"We are looking forward to an even bigger and more exciting road ahead in the new college football playoff. This up and down roller coaster ride excites us all," Pasadena Tournament of Roses President R. Scott Jenkins said at the Big Ten Luncheon. "The tremendous passion and enthusiasm surrounding the pageantry of college football will remain constant."
Selection Committee Holds Great Power
The selection committee for the new college football playoff will hold great power. They will be able to ultimately decide who gets selected without any real check and balances. The committee, with members yet to be determined, do already have some guidelines in place to refer to such as body of work, strength of schedule, head-to-head results, comparison of results against common opponents, and championships won; many of those factors are also components of the Fair Ranking System.
"It’s got to have credibility and to have credibility, it’s got to have a certain level of transparency," ACC commissioner John Swofford said. "In getting to the point of deciding to go with the committee, what we were hearing back consistently from football fans was that they trusted people in a room as a committee more than they did computers."
Swofford may be correct that most fans do not trust the BCS computers, but that does not mean they trust human polls. The BCS formulas and system are grossly flawed. In a non-scientific poll of 365 votes on College Football Universe, just nine percent of fans are in favor of only human polls at the time of this publication.
The fairest way to do a playoff would be a mixture of an automatic qualifier and at-large selection system, similar to college basketball. But what we have coming in 2014 is a pure at-large system that will not quiet much of the controversy.
Jimbo Fisher Wants Coaches Poll Part of Playoff
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher suggested using the Coaches Poll for the playoff, while other coaches like Michigan's Brady Hoke and Ohio State's Urban Meyer were not as fond of the idea. The BCS currently uses the Coaches Poll as part of it's formula. The poll itself is corrupt by default. Coaches will vote in a bias fashion for their own schools and/or for teams in their conference. Either intentionally or unintentional, it is human nature for it to happen. Coach Meyer wasn't even sure if he was a part of the Coaches Poll just days before voting on it, because he's so preoccupied with his own team.
"I agree with you (on Coaches Poll non-inclusion). I don’t watch all the games. I don't have time to watch them play so I understand that," Meyer said at Big Ten Media Days. "I use other people resources to help me grade those on where to rank them. I see conflict in that. I think coaches have a better understanding on how to win a game, but they don’t have the time to watch all the games."
Comparatively speaking, the new four team playoff committee will inevitably be a victim of their own natural order. ESPN's Brett McMurphy reported in July that "current athletic directors will be part of College Football Playoff's selection committee".
"That’s probably always a natural concern when you have people involved," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "At the end of the day, the system is what it is and you hope that the people they put on that committee will be of great character and integrity and will do the best job and vote what they truly believe outside of any other bias. And we’ll all live with the result."
Chief Operating Officer Michael Kelly
In terms of a college football national championship and playoff, one of the most powerful men in the sport is presumably Michael Kelly, the Chief Operating Officer of the Bowl Championship Series and College Football Playoff. Kelly has plenty of experience; he served six years with the ACC as Senior Associate Commissioner where he oversaw Broadcasting, Communications, and Football departments as well as he's the only person to have ever worked as the lead local executive for three different Super Bowls.
During MAC Media Day in Detroit, I discussed with Kelly about using statistical rankings or standings for the College Football Playoff and emailed him information on the Fair Ranking System. He seemed interested in including statistical measures for the College Football Playoff.
The FRS is a standing system that I developed to be either a gauge or automatic qualifier for the College Football Playoff; it is based on a team's body of work and worthiness of rank. At the very least, it could be one of multiple statistical measures used as some type of checks and balances for the committee.
Expansion looks to be the ultimate solution and eventually unavoidable. The notoriety and money produced by the playoff will evolve the sport.
"Yeah I like it (playoff). I think they’re sticking their toe in. I think they'll like it and I think they’ll expand it and I think that’ll be good," Washington State coach Mike Leach said.
With an eight-team playoff, many of the top conference champions would be included along with a mixture of at-large teams. For a 16-team playoff, all FBS conference champs would earn a berth while still leaving spots open for at-large selections.
