The contending Cubs dropped two of three in a series against Pittsburgh this week. Following the Pirates’ 8-6 win on Thursday at Wrigley Field, Ross said: “That’s not a good team that just took two out of three from us — or not our caliber team, I believe.”
Shelton called Ross’ comment ” unfortunate.”
“I texted Shelton last night, like ‘Hey, just frustrated after a game,'” Ross told reporters before Saturday’s game against Colorado. “I’ve got a ton of respect for every team we play, not just Pittsburgh. Every team can win. I thought I corrected myself within the context of talking to you guys.”
Chicago went 10-3 against Pittsburgh this season, outscoring the Pirates 101-49. Ross said he was talking more about how his team had played against Pittsburgh this year.
“I think Derek and that crew over there has done a really nice job,” Ross said. “Part of this job, you’re not always going to be perfect in these meetings and sometimes after a game, postgame, you’re going to say things that probably don’t come out the right way.”
‘Holy s—, this is really going to suck to do this’: Inside the CFP committee’s most controversial decision
GRAPEVINE, Texas — It was between 1:30 and 2 a.m. CT on Sunday after the conference championship games when the 13 members of the College Football Playoff selection committee finally left their meeting room. They had been sequestered for hours as they determined the top four teams in the country.
They knew what they could potentially wind up with — and it didn’t feel good.
As difficult as it was for them to remove their emotions from the process, the sinking feeling about excluding an undefeated Power 5 conference champion was tempered by the belief that they did what they were tasked to do — vote for the four best teams.
“All of us had the emotional tie, like, ‘Holy s—, this is really going to suck to do this,'” one committee member told ESPN. “We talked about that over and over, and we just kept coming back [to] are they good enough with what they have to win a national championship, and it just kept coming back [to] we didn’t think they could.”
There wasn’t any discussion about the SEC being left out because the committee maintains that it talks about teams, not conferences. There wasn’t any serious consideration to include Alabama without Texas because there was so much respect in the room for the Longhorns’ Week 2 win in Tuscaloosa. There also wasn’t enough support in the room to deem Georgia “unequivocally” one of the four best teams in the country — the standard for teams that don’t win their conference title.
Instead, the crux of the debate into the wee hours of Sunday morning centered on how to evaluate Florida State, which beat Louisville with its third-string quarterback after both Jordan Travis and his backup, Tate Rodemaker, were sidelined by injuries. While the Seminoles’ defense impressed the committee — and had all year — there were significant concerns about FSU’s offense.
Undefeated Michigan had won the Big Ten. Undefeated Washington won the Pac-12. Alabama knocked off the selection committee’s No. 1 team, Georgia, to win the SEC, and one-loss Texas, which easily won the Big 12, had knocked off the SEC champion in September.
And now Florida State had found a way to win — again.
It was the final layer of complication in what was already the most difficult, controversial decision any CFP committee has had to make in a decade of the four-team playoff. Never before has an undefeated Power 5 conference champion been excluded from the CFP — but never before have seven Power 5 teams finished the regular season with one or fewer losses. “We’ve never had a year with eight teams at the top as good as these are, and the five conference champions 1 through 5, we’ve never had it come out that way,” CFP executive director Bill Hancock said. “My feeling is it probably was the toughest.”
FOR 2½ DAYS on conference championship game weekend, the CFP’s selection committee hid in plain sight.
While families clad in Christmas-themed clothes infiltrated the sprawling Gaylord Texan resort for its annual ice sculpture exhibit, the most powerful people in college football went nearly unnoticed, save for one cardboard sign bearing the CFP logo that some fans paused to look at as they exited the elevator and headed to their rooms.
“Is Bama in?!” one man asked a security guard sitting on a stool outside the meeting rooms Saturday night after the Tide’s SEC championship win against No. 1 Georgia.
The guard just shrugged.
