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Can football learn from college hoops' selection committee?

By Matt Norlander | Staff Writer

Condoleezza Rice's name has been floated to serve on college football's selection committee. (USATSI)
Condoleezza Rice's name has been floated to serve on college football's selection committee. (USATSI)

The topic of selection committees has been in the news over the past 72 hours for all the wrong reasons. But nevertheless, with this discussion has come some reference -- and this will happen well into 2014 -- to college basketball's NCAA tournament selection committee and how it can/should be a model for college football. Is that true?

With college football finishing up its final year of BCS systematization, the sport is turning its head to the four-team playoff assembled for next year. With that, a committee will be put together and many factors will go into who's on that committee. What should a constituent on one of the most important sports brain trusts have to qualify?

And should college football's playoff council ape what college basketball has done? It could in some ways but can't in others. First, college football's postseason long ago gave up its marriage with the NCAA. The BCS operates outside the guidelines of the NCAA, and the College Football Playoff will do the same. But in college basketball, which has its 68-team tournament effectively and exclusively run by the NCAA, the selection committee does more than just pick teams.

The 10-member cabinet in hoops is actually labeled the "Division I Men's Basketball Committee," and in reality, oversees the sport. (Though it doesn't have strict jurisdiction on rule changes, among other things. But in general, this batch of college administrators does more than meet in March in an Indianapolis hotel and bicker over seeds and snubs.)

If the college football playoff committee wants to use the Division I Men's Basketball Committee as a guide, here's who's currently serving on the latter. Notice the pattern.

*Eligible for reappointment
DivisionRegionTitleName & InstitutionConferenceTerm
DI MIDWEST REGION AD, Director of Athletics Bruce D. Rasmussen
Creighton University
Big East ConferenceSEP 2018
Louisiana State University
Southeastern ConferenceSEP 2016
FBS SOUTH REGION AD Joseph R. Castiglione
University of Oklahoma
Big 12 ConferenceSEP 2016
Michigan State University
Big Ten ConferenceSEP 2017
FBS EAST REGION AD Ronald D. Wellman
Wake Forest University
Atlantic Coast ConferenceSEP 2014
FBS AD Scott Barnes
Utah State University
Mountain West ConferenceSEP 2015
FBS MIDWEST REGION Executive Associate Commissioner Judy MacLeod
Conference USA
Conference USASEP 2015
Northeastern University
Colonial Athletic AssociationSEP 2017
FCS WEST REGION Commissioner Douglas B. Fullerton
Big Sky Conference
Big Sky ConferenceSEP 2014
DI WEST REGION Commissioner Jamie Zaninovich
West Coast Conference
West Coast ConferenceSEP 2016

As you can see, all work with the NCAA and all are either comissioners or athletic directors -- and most often, commissioners are former ADs. Wake Forest AD Ron Wellman is the chair for 2013-14, and the NCAA's already gone about naming his successor. The 2014-15 chair will be Utah State AD Scott Barnes, who as you can see is currently serving. Members of the committee serve five years, typically, and a person's ultimate season on the board is their chance, typically, to be named chair. These days, chairs serve just one year.

The 10-team committee has improved over the ages, and in general, it seen as an efficient modus operandi to accomplishing the goal in mind: to put the best possible at-large teams into the NCAA tournament. The committee is so in tune with its reputation that the chairperson has all but conceded to ribbing himself publicly to this point, knowing full well every Selection Sunday will bring jeers, whether it be from snubbed programs or others who feel mis-seeded.

As for the members, women frequently sit on the committee (though we've yet to have one serve as committee chair). But with college football's postseason long out of the hands of the NCAA, don't look for that sport to utilize its post-BCS board of directors with nothing but NCAA-paid personnel. Former players, coaches and who knows who else will sit at the big table.

It's hard to argue that the Division I Men's Basketball Committee isn't the template to at least use as a blueprint, though. For all the criticism it's received over the years, seldom has it been over a lack of involvement in the process or knowledge of the game -- despite the fact plenty of current and former members did not play college basketball. Remember that was we enter into the next phase of figuring out who's going to fit in on college sports' coveted (for some) new committee.

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