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Behind the Scenes: Kirby Hocutt on the NCAA Football Playoffs

Kirby Hocutt. Photo courtesy of Texas Tech University.

Over the last 18 months, Gensler | SPORTS has had the privilege of working with Kirby Hocutt, Texas Tech University Director of Athletics and Chair of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee. Hocutt generously took the time to give us a peek into the selection process and to answer a few questions related to the Championship Game on Monday night.

Gensler Sports: Kirby, congratulations on a successful playoff selection process. We all watched the Selection Shows on Tuesday evenings for the last couple of months, but not much is known about what happens behind closed doors in Grapevine. Can you walk us through the process with a view through your eyes?

Kirby Hocutt: I flew into Dallas Sunday evenings. Our meetings would start around lunch on Monday and end Tuesday afternoon. Each meeting always included conference reports, and then in-depth analysis and discussion on the teams that were being discussed. Each committee member would come each week very prepared and committed to ranking the top 25 teams that week in college football. After the committee meetings ended on Tuesday, I would begin preparing for the media responsibilities that come with serving as the Chairman.

Gensler Sports: Beyond your time in Grapevine, you watched an immense amount of game videotape. Do you have an idea as to how many hours you spent watching tape last fall, or how many games you viewed?

Kirby Hocutt: It is a significant time commitment. I would typically average watching 15-18 games a week. Of course, the CFP staff provides most games in a condensed format, which makes this doable. There is also considerable data and statistics that I would study each week.

Gensler Sports: Football fans generally have strong opinions on who they believe can beat who, or what team is better than another team. Each person on the committee was a noted professional, but how heated did the debates get—without naming teams or individuals, of course!

Kirby Hocutt: It is the best conference room/committee I have been a part of. The committee members are always respectful and appreciate the various viewpoints that are brought forward. While everyone may not always agree, everyone is always respectful. Working with the committee members was a highlight for me.

Gensler Sports: Everyone on the committee has a job outside. Did you meet non-stop or did you have dedicated breaks where you could address items that were related to your “day job?”

Kirby Hocutt: Again, it is a significant time commitment that we all accept when we commit to this important committee. Our focus while we are together is on the rankings.

Gensler Sports: There have been numerous articles written as to how you watch games with an eye on the details. As both a former player and an athletics director, what are you most excited to see from Alabama and Clemson Monday evening?

Kirby Hocutt: I am looking forward to the exciting match up. Last year, these two teams provided fans with a great game, and I anticipate Monday night will be the same. Both have had outstanding seasons and earned the right to play again for the National Championship.

Gensler Sports: Thank you Kirby! Enjoy your “time off.”

Gensler | SPORTS is currently working with Mr. Hocutt and Texas Tech Athletics on the design and construction of the new $48 million Sports Performance Center in Lubbock, Texas. This new facility consists of a new 100 yard indoor football field, an indoor competition track with seating for up to 2,000 spectators, as well as a new strength and conditioning space, training room, and nutrition area. The facility is scheduled to open this summer.

Texas Tech Sports Performance Center. Image © Gensler