Some guiding rules, worthy names to make selection committee fair

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Everybody has their own opinion about who should be on the College Football Playoff selection committee and the rules under which they should operate. Your humble correspondent is no different.

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I'll give you my 16 names for the committee a little later. But first here are my five basic rules of the road. You are free to disagree and in that case, make your own rules. Here are mine:

Fans, media must quell bias

You know the argument: "This guy is from [fill in the blank], so he can't possibly be objective. Therefore if he gets a chance he is going to hurt [they will use a stronger word] my team."

It's a tired argument and it is going to have to come to an end for the committee to work (But it won't).

Everybody comes from somewhere. Everybody went to school somewhere. Everybody has friends, relatives, and associates who went to college. You can't avoid that fact unless the committee members are coming from Mars. You can be from the South and still have the ability to make fair, objective decisions on who should be in the playoff. You can be from the Midwest and analyze the data and make a smart decision.

So get over it or you are just going to be miserable.

Committee members will travel to see games

They don't have to travel every week but most weeks during the regular season they will be on the road. It is one thing to watch a team play on television. It is totally different to see a team in the flesh. You watch how hard they play and how well they are coached, which is much more evident in the stadium than on the flat screen.

When former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese was the chairman of the men's basketball selection committee, his ultimate tiebreaker after all the numbers were crunched was: "Did you see the team play?" That is my tiebreaker as well.

Football expertise trumps everything else

I want to see a lot of "football people" on this committee and I really don't care where they are from. I want to see former coaches. The Legends Poll is comprised of a number of former coaches who study teams in specific areas and then have a conference call to discuss the teams before coming to a consensus on their poll. Nobody does as much research as these men and nobody knows the game better.

How about some former players like Archie Manning and Archie Griffin? Manning's credentials are impeccable. Griffin is a two-time Heisman winner. Yes, he works at Ohio State but I don't care. He's smart. He knows football and he's fair.

Nobody knows the game better than the people who played it and coached it.

No active members of the media on the committee

I find it hard to believe that any media organization would allow one of their full-time employees to be a member of the selection committee. The media's job is to cover the news, not be a part of making the news. Some fans have asked if I would be willing to be a part of the committee. The answer is no. But I would like to see former media people who have covered a lot of college football to be a part of the committee. Their institutional knowledge is an asset the committee should have.

Every conference and independent gets to make its case

In the weeks leading up to the selection, each conference and independent will be allowed to submit, in writing, the case for their team (or teams) to be a part of the four-team playoff. The conferences will take the pertinent data -- record, strength of schedule, wins against quality opponents, extenuating circumstances such as injuries, etc. -- and put it into a narrative for the committee to study before making its final decision. Every conference should be able to put its best teams into some kind of context. The committee members will decide how much weight to give these reports but their existence will create a freer and better exchange of ideas.

The human polls are irrelevant

Sorry, but I just had to get his one in. The basketball committee doesn't take the human polls into consideration when picking the 68-team field and the football committee should not either. The committee should take into account things such as record, strength of schedule, strength of opponent's schedule, quality wins, quality road wins, and the all-important eye test. The human polls, specifically the coaches and media polls, are arbitrary metrics that are based on relatively little research.

Bonus rule

When the final decision is made, the chairman of the committee will face the media and explain exactly why, in the committee's judgment, the four selected teams got in. Then they will explain why other teams did not get in. These explanations must be specific. If, in the committee's judgment, "X was a superior team to Y" then you have to stay that. The fans of the teams left out won't be happy and there is nothing than can be said to make them happy. So you might as well be brutally honest.

The fan fallout after the first selection will not be easy. With the basketball tournament the fans and media get to complain for two days and then the games start. In football the national semifinals will be almost a month away.

OK. Here are my 16 nominations for the Selection Committee. You'll notice that I stayed away from sitting athletics directors and conference commissioners. I don't know if any of these fine folks would want to serve, but these are the kind of people who will do the job with integrity.

By alphabetical order:

Gene Corrigan, former commissioner, ACC: Corrigan is considered to be one of the best commissioners in the history of college sports. He is also former director of athletics at Notre Dame and Virginia.

Terry Donahue, former coach: Successful coach at UCLA who later became general manager of the San Francisco 49ers. Still works as a television analyst for the NFL Network.

Vince Dooley, former coach: Won 201 games, six SEC championships and one national championship in 25 years as head coach. Was also Georgia's director of athletics from 1979-2004. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994.

Jack Ford, former player, Yale: Ford, who played for the great Carm Cozza, was vetted for the NCAA President's job. He is a Fordham Law graduate who has won two Emmy Awards and a Peabody for his work in television.

Archie Griffin, former player: Two-time Heisman Trophy winner (1974-75) at Ohio State. Played in the NFL and today is the President and CEO of The Ohio State University Alumni Association.

Steve Hatchell, President and CEO, National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame: Former commissioner of the Metro Conference and the Big 12. He is one of the guardians of the game.

Roy Kramer, former commissioner, SEC: Former coach who won a Division II national championship before becoming an administrator. Led the SEC to divisional play in 1992, created the SEC championship game and was the godfather of the BCS.

Archie Manning, former player: An icon in the sport and one of its most respected former players. He knows the game as well as anyone. All three sons played college football, two of them are pretty good quarterbacks.

Malcolm Moran, former media member: Moran was a long-time college football writer for the Chicago Tribune, New York Times, and USA Today before joining academia. He is currently the director of the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana University.

Tom Osborne, former coach: Won 255 games and three national championships at Nebraska. After serving in Congress he returned to Nebraska as athletics director. He is now retired.

Condoleeza Rice, economics professor, Stanford University: This is my wild card to keep everybody in the room on their toes. If Dr. Rice could have had her pick of jobs after serving as Secretary of State, she would have been commissioner of the NFL. She knows football. She is also one of the newest members of the Augusta National Golf Club. Having her intellect and judgment in the room would be a plus.

Phil Steele, publisher: Phil's preview guides on football, both college and pros, are some of the most thoroughly researched publications on the market. Few people have more knowledge on the relative strength and weaknesses of teams than Phil. When it comes to numbers and what's behind the numbers he would be a tremendous asset to the committee.

Grant Teaff, executive director, American Football Coaches Association: Former head coach at Baylor and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

Lee Todd, former president, University of Kentucky: Todd has done it all. He has Masters and Doctoral degrees from MIT. He has built and sold technology companies. He served as Kentucky's president for a decade and retired in 2010. A former president and his perspective should be in the room. Todd is perfect.

Mike Tranghese, former commissioner, Big East: Tranghese is a former chairman of the selection committee for the men's basketball tournament and is well respected by his peers.

Steve Wieberg, former media member: Weiberg was a longtime national college football writer for USA Today. He is one of the most hard-working and smart reporters I've ever been around. He understands how this process is supposed to work.


Tony Barnhart is in his fifth season as a contributor to CBSSports.com. He is a college football analyst for CBS Sports and The CBS Sports Network. Prior to joining CBS he was the national college football writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 24 years. He has written five books on college football.
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