College football playoff: Keep the committee small
As we count down to what could be an historic Tuesday for college football — the presidential oversight committee meets Tuesday and could ratify a new playoff plan — let me offer one piece of advice.
Keep the selection committee small.
The conference commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick last week agreed on a proposed four-team playoff in which teams would be selected and seeded by a committee, akin to the NCAA basketball tournament. The key to that committee’s success is size. A limited number of decision-makers.
No more than nine. Six or seven would be optimal. Get into double digits and you’re risking chaos. Get into way more than six or seven, and you’re asking for an absolute mess. Sort of what we’ve got now.
The problem with the current two-team playoff is way too many hands in the cookie jar. The coaches poll has 60 voters. The Harris poll has 115. Plus the six murky computers. That’s 181 people with various clout determining college football’s post-season. That’s way too many.
College football isn’t a republic. Nor should it be a democracy. Too many uninformed and non-objective voters. Too many voters (and heck, computer programs) that care about geography. Or tradition. Or name recognition. Too many voters that, frankly, don’t have a clue.
That’s why you keep the committee small. In any major decision, the smaller the circle, the better the result. America could find way better presidents, going back 100 years, if we let nine or 10 of the right people make the decision. Let hundreds of millions weigh in, and the result flattens out.
So keep the committee concise. Six or seven people with a solid college football background and unimpeachable integrity. Former coaches and administrators. Former broadcasters and writers could be considered (the AP poll always made more sense than the coaches poll, and don’t get me started on the absurdity of the Harris).
Really doesn’t matter to me from what background the committee members come. Politically, it’s going to have to have some geographic balance. Some have mentioned former coaches like Lloyd Carr and Bobby Bowden. You might end up having to balance it out with representation from every major conference. I understand that.
Let’s just not water down this process with 30 or 40 on the committee. That makes for a United Nations, where nothing gets done. Use the basketball committee as a model. Nine members, processing an incredible amount of information over a three-day span. The football committee won’t face that kind of avalanche.
The football committee will make a couple of selection decisions, as opposed to the basketball’s 10 or 15. In football, at least two of the teams will be automatic. Most years, the third team will be apparent. Most years, the committee will be choose one or two teams from a pool of three or at the most four. Then the seeding and the site assignments.
The committee can focus on the quality of the resumes’. Which team deserves to be included?
A concise committee in which real discussion can take place — rather than a speech/audience model, which is what you get with too many members — leads to better decisions.
Keep the committee small.
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