College Football

Storin: College Football Playoff selection committee needs fresh perspective

storapse@aol.comOctober 17, 2013 

We won't know for at least 14 months, but I fear the 13-person College Football Playoff selection committee, announced Wednesday, is built for failure.

With five current athletics directors on board it looks like more of the same old, same old. Yes, all are reputed to have great integrity, but they will carry a heavy baggage of school and conference loyalty.

Each of the top five conferences -- Big Ten (Wisconsin's Barry Alvarez), Southeastern (Arkansas' Jerry Long), Big 12 (West Virginia's Oliver Luck), Pacific 12 (Southern Cal's Pat Haden), and Atlantic Coast (Clemson's Dan Radakovich) -- gets the opportunity for one bias vote.

When it comes time to pick the four playoff teams in December of 2014, they probably will cancel each other out.

That leaves eight others, and frankly I don't trust two of those -- former coaches Tom Osborne of Nebraska and the well-traveled Tyrone Willingham -- to shake their pedigrees.

In my view the three best committee choices are Archie Manning, football's best known father; retired Lt. General Michael Gould, former superintendent of the Air Force Academy; and Condoleezza Rice, the former Secretary of State. All three are "outsiders" and are exactly the kind of free-thinkers that should have been picked.

The choice of Rice has been attacked by former Auburn coach Pat Dye and ESPN talking head David Pollack.

Dye, once known around the SEC as Pat "Tye" for his penchant for going for ties instead of victories before college football installed the overtime system, said this about Rice: "All she knows about football is what somebody told her. Or what she read in a book or saw on television. To understand football, you've got to play with your hand in the dirt."

Pollack, an outstanding linebacker at Georgia and now part of a crowded list of former players-turned-experts on ESPN, also would exclude women from the panel.

"I want people on this committee that can watch tape," he said, "that have played football, that are around football, that can tell you different teams on tape, not on paper."

So there you have it. No women, no outsiders.

Sounds just like the current USA Today poll, which is made up of coaches with a financial and recruiting stake in the selections. Some of these insiders don't even bother to vote each week, leaving the Saturday night choices to their sports information directors. And those who do vote often downgrade teams that are regional recruiting rivals.

The Associated Press poll is no better. It is made up of sports media people who see very few teams outside their own region.

How many coaches and sports writers east of the Mississippi River have seen Oregon play this season? Not many, I'll bet, and that is why Alabama leads the Ducks by a large margin in each poll.

The only ratings worth their weight are Jeff Sagarin's, which are carried by USA Today. It is based heavily on strength of schedule, which is supposed to be a major factor in the rankings of the College Football Playoff selection committee in 2014.

This week Sagarin lists the Top Five in order as Oregon, Alabama, Florida State, LSU and Baylor. Conspicuously, undefeated Ohio State is No. 11 because of its non-conference cupcake schedule.

I doubt that the new committee, so heavily populated with old guard athletics directors and ex-coaches, would agree with Sagarin.

It is important to note that in mid-October the ratings are meaningless. Check back six weeks from now, when they will determine who plays in the final BCS title game in January and bowl matchups.

It was all supposed to be different in 2014 -- the dawn of a new era in college football. With only three "outsiders" on the playoff selection committee, darkness has already set in.

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