Turns out the College Football Playoff might follow an NFL model after all.
The playoff selection committee could include the presence of NFL scouts, a conference commissioner told CBSSports.com.
“It would not surprise me if there are one or more individuals who have at one time been NFL scouts,” MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said. “That's just me spitballing, though.”
Considering the time constraints of the playoff committee -- likely composed of 15-20 members starting in 2014 -- former scouts are more likely than current ones. And the pool of former scouts is pretty broad. It could be someone who started as a scout but coached 20 years in college, too.
But the point is, the playoff folks are willing to get creative in this process and probably see the value of how the NFL evaluates.
West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck does. Luck knows the pro game well as a five-year NFL backup in the 1980s, a former NFL Europe president and the father of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.
Luck said scouts would have to evaluate differently -- whole teams instead of individual players -- but he generally likes the idea.
“Who watches more film than those guys?” Luck said. “They certainly know the game. It's their livelihood. College scouts accustomed to watching film would make sense and are pretty bright.”
Last week, each conference submitted names to the college football playoff officials for consideration. The criteria for selecting teams are still unclear.
Hiring scouts could lessen conference bias to an extent, though everyone still went to school somewhere or could have worked in the college game. The goal, the commissioners said, is for committee members from different backgrounds to rise above any potential bias.
When asked about scouts, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said he wants qualified members regardless of background.
“There aren't very many I would rule out summarily,” Bowlsby said. “My priorities are the ones I noted. You have to have work ethic, you have to have great integrity, you've got to have tremendous football expertise and the willingness to do it.”
Could more NFL input favor the SEC, which has become sort of an NFL factory? Scouts might have seen Notre Dame last season and figured out what many saw in early January: that more than one SEC team could have beaten the Irish in that title game.
But the college football playoff will likely consider more than the eye test: If a team goes undefeated or loses one game and plays a reputable schedule, should that team be punished and left out of the top four?
That 15-20 people will make that determination -- and not anonymously -- deepens the postseason intrigue 15 months from now.
That's why Steinbrecher is looking for committee members who understand football “and all its forms and fashions all across the country.”
“And recognizes what a good team in the Pac-12 is versus a good team in the Big 12 and the MAC and Mountain West, et cetera,” Steinbrecher said.