"I would have eight teams go play. We got six BCS conferences right now. If you can win your conference championship in one of the BCS conferences you ought to have a chance to play for it all," South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. "And then you take two at-large teams. If Notre Dame goes undefeated, or maybe Houston or Southern Miss goes undefeated, maybe they deserve an at-large spot to play for the national championship."
A check and balance to the committee or playoff expansion is necessary, but must be implemented and used very carefully. I doubt the fans and others involved want another BCS mockery in college football. I talked to a Pac-12 football player; he stated that he favored a 16-team playoff with conference champions as automatic qualifiers over the current bowl system as well as he thinks it would bring in even more money.
Eight-Team Playoff Worth Around $1 Billion Annually
Under an even further expanded playoff, most bowls would be used as a secondary system just like in 2014. Upper tier bowls would still be used in the playoff to retain the significance of the games. It would mean more schools, more games, and more to play for, which translates to more money. The current BCS TV deal is worth $125 million annually and the TV rights for the College Football Playoff in 2014 is reportedly for $470 million annually and $5.64 billion for the full length of the 12-year deal. According to my mathematical projection, an eight-team playoff TV deal would be worth anywhere from $815 million to $1.16 billion annually and a 16-team playoff would almost ensure a multi-billion dollar annual value in TV rights.
"If you get it up to 16 teams then you’re not totally shackled by the choice of the committee. There’s a lot of teams that could potentially get missed if there’s only four," coach Leach said. "If there’s 16 at least you play it out there on the field. I think they’ll make a lot of money and I think it’ll be a lot of fun. I think they’ll expand it."
Creative Destruction Brings New Beginning to College Football
Other people think that some of the current BCS conferences may break eventually off from the FBS. While I do not completely rule it out, I doubt it will happen due to relationships between the various conferences and schools. If a radical secession would occur, it is something that would take time and rigorous litigation.
"Are four or five conferences going to break off and kind of have their own playoff game? To me that’s where it could end up going." Maryland coach Randy Edsall said. "Now you have a contract for so many years. Now it’s interesting in terms of how it will all work out and play out."
Making the conferences larger, as has happened in recent conference shifts, and schools playing more games within their conference can be beneficial to a playoff. It would lead to more definitive conference champions.
Coach Jimbo Fisher said, "They talk about nine. What’s wrong with ten? ... You have a 12-game schedule and have one other game, but what I mean I think it saves money and you can find out who a true conference champion is and it balances at five and five and you keep the rotation right and at least when you play in the league, you at least play everybody in that league during your time in the conference."
Schedule guidelines and conference structure will be important in helping determine teams selected for the College Football Playoff. It will be crucial to get as many schools on an even playing field as possible.
That brings us to Creative Destruction. With the creation of a new playoff, things will and are changing in college football. The bowl system doesn't have to be destroyed, but it will have to merge with a playoff to remain relative in existence. The future of college football is near and there is much more ahead.
About The College Football Playoff
Selection Committee Responsibilities
The Best Four Teams
A selection committee will choose the four teams for the playoff based on body of work, strength of schedule, head-to-head results, comparison of results against common opponents, championships won, and other factors.
New Year's Bowls
Rose (Pac-12 vs Big Ten)
Sugar (SEC vs Big 12)
Orange (ACC vs Big Ten, SEC, or Notre Dame)
First National Championship Game
at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX
January 12, 2015
- Statistical check and balance to the committee.
- Larger conferences and more conference games.
- Automatic qualifiers inclusion.
- Scheduling guidelines.
- Expansion of playoff system with inclusion of upper tier bowls.
What do you think?
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What Everyone Says About the College Football Playoff
Pasadena Tournament of Roses® President R. Scott Jenkins
ACC Commissioner John Swofford
"I think the committee is good. I'm supportive of having the committee. It’s a challenge putting it together. I think it’ll be a tremendous challenge for the committee when it’s formed. I also think the committee will need some benchmarks and criteria for which they work (with). It’s not just a blank sheet where you guys go over there and huddle for a while and figure out who’s one, two, three, and four. It will be some parameters and criteria involved that the committee will work within. Just as in the men’s and women’s basketball committee they have such parameters. It will be different... It’s got to have credibility and to have credibility, it’s got to have a certain level of transparency. In getting to the point of deciding to go with the committee, what we were hearing back consistently from football fans was that they trusted people in a room as a committee more than they did computers."
Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer
"For those who think the controversy is going to be ending it’s not. I was joking around that you’re going to have to move the committee members somewhere with bullet proof vests and have security around them."
"I agree with you (on Coaches Poll non-inclusion). I don’t watch all the games... I don't have time to watch them play so I understand that. I use other people resources to help me grade those on where to rank them. I see conflict in that. I think coaches have a better understanding on how to win a game, but they don’t have the time to watch all the games. I get the controversy, but I have enough things to worry about."
Florida State Coach Jimbo Fisher
"Whether it’s a BCS game, a four playoff, eight team playoff, 16 team playoff, whatever it may be, I think that’s the critical point of having consistency in how we pick these teams... we will be fighting over who’s fourth or fifth just like we were over who’s second or third and if you go to eight you’ll be fighting over who’s eight and nine just like who’s second and third."
"We have got to find some consistency in that (rankings). There can’t be that much deviation in what people think I know they say there are multiple polls and they all cancel. Full of bologna. Don’t give me that there’s that much deviation in polls. Somebody screwed up. That’s like trying to call a play and say that supposed to go thrown all the way to the right, but it goes to the left and he’s right. I mean come on. I don’t buy that."
"I think the Coaches Poll should be a factor in it also. We all said that as a group of coaches."
"We are the only sport in America, maybe the world, that we pick a champion and not every guy in that is in the same format number of games, conference championship, or whatever. Now that makes no sense to me. I think that's crazy. I really do. I think that’s something that needs to be solidified."
"I’m going to tell you something and I mean this. Sports writers are going to have as much of an influence as anyone. You can say it all you want to, but you’re going to have a tremendous influence on this game just like you did before and ESPN polls and all that. I think it’s going to be tremendous because it's all about perception."
"The bowl games are very important to college football and the growth of programs. You wouldn't have had the Boises, the Utahs, the TCUs, even back in the day Florida State without a bowl system. Whenever all these teams were growing the bowl system was a vital part. If you keep deleting and taking so many great teams away from it, you make it totally non-important. I don’t think it should go that far. I think the bowl system is still a very important part of college football."
"I want eight and I’m for eight, nine, ten... but at the same time your conference champion can be determined by the draw of who you pull from the other side. When you're talking about leagues. How are you truly finding a true conference champion? Then a guy that plays in the league and doesn’t get to play everybody in his own league and he’s in that league for four years. They talk about nine. What’s wrong with ten? And balance it up. And then you don’t have to worry about paying all these.. for the ADs talk about your buy in game buying this game or buying that game. How about it eliminates all that then you have one big non-conference game... You have a 12 game schedule and have one other game but what I mean I think it saves money and you can find out who a true conference champion and it balances at five and five and you keep the rotation right and at least when you play in the league you at least play everybody in that league during your time in the conference."
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"Even still doing the schedule great non-conference opponents, it’s hard to schedule them in home and home series... I think the kickoff games and those things are very good. I think those will emerge as greater things down the road because of the difficulty of scheduling home and home series, because of the conference scheduling and the conflict."
Washington State Coach Mike Leach
"Yeah I like it (playoff). I think they’re sticking their toe in. I think they'll like it and I think they’ll expand it and I think that’ll be good."
"That’s actually kind of a problem (selection committee), but I think if you expand it I think it solves lot of that. If you get it up to 16 teams then you’re not totally shackled by the choice of the committee. There’s a lot of teams that could potentially get missed if there’s only four. If there’s 16 at least you play it out there on the field. I think they’ll make a lot of money and I think it’ll be a lot of fun. I think they’ll expand it."
Michigan Coach Brady Hoke
(On playoff selection committee) "I’m not even worried about it right now."
(On Coaches Poll) "I voted on it once and left Arkansas off the final thing so I had to call Houston Nutt. I don't really like doing it... You know it’s hard the coaches poll. How much do we really get to watch so it's hard. It's difficult. I declined doing it a couple years and then I got back into doing it, because I think Michigan needed a voice."
