Commentary: Legends coaches will get college football playoff correct

11:37 AM, May 19, 2013   |    comments
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Commentary by David Climer, The Tennessean


By this time next year, we should know the makeup of the selection committee for the College Football Playoff.

Let me be clear about one thing right up front:

If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve.

Look, media members have no place in this. It's not because of concern about pressure from fans. Believe me, we deal with plenty of that already. But we're supposed to cover the story, not be part of the story.

It's the same thing with current coaches. Why the USA TODAY coaches poll remains a part of the BCS process is beyond me. Time and again, we have seen the biases and petty differences of the profession bubble up. Besides, these guys have day jobs.

Since a college football playoff finally comes on line in 2014, we've got to get this right. And that begins with putting the right people on the selection committee.

Think of it as the Supreme Court of college football. The committee will identify and rank the top four teams in the nation, thus determining the semifinal matchups that ultimately will lead to the national championship game.

This is going to be the most scrutinized and criticized voting procedure since those dangling chads in Florida in the presidential election of 2000. This isn't like filling out the NCAA basketball tournament field, where you're deciding between No. 68 and No. 69. The difference between the No. 4 college football team in the country and No. 5 is certain to be the source of an epic debate.

The passion for college football, especially in our part of the country, is like nothing else. If you're deciding who plays in the national semifinals and who doesn't, you don't need thick skin. You need Kevlar.

Bill Hancock, executive director of the BCS, recently said he expects the selection committee to have between 15 and 20 members. It will almost certainly be geographically balanced.

Beyond that, the composition of the committee is anybody's guess. Will it include conference commissioners? Athletics directors? Former players? Former coaches? A mix of all of the above?

So where do you start?

Some, including Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com, have suggested that the safest way to go is to appoint the voters in the Legends Poll as the selection committee. Seventeen former coaches, 15 of whom are in the College Football Hall of Fame, vote on the Legends Poll.

It's an impressive list. And from watching how their rankings evolved over the course of last season, it's pretty clear that the Legends Poll voters follow the game closely and don't seem overly affected by other polls or computer rankings.

In short, they watch college football and rank the teams according to the eye test. Gee, what a novel concept.

If the Legends Poll voters had been in charge of the process last season, we would've had some interesting debates. On Dec. 2, the day after all conference championship games were played, their poll ranked the top four teams in this order:

Alabama

Notre Dame

Oregon

Florida

Yes, the former coaches preferred one-loss Alabama over undefeated Notre Dame, which was in contrast to the Harris Poll, USA TODAY poll and computer rankings - the three components of the BCS system.

In other words, the ex-coaches took a hard look at the top two teams in the nation and believed Alabama was better. As we found out a month later, that was more than an educated guess.

Of course, that 1-4 ranking would have set up semifinal matchups of Alabama-Florida and Notre Dame-Oregon, irking those suffering from SEC fatigue because it would have guaranteed an SEC team in the championship game.

Compare that to the final BCS standings, which ranked the top four in this order:

Notre Dame

Alabama

Florida

Oregon

Even with the order shuffled, the two systems agreed on the top four teams. And the semifinal matchups would have been the same.

So which is better, the subjective vote of former coaches or a system that is two-thirds polls and one-third computer data?

Personally, I'll take the former coaches.

Either that or a Ouija board.


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