Q&A: Clemson AD Dan Radakovich


Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich had to do his fair share of juggling throughout the season as a member of the College Football Playoff committee. How did he divide up his time? And what did he tell his league coaches at the ACC spring meetings about the process?

Here is a little of what he had to say.

You and Michael Kelly had a chance to talk to the ACC football coaches about the selection process. Some wanted to know why unbeaten Florida State ended up No. 3 in the final rankings and whether league perception played a role. What do you feel you were able to present to them?

DR: Hopefully what I was able to present to them was there were 12 individuals who looked at that issue 12 different ways. What came from that was the collective votes and the rankings came the way they are. I wanted to let them know nobody walked into that room with preconceived notions about a conference or a team. They looked at the game, they looked at their analytics and that's how they came forward with it. The ACC, when you look at it from top to bottom, there were four teams that were ranked within the College Football Playoff that were ranked higher than the media polls.

One could say if you look at that prism, "Hey, the ACC was looked at very favorably from that committee." If you look solely at Florida State moving up and down, maybe someone could come up with another conclusion, but I just let everybody know everybody walked in there and they were all looked at on an equal playing field each and every week. That's the piece that's going to continue to be an education about the College Football Playoff. It is a clean sheet of paper each week. There are teams that won and fell, there are teams that lost and went up. It depended upon where they were at that part of the year to look at the full body of work. It was most important that we got it right at the end. That's where the whole focus is. It's different than basketball, it's different than all the rest of these because we have these mile posts each and every Tuesday. The middle of November is not the end of the season.

How hard was it to only judge each week on its own?

DR: It was difficult. It was something you had to be disciplined with. The committee as a whole did a good job of that.

Say an opponent was a top-5 team at the time they played but were no longer ranked at the end of the year. How were wins viewed at the end of the season?

DR: Everybody took it a little differently. That was part of what are your analytics? How did you see these games? Some people will look at that and say at that time that was really good. Other people would say at the end of the year it was a good win, was it a great win? But really when you put everything together, all the teams that were involved in that top four discussion, it was really concentrating on your full body of work and how did that measure up against those other teams. So using that path, the win was not as good at the end of the year as it would have been in the middle of the year. But going back to what we said earlier, a win in the middle of the year is nice but what you're trying to do is be there at the end of the year.

How did you handle your committee responsibilities with your AD duties?

DR: I've got a great staff. They were able to keep things rolling at home. Some people read, play golf. (The committee work) becomes all of our hobbies. (It was a) 15-20 hour a week commitment to be able to make sure you're prepared. You go in with your 20, 25, 30 teams you're looking at and listen to the other members of the committee talk about why they think certain teams are here and be open enough to adjust your thought process should someone bring something up you didn't consider or you take a step back during one of the breaks to do some research on your own before you put in a vote.

How did you arrive at your conclusions?

DR: It was either watching games, parts of games, studying some statistics that were relevant to the game. You would get bleary eyed watching all those games. So you wanted to make sure you were using your time effectively in looking at games. It began to winnow down at the end of the year.

How did you handle the questions from the ACC coaches about the job the committee did?

DR: The one thing people have to remember is you choose your poison. You either have a living breathing human being evaluate what you're doing and how it's working, or you have gears and diodes putting things in there and spitting it out. Which do you like? You like the response that puts you in the best position. That's the one thing the committee does, whether it's football, basketball, baseball. There's always going to be people that have a different view. Through the 12 or 13 people on that committee, we're going to get that broad brush so that you're going to have a better ranking than if you had three and probably not as good as if you had 36.