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Q & A with playoff committee chairman Jeff Long

Jeff Long is the first chairman of the college football playoff executive committee.

The 53-year old Arkansas AD has the diverse background needed. In other words, you can't claim his loyalties lie in a particular place. Originally hired in sports administration at Michigan by Bo Schembechler, Long has also been at Eastern Kentucky, Oklahoma and Pittsburgh before coming to Arkansas in 2008.

Most recently, he was the guy who made the decision to fire Bobby Petrino. That earned him a lot of respect in the academic and athletic communities.

In this next chapter of his professional life he is head of college football's Fab 13. CBSSports.com recently talked to Long about this next endeavor into the playoff.

CBSSports.com: You were interested from the beginning but how did you find out you were nominated for the selection committee.

Long: "I was told that I had been nominated but, again, I didn't know how big that pool of nominations were or how that selection process would be. I first learned that I had moved forward in that process when I was in family vacation.

"We happened to be in London on vacation. We were between the London Bridge and the London Eye. I got a call from [SEC commissioner] Mike Slive who told me he believed I was among the finalists. I should expect to hear from [CFP executive director] Bill Hancock.

"I remember looking down at the phone. Again, I take very little family time. I saw it was Mike Slive, I thought, 'Honey I have to take this one.'"

CBSSports.com: It's one thing to be on the committee, it's another to be the chairman. Have you got an idea for all this is going to entail?

Long: "I do have a sense that it will be a little bit more time consuming particularly this first year, because we'll be putting together many of the processes that have never been put in place before."

CBSSports.com: Do you know your term as a chairman and as a member?

Long: "That's still being determined. We've decided that committee will roll off in 1, 2, 3 and 4-year terms to begin with. Ultimately, we'd like the term to be a three-year commitment."

CBSSports.com: What's the state of the recusal process? Will you necessarily have to recuse yourself from discussion of all SEC teams?

Long: "That's part of what we will begin discussing in D.C. I'm not sure we'll finish that discussion in D.C. It will be hacked out in the summit in the summer before the fall.

"I think we have to look a little bit deeper and see if a conference affiliation is something you need to be recused from."

CBSSports.com: Why commit your time to something that is going to bring some amount of criticism?

"In jobs as AD at major schools like this you become accustomed to criticism. You don't necessarily like it. That's not really a deterrent for me.

"For me personally, I put the football pads on in fourth grade all the way through Division III football. Football has been incredibly good to me. It's part of who I am and what I've become. To me, I'm giving back to the game."

CBSSports.com: Why is this next iteration of the postseason better?

Long: "Because it allows the human element to allow all the data. We will be able to make an informed decision on who those best four teams are.

"While there will always be some that will feel they were left out of that four-team process, I think it is a big step in the right direction of settling the championship on the field."

CBSSports.com: What about the element to this where someone gets left out? Can you think of something similar?

Long: "Off the top of my head, selecting coaches for a high profile position. There's going to be two or three other [candidates], you're going to wonder, 'Was that the best choice?' That's certainly a high profile pick for an athletic director."

CBSSports.com: Are you paying attention to what's going on in the season now and projecting it out in your head?

Long: "Honestly I'm not. I am certainly watching a lot of college football because of the interest in the game. I keep telling myself there is a lot of football left to be played. Some of these things we're discussing now aren't going to matter as we get closer to the end of the season."

 
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