Transparency for the college football playoff selection committee
Yesterday, BCS executive director Bill Hancock suggested to CBS’s Dennis Dodd that a media member might serve as an ombudsman of sorts for college football’s playoff selection committee starting in 2014. While it’s a nice idea, and something that might appease transparency junkies, it’s a little too much, too soon.
Let’s instead adapt an already transparency-seeking endeavor in postseason college sports — the yearly criticism levied against the men’s NCAA basketball selection committee on Selection Sunday — and make it a weekly exercise for college football.
Every Selection Sunday in March, after the CBS crew finishes lauding the NCAA men’s basketball tournament selection committee’s 68 teams and throwing softball questions without even expecting straight answers (see last year’s committee members fending off questions about Missouri’s No. 2 seed), many turn to ESPN to see Jay Bilas rip the committee in two.
Bilas is a breath of fresh air every year in this regard. The only shortfall is Bilas doesn’t ever get to say it face-to-face and on camera to the committee chairs on the night.
This is what college football needs. Not someone inside the room, but someone outside it that can dialogue with committee members weekly and call them on their perceived mistakes or oversights. Even a simple explanation of their weekly thought process would give us unprecedented access and ensure a little more accountability.
And guess what? The playoff that is slowly but surely coming together is setting itself up to create not just a once-yearly opportunity for some good old-fashioned awkward moments between committee members and analysts, but weekly exercises in just that.
Billy Packer once stood up to the basketball committee members on live TV, in 2006, when he thought the committee overlooked power conferences for the last spots in the bracket. Not a popular opinion, but boy, was it entertaining and awkward television. Since then, Packer has left CBS and the network has shied away from truly calling out the committee on much of anything. But it was entertaining, and when Packer basically had to eat his words — yeah, that was the year No. 11 George Mason made the Final Four — the committee felt vindicated. Equally, there have been times when analysts saw their criticism validated by bubble teams’ poor performances.
A group of college football Bilases, armed with a weekly ranking of the committee’s top 20 teams, as reported, should be given the opportunity to call the committee on their perceived mistakes on a week-to-week basis and then actually ask them about it. The continual shifting of the landscape in college football would allow an ongoing dialogue between these analysts and committee members week after week, holding the committee accountable and answerable to their own decisions.
Imagine the banter of eight consecutive Selection Sundays, but instead of conversations with no potential to effect change as they serve in basketball, we’d get conversations well capable of changing the landscape of the coming four-team playoff.
Forget putting a media member in the board room — you and I both know that when faced with the presence or looming danger of the media, these NCAA big wigs turn on the PC weightlessness to their conversation with ease. Let them yell, scream, curse and demean each other and any team they please to each other. That’s the only way we’ll get good argument. Then, when all that’s said and done and they have their top-20, have a few of them face a panel of analysts. The committee will have to answer for the top-20 they’ve just released, and if something smells fishy, or even suggests at some coming controversy, have them address it right away.
This is almost a no-brainer.
There’s already a time spot for it. ESPN’s over-long “BCS Countdown” provides a perfect timeslot to release the rankings and meaningfully interview committee members.
There are some great analysts at ESPN (who would obviously be the ones in charge of the whole shebang) who could ask the right questions. Chris Fowler, Rece Davis, Ivan Maisel and maybe current BCS analyst Bruce Edwards (he’ll be out of a job come 2014) could do well.
And there’s a real call for something of this nature. Everybody wants transparency, we just don’t know what it means. So why not put it to the test? We’d get a half-hour of appointment television, with Twitter arguments and blog fodder for days to boot. Why not?
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