Maryland Coach Randy Edsall
"I think you’re getting a little bit closer to a playoff system. The issue that I have with it and this gets back into some things that they talk about. There’s a chance that if you win your conference you might not even get into the game. When the people talk about how the regular season means something, how does the regular season mean something if you could go undefeated and not play, be one of the top four teams. That’s what I don’t understand and I don't get how do you as a coach tell your kids if you go undefeated and you win you conference championship you might not get into the four team playoff."
(On automatic qualifier for conference champions) "How are you going to define that with all the conferences you have? Take a look at the Pac-12, Big Ten, ACC, Southeastern Conference, Big 12. That’s five conferences right there. If you have automatic qualifiers, right there somebody's getting left out. What good does winning your conference do for you if you can’t get to that playoff."
(Comparing conferences) "This is where get into the level of competition. You know all those sorts of things and the strength of schedule and all that. Now you have 120 teams,126 now vying for four spots. There’s going to be people left out. And if you want to get into strength of schedule, now you’re getting into the question I was just asked. Are four or five conferences going to break off and kind of have their own playoff game? To me that’s where it could end up going. Now you have a contract for so many years. Now it’s interesting in terms of how it will all work out and play out."
Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney
"To me, they made it more complicated. I don’t know why the didn’t keep the BCS formula and take the top four teams and go. Maybe that's too simple. All I know is we got good situation. I think the BCS has worked well. I think for the most part more times than not it’s gotten it right. I think this next step is a kind of a combination of both worlds, both sides of the argument if you will. You got the four teams. It’s most the time we’re not sitting around arguing for the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth team. It’s been that third team or that fourth team or whatever. You still have the bowl tradition and the bowl experience that a lot of teams get a chance to be a part of which I think is great and wonderful and these student athletes have a chance to really focus and get that experience and finish on a positive note. And then you have a chance to settle the argument with the top four teams so it’s the best of both worlds and I think it’s going to be fun."
"(On bias with committee) That’s probably always a natural concern when you have people involved. At the end of the day, the system is what it is and you hope that the people they put on that committee will be of great character and integrity and will do the best job and vote what they truly believe outside of any other bias. And we’ll all live with the result."
South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier
"I would have eight teams go play. We got six BCS conferences right now. If you can win your conference championship in one of the BCS conferences, you ought to have a chance to play for it all. And then you take two at-large teams. If Notre Dame goes undefeated, or maybe Houston or Southern Miss goes undefeated, maybe they deserve an at-large spot to play for the national championship."
"We all know in college baseball a school Stony Brook was at the World Series, If they got hot, they could have won the national championship of college baseball. Butler University they could have won the national championship of basketball a few years back, twice I guess."
"But in college football there’s only about 10 or 12 teams realistically probably have a shot at winning it. That way you could almost open it up if you had eight teams and take all the conference champs. At least you could say, hey we had a shot and it didn’t work out. I don’t guess we’re ever going to do it that way. At least we have two more teams with a shot. I would like to see one more week of football and that would be eight teams 8-4-2. If I was doing it that’s what I would do. It’s not going to happen."
BCS & Playoff Executive Director Bill Hancock
"This is an issue of considerable complexity and given how much time we have until the playoff begins, we're in no rush. The issues we're discussing involve how many people should serve; qualifications and backgrounds of those who serve; term of member service; role of the chairman; recusal policies; and selection criteria including the evaluation process. Given the importance of this committee, we're going to approach this in a thoughtful and fully deliberative fashion." (CollegeFootballPlayoff.com)
USC Coach Lane Kiffin
"We don't concern ourselves with those things; we have no control over them. We have our own issues and we're worried about our football team and making the best decisions that have to do with this football team and let others figure out that stuff. We want to be in those conversations when those things happen about being one of those elite teams."
Interviewed or questioned the following people: Maryland coach Randy Edsall, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, USC coach Lane Kiffin, Michigan coach Brady Hoke, Washington State coach Mike Leach, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, and ACC commissioner John Swofford.
Discussion with College Football Playoff COO Michael Kelly.
Discussion with a Pac-12 football player.
Quote from Big Ten Luncheon speech by Pasadena Tournament of Roses® President R. Scott Jenkins.
Quote from YouTube by South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier.
College Football Playoff information provided during MAC Media Day.
Fair Ranking System developed by Justin Burnette.
Other previous articles posted on College Football Universe.