Prominent coaching names surface in playoff selection committee talks

An hourlong brainstorming session over a beer between two college football officials hinted at how difficult the process of choosing members for the playoff selection committee might be.

Wright Waters, president of the Football Bowl Association, said he and BCS director Bill Hancock recently kicked around several potential candidates for a committee (roughly 14-20 members) that will select the top four teams for the semifinal slots starting with the 2014-15 season.

Prominent former coaches were named -- including Georgia’s Vince Dooley, 80; Washington coach Don James, 80; USC’s John Robinson, 77.

“The difficult part could be finding qualified volunteers who want to do it,” Waters said.

The field will include a rep from each conference, outside experts and possibly the media.

The BCS and commissioners would like to have news to announce during a late April meeting in Pasadena, such as the semifinal and final sites for the 2014-15 national championship.

All that won’t matter much if they can’t get the committee right. The system needs committee members who understand the modern game but are still removed enough to shun bias. The decision-makers should probably make sure every member isn't pushing 80. But it's clear they are looking for some football minds.

TV rumblings: As NBC Sports Network works toward a long-term television rights deal with the Big East in the reported $20 million range, the conference is waiting to see if ESPN, which owns the right to match, will actually do so.

My guess is, at that price, it will. That’s a company lunch for ESPN. NBC might be more willing to prominently display the Big East because of ESPN’s broad list of college football commitments.

Yes, the Big East could have had a deal in the $150-million range two years ago, and it certainly dropped the ball by waiting, but it’s uncertain whether that deal would have kept West Virginia, Pitt, Syracuse, Louisville and others from jumping to the Big 12 and ACC. Devaluation would have been hard to avoid.

This is what the Big East is left with, and commissioner Mike Aresco must make it work.

“People feel this conference has an excellent future,” Aresco said in a recent interview. “We need to rebuild in the wake of some of the things that have happened.”

As for the ACC, the league was encouraged enough from recent meetings with athletic directors and faculty reps to continue researching an ACC channel, a league source said.

A network is all about exposure and money. The ACC has decent cable reach (Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte area, etc.) but would need to persuade ESPN, which is already working with the SEC on a network, to double up.

The Mountain West is engaged in talks with NBC, Fox and ESPN about its additional games released by CBS as part of a renegotiation.

Good luck, Chip: After four years of scheming against Chip Kelly, Oregon State defensive coordinator Mark Banker seems OK with Kelly leaving for the Eagles. That weakside sweep was rough on the Beavers in a 48-24 loss last year.

Like a lot of fans, Banker is eager to see how Kelly’s no-huddle attack translates to the NFL. But his curiosity starts with officials, not with Kelly.

Are NFL officials willing to spot the ball as quickly as college officials do?

“I want to see how the NFL officiating crews handle the speed of play,” Banker said. “To me, the NFL’s kind of a Republican league. Slow to change.”

Coaching news: Alabama is looking for an offensive line coach to replace Jeff Stoutland, who was crucial to the Tide’s recent success in the running game, but was hired by Kelly in Philadelphia.

Saban has interviewed UCF offensive line/assistant head coach Brent Key, reported Thursday, while The State (Columbia, S.C.) reports South Carolina offensive line coach Shawn Elliott talked with Alabama this week.


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