Stanford coach David Shaw: CFP should look at full schedules

ByHeather Dinich ESPN logo
Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Stanford coach David Shaw said the College Football Playoff selection committee should pay greater attention to when teams have byes during the season, and how the entire schedule is laid out.

Shaw, who sat down with ESPN on Tuesday for a wide-ranging interview, said he has thought a lot about the playoff this summer. He has spoken with several committee members this offseason, and CFP executive director Bill Hancock on Monday.

"How the schedule lays out may be more important than strength of schedule," Shaw said. "What I mean by that is, if you look at USC last year, to play 11 straight games without a bye -- all Division I opponents, no I-AA opponents, and play right into the Pac-12 championship game and win that one -- that to me is more impressive than just having a strong schedule but then having a Week 7 bye, or a Week 8 I-AA opponent, which kind of gives you a break."

Last season was the first since 1995 that USC played the entire regular season without a bye week. Its two losses were on the road -- a Friday night at Washington State, and Oct. 21 at Notre Dame. In spite of beating Stanford for the Pac-12 title, USC finished No. 8, right behind three-loss Auburn, which had a bye week between back-to-back road games against Arkansas and Texas A&M.

The difference was that Auburn earned two November wins against the committee's No. 1 teams in Georgia and Alabama.

Hancock said Tuesday the 13-member committee does consider more than just who a team played and where the game was.

"The matter of analyzing teams is complex, and the committee goes through great lengths in comparing teams in many respects, in comparing the data and also in comparing schedules," Hancock said. "The committee certainly considers every aspect of a team's schedule, including the sequencing of games, sequence of opponents, and sequence of open dates."

Shaw said his view on scheduling is "a new way of looking at it."

"I think looking at how difficult it is for the student-athletes to play consecutive weeks and then, we're one of the few conferences that will play a significant number of Friday night games," he said, adding that the Friday night road winning percentages are "very, very low."

"Those combinations of things really have to be taken into account, and I think that will honestly bump up our conference to a certain degree because it's not just how hard the schedule is, who you play, it's when you play who you play."