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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Selecting the Field

Ever since we learned that the participants in major college football's playoff would be selected by a committee--before actually--there has been discussion and debate as to who should serve. Vegas? College football wants no part of it. Media? They want no part of the process. Former coaches and commissioners? Too much bias.

I've heard a lot of ideas batted around. Here are three that I haven't yet heard elsewhere:

Drum corps/marching band judges: I'm actually only half joking with this one. While they certainly aren't intrinsically knowledgeable about college football, the transferrable skills that go into objective, unbiased evaluation over the course of a season would serve the committee well. On the recent judges' roundtable on Marching Roundtable, it was quipped that they could judge just about anything with the proper rubric. Why not put it to the test?

College football referees: This is the real life application of the suggestion above. Referees are already used to being objective and used to being hated, two skills that would serve them well on a selection committee. The additional bonus, of course, is their vast knowledge of the sport. The caveat is that right now, officials are employees of specific conferences, a setup that has never made much sense to me. Still, with the playoff two years away, spend that time centralizing a refereeing corps. After that, set up a rotation that gives each official ample viewing time in a year they are tasked to evaluate; after all, refs are out there working every weekend, and the system would need to ensure they can get a complete picture of the college football landscape.


Retired coaches: Everyone has noted the biases inherent here. Could Bobby Bowden accurately evaluate Florida State? Could Barry Switzer give Oklahoma--or for that matter, Texas--a fair shake? The conflict comes because we are used to pretending there is only one level of college football. Why not employ retired coaches from the FCS, Division II, and Division III ranks?

Utilizing coaches from these levels gives you the benefits of using coaches--intimate knowledge of the ins and outs of the game, and skills in breaking down its component parts--while drastically reducing the biases that would be present with coaches from the FBS level. Really, the primary downside here is to the coaches themselves--after a career at a lower level, they'd spend their golden years with a front row seat to how the other half lives.

Who do you want selecting college football's playoff participants?
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