One thing is abundantly clear after the announcement of the selection committee on Wednesday. This playoff is all about Big Boy Football.
Only two of the 13 committee members announced today have any significant connection to football outside the five remaining major conferences. Lt. General Mike Gould played at the Air Force Academy and served as its Superintendent, and Mike Tranghese was the founder and long-time commissioner of the Big East conference. That league was Big Boy Football for most of his reign.
That's it. The other nine members all primarily have ties to the major conferences, with the Pac-12 and Big Ten wielding the most weight. Four members have Pac-12 ties: USC AD Pat Haden, former NCAA executive and Oregon player Tom Jernstedt, former Stanford and Washington coach Tyrone Willingham, and current Stanford professor and former provost Condoleezza Rice. Rice is the one committee member that has never played college athletics nor worked in an athletic department. However, the Stanford AD did report to her in her role as provost.
While Rice may do a fine job as a member of this committee, and the people at the Playoff HQ are fawning all over her at every opportunity, I don't get her inclusion at all. I have a great deal of respect for her professional accomplishments, but she stands out as the least involved in college athletics, and football in particular, of any of her colleagues.
Three committee members have Big Ten ties, and two of those are Big Red. Tom Osborne is, of course, the legendary former Nebraska coach and athletic director, while Barry Alvarez played at Nebraska and is the Hall of Fame former coach of Wisconsin and now serves as AD. Willingham is a former player at Michigan State.
The SEC has three members with ties as well, if you count retired USA Today writer Steve Weiberg, who is a Missouri grad from back when the Tigers were in the Big Eight.
Each of the five major conferences has a sitting AD on the committee, and I think having people currently involved in college athletics on a day-to-day basis is a good idea. It works well for the basketball committee, which has a significantly larger and more complicated job. I would have liked to see them fill out the committee with ADs or commissioners from the other conferences and independents. One thing the basketball committee does well is to have representatives from all its constituencies. The football committee missed on that.
The process for selecting the teams is still a work in progress, but one factor that was mentioned again on Wednesday was strength of schedule. What hasn't been said is how that will be measured. If you ask each of the 13 committee members how to measure strength of schedule, you might get 20 different answers. It would be helpful for them to come up with one way they like collectively because that would help with the transparency of the process. When Jeff Long, the chairman of this group, gets up in front of the assembled throng to explain the committee's first selections, he's surely going to be talking about how one team played a stronger schedule than another. If there is no clear definition of that, he's not really helping make the committee's case.
There are many more questions that need to be answered as well, and now that there's a committee, they can get to work on them. They don't have a lot of time.