As it turned out, one-loss Bama was in — at the expense of undefeated ACC champion Florida State. It was an unprecedented decision that sparked outrage throughout the sport. FSU coach Mike Norvell said he was “disgusted and infuriated.” ACC commissioner Jim Phillips said, “It’s unfathomable.” Travis, the Seminoles’ injured quarterback, said he wished he had broken his leg earlier in the season so the committee could have seen that the team was still great without him.
The committee is steadfast in its belief it got the decision right.
“At the end of the day, everybody had the same goal in mind — do we have the four best teams?” a committee member said. “And we all felt pretty good that we do.”
It wasn’t until the ACC championship game began to unfold, though, that the members’ opinions began to truly take shape. The group grew concerned as it watched the Noles struggle to get a first down in the first half. There is a section in the committee’s protocol that specifically refers to the “unavailability of key players … that may have affected a team’s performance during the season or likely will affect its postseason performance.” That allowed the committee to do something it intentionally avoids every other week: look ahead.
“People really wanted to talk about it,” a committee member said. “We don’t really have that conversation while we’re watching games. But we’ve got to talk about the elephant in the room. What just happened? We talked about 13-0. We talked about the teams they beat. And they were a conference champ. All of that. It took a while.”
Hancock rarely, if ever, shares voting results with the people in the room, though sometimes he’ll mention if they were close or not. The votes are cast privately on each committee member’s laptop. The committee members simply hover their mouse over a team and click to vote. If a committee member is recused from voting for a certain team, it’s shaded in gray on his or her laptop, making it impossible to click on.
They vote on the teams in small batches and continue through the process of voting and debating in groups until the entire list of 25 is compiled. So it’s not as if they begin talking about Texas and Alabama and vote around them to make it fit.
“People may not believe it, but we don’t say, ‘Oh gosh, if we vote this way, the SEC is going to be left out,” one source said. “That never came up. Ever. We literally look at teams, put them up against each other, and say, ‘Who did they beat? Who did they not beat? Who have they beaten on the road? What’s their strength of schedule?’ Look at the matrix and all the data.”
The only time the committee members know the vote is when it’s a tie, because they have to vote again. There was a sense within the room Saturday night, though, that the more they voted, the closer the group came to agreeing that Florida State should be No. 5.
Boo Corrigan, the chair of the committee and the athletic director at NC State, said the group voted six to eight times on the top four, and there was “never a moment of rushing it.” One source said the conversations were “tense” at times. Another said it “never got heated, never got ugly,” but it was “way more complicated and way more agonizing than some people may think.”
The committee met again at 8:30 a.m. CT on Sunday morning and began discussions and voting again.
Because the selection committee is composed of people from different backgrounds — former coaches, players, sitting athletic directors and a former sports reporter — there are different perspectives in the room.
Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart is one of them, and he had the unique experience of having seen Alabama, Georgia and Louisville, FSU’s title game opponent, in-person because his Wildcats faced them, too. He was given opportunities to share his thoughts on each of those teams with the group. Corrigan said the coaches had conversations about: “Who do they want to play? Who do they not want to play?”
“They’ve got a significant voice in the room,” he said.
In the end, though, the difference between Alabama and Florida State boiled down to the committee’s written protocol, particularly the emphasis on strength of schedule — which gave Alabama the edge — and the section that allowed committee members to project what Florida State might look like in a semifinal without their star quarterback.
Not having Heisman hopeful starter Travis “changes their offense in its entirety,” Corrigan said, “and that was really a big factor with the committee as we went through everything.”
So was the Longhorns’ double-digit win at Alabama in Week 2. The committee had been consistent in honoring the head-to-head result all season and felt it was important to be consistent with that on Selection Day — even though they believed Alabama had improved since that September loss.
“That’s something you just can’t ignore,” one person said. “At the end of the day, they scheduled them, they played them at their house, they won and they beat them — and that was big.”
It wasn’t just the committee’s decision to exclude Florida State that drew criticism Sunday afternoon.
