The last college football season with the BCS – that's right, BCS – arrives, and don't expect sorrowful farewells.
Most fans and critics and coaches are ready to tell the two-team playoff system to scram.
Bob Stoops isn't necessarily one of them. He's a little skeptical on the format for selecting the four-team tournament starting in 2014.
Stoops' problem: He says inherent bias will afflict the soon-to-be-formed football committee.
“Human nature, you can't get away from,” Stoops said.
But Oklahoma's own Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff, wants Stoops to rest easy.
Bias can be eradicated from the process. Because Hancock has seen it done.
Hancock spent 13 years as director of the NCAA Tournament, during which he sat in on the March Madness bracketing. And Hancock says the football committee will achieve what the basketball committee achieved.
“I understand people who think there may be biases,” Hancock said. “But believe me, we did away with it in basketball.
“Here's what you do. You create a culture whereby members check their hats at the door.”
Stoops has his reasons for skepticism. Some are even valid.
Stoops distrusts people in general. Maybe it's a Youngstown thing. That can be both healthy and unhealthy, depending on the situation.
But Stoops also knows the stakes. The pressure on the football committee will dwarf the burden on the hoops committee. Someone cracked that the difference between the scrutiny of the football committee and the basketball committee will be the same as the difference between the basketball committee and the field hockey committee.
That's why Stoops over the years has favored the computer rankings of the BCS and strength-of-schedule factors, more than the human polls.
“Does everybody have bias or not?” Stoops asked. “Does everybody have to answer to somebody … the paycheck you're getting from whoever?
“I'm just wondering. There's bias everywhere. And I find it hard to get away from. Everybody answers to somebody.”
Hancock says there are practical remedies to natural bias:
* The size of the committee, which is expected to be between 12 and 18 members. “So one person's vote is not going to sway the vote,” Hancock said. I tend to think 15 is too many for a committee of any kind, but it does lessen the impact of any particular member.
* Recusal. Just like in basketball, if a committee member has a direct link to a school involved in the discussion, he or she will step out of the room. If Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith is on the committee, he won't be involved in votes or dialogue about the Buckeyes.
* Various professionals will make up the committee. Current athletic directors. Former coaches. Former players. Even former media. I nominate the honorable Steve Wieberg, who spent almost 30 years with USA Today before leaving the business last summer to begin a teaching career. Place people like Wieberg on the committee, and I promise you, there will be no concerns about bias.
* And geographic balance. There won't be eight guys from Atlanta on the committee, or eight guys from the Pacific Coast, or eight guys from Texas.
“That's the practical answer,” Hancock said. “I prefer the philosophical answer.”
Which is the environment the basketball committee established and Hancock is determined to establish with football.
“It is absolutely in the culture,” Hancock said of the basketball selections. “You're not there representing anyone but the game.”
Hancock said the same will be stressed “from Day One” on the football committee. “From the top. I'm stressing it as I'm talking to people about serving.”
Stoops talks about pressure from outsiders on committee members. Hancock talks about peer pressure from fellow committee members, if anyone is tempted to waver. He's seen that self-policing in March.
“They stare you down if they sense you're representing somebody or touting somebody,” Hancock said.
No reason the same culture can't be built in football, especially since it will be more important than ever.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.