seem particularly fair. Those two Big 12 teams play Saturday night on Fox, opposite UM-Notre Dame on ABC.

Do players discuss UM’s ranking among themselves?

"We try to leave that alone, not worry about that," defensive tackle Richard McIntosh Jr. said. "We understand it's out of our control."

▪ Here are the CFP committee members this season: Texas Tech and former UM athletic director Kirby Hocutt, former Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, former Southern Mississippi coach Jeff Bower, former Central Michigan coach Herb Deromedi, Robert Morris president Chris Howard (a Rhodes scholar who attended Harvard and Oxford), former NCAA executive vice president Tim Jernstedt, former Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson, Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long, Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, former Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham, former USA Today writer Steve Wieberg and Clemson AD Radakovich.

Two members of the 2016 committee are no longer involved: Barry Alvarez and Condeleeza Rice.

▪  Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said former starting cornerback Dee Delaney, who missed nearly a month with a knee injury, played on the last series against Virginia Tech.

Did he not play more because of UM’s trust in Michael Jackson, Malek Young and Trajan Bandy?

"It was more about where Dee was at in this process and make sure he gained confidence in the game," Diaz said.

Will he have a bigger role this week? "We'll see," Diaz said.

▪  Tight end Chris Herndon assuredly has impressed NFL scouts with touchdown plays of 51 and 46 yards the past two weeks. Did that pleasantly surprise coach Mark Richt?

"Very versatile kid," Richt said. "So proud of him. Also a very good run and pass blocker. He can play fullback. He can spread out. We're finding ways to get it to him."

▪ With defensive end Demetrius Jackson out for the year with a knee injury, look for freshman Jonathan Garvin to have a greater role Saturday against Notre Dame.

Garvin is skilled pass rusher, and Diaz said he has improved against the run.

"He’s intelligent, he's diligent, he takes the job very seriously," Diaz said.

▪ Cornerback Michael Jackson said "all of my family back home" informed him when ABC’s Kirk Herbstreit called him one of the best cornerbacks in the country during last Saturday’s UM-Virginia Tech telecast.

Jackson isn’t surprised he’s gone from toward the bottom of the depth chart to a starter on an undefeated team.

"In the offseason, I pictured being in this exact moment," he said. "Today, I'm Michael Jackson, the great DB. But if it have a bad game or don't practice to the best of my ability, I could be back to what I was."

Here is my Wednesday post with news regarding a Heat draft pick.

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