The group rewarded undefeated No. 23 Liberty with a New Year’s Six bowl bid instead of two-loss No. 24 SMU, which beat a ranked team in its AAC title game. In addition to voting multiple times at the top of the ranking, the committee also voted repeatedly at the bottom, which pushed the morning meeting to its cutoff time of 11 a.m. CT. The results kept flipping between Liberty and SMU, but ultimately, the group deemed Liberty better.
American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco was fuming.
“For a decade, that committee used an unfair strength of schedule argument against our great undefeated UCF, Cincinnati and Houston teams, which played genuinely tough schedules with P5 opponents,” he told ESPN, “and then they apply a clear double standard to this situation.”
One former selection committee member was stunned and said the inconsistencies in this year’s ranking were “glaring.”
“This may need a complete reset before next year,” the former committee member said. “If Liberty is a Group of 5 playoff team over others, that’s a problem. No Power 5 opponents on the schedule, and the record of teams they’ve beaten is weak.”
NOT SINCE 2014, the inaugural season of the CFP, has the committee generated anything close to this much controversy. That year, the committee dropped TCU from No. 3 to No. 6 in the final rankings in large part because the Big 12 at the time didn’t have a conference championship game.
Now, in the final season of a four-team system, an entirely different group of 13 committee members snubbed an undefeated team that won its conference title. The backlash, according to multiple sources, has been significant, including some from colleagues, friends and peers, in addition to vitriol from Florida State fans.
This would have been the perfect season for the new 12-team playoff format to begin. Next year, the CFP will include the five highest-ranked conference champions and the next seven highest-ranked teams, assuming the proposed new format is rubber-stamped by the presidents and chancellors at their annual meeting before the national championship game in Houston. That guarantees a spot for each power-conference champ and a Group of 5 conference champion. As excited as fans might be for the more inclusive system, Hancock warned that it won’t solve the problem of a talented team being left out.
“People look for perfection, and there will be some teams that don’t quite make it in 12 who are going to be asking some serious questions,” said Hancock, who will retire after this season. “I laugh because the easy answer is to say, ‘Yeah, I wish we had 12.’ But that’s not going to be the panacea that some of us might think it might be. It’s going to be great, don’t get me wrong, but it won’t be perfect.”
Daniels, Harrison, Nix, Penix to vie for Heisman
LSU‘s Jayden Daniels, Oregon‘s Bo Nix and Washington‘s Michael Penix Jr., transfer quarterbacks who have all played at least five college seasons, and Ohio State receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. were announced as the Heisman Trophy finalists on Monday night.
The Heisman has been given to the nation’s most outstanding college football player since 1935. This year’s winner will be announced Saturday in New York (8 p.m., ESPN). The top four vote-getters determined by more than 870 voters, which include members of the media and former Heisman winners, are selected as finalists.
With Nix and Penix, the Pac-12 has two Heisman finalists for the first time since 2010, when Stanford’s Andrew Luck was the runner-up to Auburn’s Cam Newton and Oregon running back LaMichael James finished third in the voting.
The Pac-12 is in its final season with its current membership before 10 schools depart, including Oregon and Washington to the Big Ten.
Daniels is trying to become the third LSU player to the win the Heisman and first since Joe Burrow in 2019 — another transfer quarterback in his second season in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Daniels had one of the most prolific seasons in SEC history for the 13th-ranked Tigers (9-3), his second at LSU and fifth overall after starting his career at Arizona State, passing for 3,812 yards and 40 touchdowns and running for 1,134 yards and 10 TDs.
While Daniels went from the Pac-12 to the SEC and found stardom, Nix went the opposite way. After three years at Auburn, the former five-star recruit transferred to Oregon in 2022 and became one of the best players in the country, leading the eighth-ranked Ducks (11-2) to the Pac-12 title game.
Nix has completed 77.2% of his passes, which is slightly behind the major college football record, and has thrown for 4,145 yards and 40 TDs.
