If you’ve read this site for any length of time, you know that officially we’re no fan of having a selection committee choose the squads for the new College Football Playoff. That’s because a committee will lead to more complaints and more conspiracy theories than a poll or a computer system would. If the idea is to make the process less controversial, the current BCS system should have been kept and used to pick the four playoff teams. It ain’t perfect, but at least it involves a lot of different views — a coaches poll, a “legends” poll, and a computer component featuring six different formulas.
If a committee needed to be involved, we wrote many moons ago that it should be added to a poll and a computer system. Let each component (panel, poll, ‘puters) have 33.3% of the call.
Instead, we get only a panel. And with college football being so much more of a draw than college basketball, you can expect more grumbles and gripes each December than we hear each March when the NCAA tourney bracket is revealed. That’s a lot of grumbles and gripes, folks.
Already there have been questions about the people on the committee. Condoleezza Rice — a former government official — is on there (question her involvement at your own peril). Retired Lieutenant General of the Air Force Micheal Gould is part of the crew (as opposed to long-time Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry). Tom Jernstedt — a life-long basketball man — is a panelist as well. There’s one ex-sports writer.
All of those folks went to a college and/or worked at a college. So have the ex-players, coaches and ADs on the panel. Jeff Long (the chairman of the committee), Barry Alvarez, Pat Haden, Oliver Luck and Dan Radakovich are all active committee members. All are currently serving as athletic directors.
The fact that all of these folks have ties to at least one school will lead fans to wonder — and openly question — “How many biases have seeped into this year’s selection process?” Obviously, panelists should have to leave the room when a school or conference they have ties to is brought up for discussion. Arkansas’ Long had this to say just yesterday:
“Certainly it is one of those high-priority items for us. If you look around this room, a number of us have worked at a number of different conferences, a number of institutions, so how we arrive at the ultimate recusal process is something this group will work on in the coming weeks and months ahead.”
To quote a “Seinfeld” episode: Good luck with all that.
Let’s look at just one example of the conspiracy theories that will start flying the minute this panel makes its first decision in about 13 months. Longtime Nebraska coach and AD Tom Osborne is on the panel. His Cornhuskers are in the Big Ten. So let’s say he has to remove himself from the room when the Huskers or any Big Ten team is up for discussion. And now let’s say a 1-loss Oklahoma team — Osborne’s biggest rival from Nebraska’s old Big 12 and Big 8 days — finds itself on the outside looking in for next year’s playoff.
The easy solution would be to have Osborne leave the room when the Big 12 comes up, too, right?
So Osborne would have to leave the room when TCU or West Virginia are discussed? He has no deep ties to those schools. That would make no sense.
And that’s just one man and just one example. It’s not just where a panelist played, coached or was employed… it’s also the rivals of the schools where said panelist played, coached or was employed.
Hey, we like the idea of a four-team playoff. But the selection committee — as we’ve said from the outset — will be a bigger target for the 120+ schools-worth of fans who don’t make the playoffs than the BCS system has ever been.
Wait and see.