Commissioners aim to eliminate bias in selection process for first playoff

PHOENIX -- The creeping fog surrounding that first playoff selection committee seems to have become a bit clearer.

Four of the 10 commissioners who will decide the matter told on Wednesday that the current committee model being discussed does not include a separate and distinct representative from each of the 10 FBS conferences.

“We don’t want people on the committee representing a particular constituency,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said during his conference’s spring meetings here. “Then people are in there with a narrow interest. We want people in there who can take a broad view and do what’s right.”

What’s right at this point seems to be -- to coin a draft phrase -- the 14-20 best available names on the board. We’re talking folks with big resumes and even bigger knowledge. The list could include retired coaches, current or retired administrators, even a retired media member, which continues to be a possibility.

But not the Noah’s Ark approach, one from each conference.

“My perception is there won’t be a representative [from each conference],” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. For example, “because then you’ll  feel like you represent the Big 12.”

The 10 FBS commissioners left the BCS meetings in Pasadena, Calif., last week with the selection committee the last big piece to figure out before the playoff starts. BCS/College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said then the commissioners will begin digging down further on the subject in the fall.

For now, the commissioners want to eliminate one element of bias -- conference affiliation.

“That’s right,” Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said. “We’ve [BCS commissioners] now met for 10-15 hours on the topic. There’s so many cross-populated guys. Head Coach X, AD Y, he’s been at four schools. Who does he represent? Where did he go to school-type stuff?

“How would you like to be the quote-unquote SEC rep when Georgia gets in and Alabama doesn’t?”

The “bias” issue has been huge in the discussions. About a year ago the commissioners were considering a model in which one representative from each of the 10 conferences -- an AD? --  would have a spot on the committee.

“No league designation [now] but I’d also put the caution out there last year that we went through a series of meetings, and it seemed like we made 180 turn after we came out of each meeting,” MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said. “Because we’re saying it today doesn’t mean that’s where we’ll wind up tomorrow.”

That disclaimer seems to accompany each piece of news about the committee. Names have been floated within conference meetings here, but everyone still seems to be in the preliminary stages of considering selection committee members.

“We’ve gone through a couple of exercises for just hypothetical fun,” Thompson said. “Let’s say we listed 10 names, 15 names, 20 names for fun. It’s hard to come up with lists … You can probably come up with 20-25 people who are on everybody’s list. Would they serve? Will they serve? Who knows?”

“I don’t want to say anything has been decided, but I think a consensus came out of Pasadena,” Scott said.

In the ultra-scrutinized world of college football even the degree of a selection committee member will draw some level of attention.

“Everyone has relationships,” Scott said. “If you don’t you’re probably not close enough to be an expert. There’s plenty of people who have worked in multiple places. If you’ve only worked in one place that might be an issue.”

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Dennis Dodd has covered college football for CBS Sports since it was CBS SportsLine in 1998. He is one of only seven media members to attend all 16 BCS title games and has chronicled conference realignment... Full Bio

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