Buckeyes standout Harrison has 67 catches for 1,211 yards and 15 touchdowns, and his trip to New York gives No. 7 Ohio State (11-1) Heisman finalists in five of the past six seasons. His overall numbers lag behind those of some of the other star receivers around the country, but he was the most consistent threat for a Buckeyes offense that was breaking in a new starting quarterback and dealt with injuries to its supporting cast all season.
Penix is in his sixth college season after four injury-filled years at Indiana. He transferred to Washington in 2022 to play for coach Kalen DeBoer, his former offensive coordinator at Indiana, and has guided the second-ranked Huskies to 23 victories, a Pac-12 title and their second College Football Playoff appearance with 4,218 yards and 33 touchdowns this year.
The Huskies play Texas in the CFP semifinal, with the winner playing either Michigan or Alabama in the final.
Live college football transfer portal updates: Latest news on who’s in and out
College football‘s 30-day winter transfer portal window is officially open, as players have until Jan. 2, 2024, to enter the portal for their one-time transfers. It doesn’t mean they have to find their new schools by then — or that they can’t return to their previous schools — but they have 30 days to decide whether they want to be in the portal.
More than 2,100 NCAA football players entered the portal in last December’s transfer window — the most of any month since the transfer portal was created in fall 2018.
This year, we’ve already seen several players announce their intentions to enter the portal, some of whom were eligible to enter early because their head coach was fired (or left the program) or because they already have undergraduate degrees. A few of the quarterbacks who already are in the portal include Ohio State’s Kyle McCord, Washington State’s Cam Ward, Duke’s Riley Leonard, Oregon State’s DJ Uiagalelei and UCLA’s Dante Moore.
Who’s next to enter the portal? We’re tracking notable players entering (and exiting) the portal, with the latest news and updates on how the 2024 season could be transformed:
Latest transfer portal entries
Portal entrants from before the window officially opened
Christian-Lichtenhan is a 6-foot-10, 315-pound junior, originally from Davis, California. He redshirted in his freshman season at Colorado in 2020, but played in five games along the offensive line during the 2021 season. He started in eight games in 2022, and was the starting left tackle this season for coach Deion Sanders. He is departing from an offensive line that struggled mightily in pass protection during 2023.
Ward transferred into the WSU program from Incarnate Word prior to the 2022 season, where he was a second team FCS All-American player and the Southland Conference offensive player of the year. He went 10-3 in 2021 with Incarnate Word and threw for 4,648 yards, 47 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
He continued that success in 2022 at Washington State and was an All-Pac-12 Conference honorable mention player. He started all 13 games and threw for 3,231 yards and 23 touchdowns.
After starting his career at Notre Dame, Pyne transferred to Arizona State last season. But because of injuries, he was sidelined for the most of 2023, only appearing in two games in September. In those two appearances, he threw two touchdowns and three interceptions. Pyne expects to have three seasons of eligibility left once he graduates with his degree.
The South Alabama wide receiver had over 1,300 receiving yards for the Jaguars this season to pair with seven touchdowns. He’s in the portal as a graduate transfer.
Moore was the No. 2 prospect overall in the 2023 class out of Detroit, Michigan. He originally committed to Oregon out of high school, but flipped to UCLA and signed with the Bruins. Moore appeared in nine games this season as a true freshman and threw for 1,610 yards, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Prior to his commitment, he showed interest in Michigan State, Texas A&M, LSU, Miami and Michigan among others.
The former Clemson QB, who was one of the big names in the portal last season is planning to leave the Beavers. In his lone season in Corvalis, DJU was improved in almost every category compared this previous two seasons starting at Clemson. In 2023, Uiagalelei threw for 2,638 yards and accounted for 27 total touchdowns.
Morris, a sophomore, began the season as NC State’s backup with plans to be a backup and redshirt. He ended up starting four games before opting to sit out the rest of the season to preserve his redshirt. Morris played last season as a true freshman after Devin Leary went out for the season with an injury. Morris has thrown for 1,367 yards with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions, completing 57.8 percent of his passes during his career at NC State.
Clark was a starter on the defensive line for the Wolfpack. He had 22 tackles in 2023.
