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College Football: What Should the Makeup and Process Be For a Playoff Selection Committee?


The BCS is no more and college football is moving to a four-team playoff in 2014. Although many fans are finally getting what they have wanted for years, there are many details still be ironed out, and a playoff is far from a perfect system.

What Should the Makeup and Process Be For a Playoff Selection Committee?

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
First of all, the process of deciding the college football playoff must be subject to public and media scrutiny. I’m not opposed to the idea of the BCS rankings on its face. Pulling together a wide group of opinions from across the country combined with objective computer rankings isn’t a terrible idea. The problem is coaches who don’t watch enough games to rank every team, Harris voters who aren’t sufficiently vetted and computer formulas and rankings that aren’t open to examination. I’d like to see a similar mix used in the football selection.

I love the Legends Poll. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t. This group should be part of the process in some way -- even if it’s only to provide the committee with a tool to use during selection, similar to strength of schedule or RPI on the basketball committee. Let’s give the committee the composite ranking in addition to individual ballots. Let the committee manipulate the date. For example, if the committee wants to see the poll without Bobby Bowden’s vote on Florida State, let the committee have that tool at their disposal.

In addition, I’d like to see computer rankings, but only as a tool similar to the RPI. The problem with BCS computer rankings isn’t the rankings themselves. It’s that the formulas are secret and even the programmers themselves acknowledge they’re not perfect in part because of the lack of margin of victory. I don’t know how the rankings work, but I’d like the Jerry Palms of the world to be able to test the formulas and comment on their accuracy.

As for the committee itself, I’m fine with a makeup that works in men’s basketball -- perhaps with two athletic directors from each conference who hash out the playoff in a room, then present it to the public. With only four teams in the playoff, this committee must be able to explain why teams are in and why teams are out. Transparency hasn’t been college football’s strong suit, but if the sport is going to go the selection committee route, it’s going to have to be publicly accountable. 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
I am fully behind a playoff selection committee — if done correctly. Which, to me, means industry experts from the coaching, media and administration side from every region of the nation who have no other job description that to watch, evaluate and discuss college football teams. If this is what takes place, then I am in complete support of a selection committee. It allows for the eye ball test to correct for things like margin of victory, injuries, luck or scheduling. A selection committee process works in the other sports and should be just as effective in the greatest sport on the planet. So, where do I submit my resume?

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
There is really no perfect way to choose the four teams in college football’s playoff system. However, I like the idea of using the BCS standings and a selection committee to choose the teams. The BCS formula needs a few tweaks, including adding in strength of schedule, while exploring to see if it makes sense to add points for quality wins and conference championships. The selection committee can use the BCS formula as a starting point for discussion and adjust any oddities that may occur in the rankings to get the final four teams.

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A lot of ideas have been tossed around about who should serve on a selection committee, but I would like to see it composed of entirely media members. Although former head coaches can bring some valuable insight, I think it’s fair to wonder how many games they actually watch throughout the year. Conference commissioners or school athletic directors also make sense, but do they have too much invested in their own school or conference to give an objective opinion?

My solution is simple: Find 12 media members who are watching games all day each Saturday (and throughout the week as necessary). While bias or objectivity concerns could be raised, I think 12 media members who cover college football for 365 days a year make the most sense. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
It’s tough for me to answer this question, because I am anti-selection committee. I favor some sort of formula that would be similar to the current BCS standings — a combination of a poll and computer rankings. But to specifically answer the question, I would form an 10-man committee consisting of five former coaches and five current administrators — either athletic directors or conference commissioners. And I would charge this group with selecting the four best teams in the nation with no specific instructions to include only conference champions. 

Mark Ross
Unlike the NCAA Tournament selection committees for both the men's and women's tournaments, I think conference commissioners and to a degree, athletic directors, have too much invested in determining the proposed four-team playoff field. Therefore, I can't consider them to be objective enough to have a say in choosing the said four teams.

Instead, I propose a 12-member selection committee made up of media representatives. I know that "objective" and "media" are words that rarely go together these days when it comes to public opinion, but the way I look at it is these are the ones who are paid to watch the games in the first place, meaning they will be paying attention throughout the season, and, in theory, they have no dog in the hunt as they say.

I would limit an entity's or organization's, for example ESPN or CBS Sports, representation on this committee to one member and the BCS commissioners and Notre Dame can be involved in the selection process to determine the committee's membership. Once the committee is put together, they will be tasked with evaluating all relevant teams throughout the season and then, similar to the NCAA Tournament committees, would get together at the end of the season to determine the field of four. The committee would be instructed to use all available data, including statistics, rankings, polls, strength of schedule, etc. to pick the four most deserving teams based on their performance during the regular season.

I'm not saying this is the perfect solution, if you will, but if I had my choice, I would rather leave this to the ones who are responsible for covering the playoffs, not those who stand to benefit the most from being in them.  

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