Playoff Selectors Named: There's One Glaring Omission
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Now, all college football needs is for the 2014 season to arrive ...
The members of the committee who will annually descend from the NCAA mountaintop with four tablets in hand have been announced. There continues to be only one quasi-surprise:
Look at the nominees, a staid and stalwart group the likes of which may never elsewhere be found, allegedly:
|Jeff Long - Chairman|
|Barry Alvarez||Lt Gen Mike Gould||Pat Haden||Tom Jernstedt|
|Oliver Luck||Archie Manning||Tom Osborne||Dan Radakovich|
|Condoleeza Rice||Mike Tranghese||Steve Wieberg||Tyrone Willingham|
There's probably enough influential firepower in that crowd to the extent that if anyone dares complain about the four playoff contenders they anoint each season, these people could arrange to have those objectors taken out back and shot.
So Oklahoma had best keep a short list of coaching successors constantly on hand.
The linchpin here is Tom Jernstedt, on board due to his body of work with the NCAA basketball tournament. Possibly the biggest stroke of genius in that operation -- aside from getting down to the 69th team before the bitching begins -- is he oversaw the mock selection exercise where sports media dudes and dudettes are flown in the week before the real committee meets. They then try their hand at choosing the Big Dance field and dutifully return to their jobs duly chastened about what a tough, thankless task the process is and write about what a tough, thankless task the process is.
But PR sleight-of-hand like that won't stifle college football selection debates. Neither will war-room photos of privileged non-geeks poring over computer print-outs. At some point, decisions are still going to be prefaced by phrases like "We thought .." and "We felt like ..."
This is progress?
If this group really wanted to emerge from its deliberations with unshakable credibility, it would do what the vast majority of fans do when they need a definitive source for comparing teams. The selectors would defer to an oddsmaker.
Sportsbooks have the perfect criteria: money against chalk, and nothing says unsentimental like cold, hard cash on the table. The data they use is obviously time-tested, because they've been around forever and still haven't gone broke. So if, say, they tab a two-loss Alabama team over an undefeated Louisville team for the last spot in the playoffs, they'd have the numbers to back it up. Case closed.
The NCAA has long stopped pretending bookies don't exist. Current pollsters and coaches of ranked teams use point-spreads as bellwethers; if, say, Florida State 'only' beats 10-point dog North Carolina by three, the Seminoles risk losing ground in the rankings. No one seems bothered by this.
And if it's less odious to bring in a big-brand corporate operation, call Cantor Fitzgerald. They saw no real difference between white-collar bookmaking -- known by most as the stock markets -- and sports action, and they're one of the biggest players in Vegas these days. Better yet, this is a sponsorship concept that one might think would be begging for an opening.
That should seal the deal. More big bucks for the NCAA. In that respect, college's governing body and the world's second-oldest profession are brothers-in-arms.
The NCAA has its illustrious selection committee to provide the cover. Now, they should include the dudes who know what it means to cover.
That way, college football will rest assured they'll be getting a bona fidé champion each season. You can bet on it.