Collins, a junior, will be immediately eligible for his final year. He has caught 91 passes for 1,290 yards and 11 touchdowns over three seasons.
Leonard, a junior, started all 13 games for the Blue Devils during the 2022 season and threw for 2,967 yards, 20 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also had 699 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns and was an All-ACC honorable mention selection for his performance. He played in seven games this season, missing games because of a toe injury suffered against Louisville, and finished the season with 1,102 yards passing, three touchdowns and three interceptions. He added on four rushing touchdowns and 352 yards on the ground.
Coastal Carolina starting quarterback Grayson McCall entered his name in the transfer portal as a grad transfer on Wednesday. McCall dealt with an injury this season that allowed him to play in just seven games where he threw for 1,919 yards, 10 touchdowns and six interceptions under new coach Tim Beck. McCall threw for 2,700 yards, 24 touchdowns and two interceptions in 11 games during the 2022 season. He has 10,005 career passing yards and 88 career touchdowns.
Peebles, a graduate transfer, played 411 snaps this season, racking up four sacks, 40 total tackles and a forced fumble. He had 3.5 sacks over the 2021 and 2022 seasons.
Bedford, who started 10 games this season and played both right guard and right tackle, is the 17th Hoosiers player to enter the portal since Nov. 27, according to ESPN’s Tom VanHaaren. That includes four of their starting offensive linemen. Bedford allowed just one sack in 2023.
The Owls’ sophomore quarterback is moving on after starting two years for Temple. He was AAC rookie of the year in 2022. In his career, he has thrown for 6,104 yards with 41 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.
Cincinnati defender Deshawn Pace announced that he will enter the transfer portal. He plays the STAR position for the Bearcats, a safety and linebacker combination, and led the team in total tackles in 2023 with 80 tackles. Pace also led the team in tackles for loss with 11 and had five pass breakups on the season.
Rudolph, who had 46 catches for 499 yards and two touchdowns this season, intends to enter the transfer portal, a source told ESPN’s Pete Thamel. Rudolph caught 51 passes for 892 yards and seven scores in 2021.
Kaliakmanis had 1,838 passing yards with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions, while completing 53.1% of his attempts for Minnesota, which finished 5-7. He added two rushing touchdowns. He took over as Minnesota’s top quarterback after starting five games as a freshman in 2022, going 3-2 with 946 passing yards and three touchdowns. He has two seasons of eligibility left.
After replacing Sam Hartman, who transferred to Notre Dame last year, Griffis struggled this season. He went 124-for-207 for 1,553 yards with nine touchdowns and seven interceptions as Wake Forest finished 4-8. Wake Forest backup QB Santino Marucci also announced he would be transferring.
A sophomore from Minnesota, Burks has decided to leave Purdue. With 47 catches for 629 yards and seven scores, Burks was the Boilermakers’ leading receiver in 2023. Burks was a three-star recruit in the Class of 2021.
THANK YOU PURDUE
FOREVER A BOILERMAKER 🖤 pic.twitter.com/6JErgcHWop
— 𝐃𝐞𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐁𝐮𝐫𝐤𝐬 (@deionkburks) November 28, 2023
After an up-and-down career with the Hurricanes, Van Dyke entered the transfer portal, saying, “I am looking forward to the next chapter and what my future holds.” A fourth-year junior, had been the starter since the 2021 season. He threw for 2,931 yards, 25 touchdowns and six interceptions in 10 games in 2021. His performance that season earned him ACC Rookie of the Year and ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Injuries and inconsistency hampered his next two seasons as Van Dyke threw 17 interceptions over the last two seasons and has played for three different offensive coordinators.
Chaney, a sophomore, had 478 yards rushing this season and two touchdowns. He was, at certain times, the Canes’ feature back, and he had double-digit carries in three games and 106 yards against Georgia Tech and 85 yards against Florida State.
Correll, who started 10 games for the Irish this season, enters the portal as a graduate transfer and will have one year of eligibility remaining. Correll was a veteran presence on the Notre Dame line but missed the final two games of the season with a concussion. He was a four-star prospect, ranked No. 148 in the 2019 ESPN 300.
Osafo-Mensah started one game this season before finding a reserve role on the Irish defense. In five seasons in South Bend, he had 47 tackles and five sacks.
A sophomore receiver, McAlister had a big season for the Broncos in 2023. He had 47 catches for 873 yards and five scores. He averaged 18.6 yards-per-catch in 2023.
Brown, a sophomore who saw limited action in 2023, has decided to leave USC. He had only three catches on the year. He was a highly ranked recruit in USC’s 2022 recruiting class. Ranked No. 64 overall, Brown was the highest-ranked offensive recruit in the class.
Part of an exodus of Hoosiers players after the firing of coach Tom Allen, Indiana has four of five starting offensive linemen entering the portal. Benson and Carpenter will be graduate transfers, while Smith and Bedford have multiple years of eligibility left.
Howard, who led Kansas State to a Big 12 title in 2022, has decided to move on as a graduate transfer. Howard led Kansas State with 2,643 passing yards and 24 touchdowns with eight interceptions, completing 61.3% of his passes. After sharing time with Adrian Martinez to begin the 2022 season, he emerged as the Wildcats’ top quarterback for their run to a conference title. Howard, who will have one year of eligibility left, has 5,786 career passing yards with 48 touchdowns — a team record — and 25 interceptions, as well as 934 career rushing yards and 19 touchdowns.
Ward will move on as a graduate transfer after four seasons at Florida State before playing for the Wildcats in 2023. He has had more than 500 yards rushing in a season the past three seasons and 17 career touchdowns.
After starting 23 games over three seasons in Waco, Shapen has decided to transfer. As a true junior this season, he will have at least one season of eligibility remaining. He had 2,188 yards passing with 13 touchdowns in 2023. Shapen is a former four-star recruit from the Class of 2020.
Will Rogers, who has thrown for 94 career touchdowns, is leaving Starkville after the Mississippi State coaching change. Rogers played in every game in the 2021 and 2022 seasons before injuries limited his 2023 season. In eight games this season, Rogers threw for 1,626 yards, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions. In four seasons with the Bulldogs, Rogers threw for 12,315 yards, completing 69.4% of his passes.
— Will Rogers (@Wrogers__2) November 24, 2023
Houser, a redshirt freshman, who played in seven games this season, plans to transfer and has three years of eligibility remaining. He played in 11 games this season and finished with 1,132 passing yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions.
A day after the Hoosiers fired coach Tom Allen, their starting QB is moving on as well. Sorsby, who started parts of the 2023 season, played in 10 total games and finished with 1,587 yards, 15 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also had 286 yards rushing and four touchdowns on the ground. He was a three-star recruit in the Class of 2022.
With Cam Rising returning for a seventh year and Bryson Barnes, who started for for most of the 2023 season also back, Utah freshman signal-caller Johnson has decided to move on. Johnson started three games this season, going 2-1, and accounting for 734 total yards and 12 touchdowns. From Clovis, California, he was a four-star recruit and ranked 93rd overall in the 2022 ESPN 300.
Johnson, who started 12 games at LSU in 2021, then eight over two seasons at Texas A&M, is entering the portal as a graduate transfer. He was the Aggies’ starter in 2022 for three of their first four games before being injured and redshirting. Johnson then battled Conner Weigman for the starting job this season. After Weigman was injured in late September, Johnson was again the starter for the next five games before injuring his ribs. In total, Johnson has thrown for 5,853 yards and 47 touchdowns over four collegiate seasons. Johnson was a four-star recruit in the Class of 2020, ranked No. 129 overall in the ESPN 300.
Cottrell entered the portal after the firing of Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher. Cottrell, a freshman from Milton, Florida, had just one catch for 13 yards (it went for a touchdown) this season. A four-star recruit in the Class of 2023, Cottrell was the 23rd overall receiver in the class.
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