Westhem: A first take on the College Football Playoff selection committee

Oct. 7, 2013, 10:07 p.m.

Last spring, the BCS conference commissioners announced that there would be a new system for determining each year’s BCS champion. There has been substantial controversy in the past surrounding the validity of the Bowl Championship Series, in which the top two teams automatically get to play in that year’s BCS championship game.

There are differing opinions circulating as to why the old system didn’t work — most obvious is that there are differing rankings based on different polls. For me, there’s more to consider in choosing the best possible matchup for the championship game. A computer-generated ranking isn’t going to necessarily give you the most exciting game. And aren’t we all a bit tired of seeing Alabama blow out its opponent?

I think just the fact that Alabama beat LSU in a shutout in 2012 and beat Notre Dame by 28 in last season’s championship proves that there has to be a better way to ensure a more competitive game.

And so the novel concept: People heavily involved in and familiar with football could probably do a better job in picking a successful matchup of four teams to compete in a playoff style system than the cold calculations of a computer.

Thus, the College Football Playoff was born.

However, there might be even more controversy surrounding the beginnings of this system than there was before. How are the 12 to 18 members of the selection committee going to be selected themselves? And how do you determine which athletic director or administrator or former player is more qualified?

Obviously, the committee needs to be made up of people who have good football knowledge and some kind of experience or connection to the game or sports in general. The “five power conferences” — the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC — will all have at least one athletic director on the committee.

There is inevitably going to be a perceived bias, as anyone who is considered will have some tie to a college. Therefore, the goal is simply to get a diverse representation of schools and regions in the mix. Ultimately, though, when the committee is officially announced on Nov. 11, there will be plenty of assumptions regardless of who makes the final cut.

Right now, the names that have been prematurely released are relatively predictable and understandable: Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez, USC Athletic Director Pat Haden, Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long, West Virginia Athletic Director Oliver Luck and Clemson Athletic Director Dan Radakovich, former Ole Miss and NFL quarterback Archie Manning, former NCAA Executive Vice President Tom Jernstedt and former Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese.

And then you have the outlier of the group: Condoleezza Rice. Huh?

Rice has reportedly held a big part in recruiting Stanford football prospects to attend Stanford and has even announced her desire to be NFL Commissioner, but I’m not so sure that qualifies her to be on the committee. She would add diversity to the mix, and I’m totally in support of having a female on the committee — but why Rice and not a female athletic director, such as Julie Hermann of Rutgers or Sandy Barbour of Cal?

I’m not saying I’m completely against Rice being chosen. She obviously has an invested interest in college football and has been involved with Stanford Athletics, but I’m not so sure that those are valid enough justifications. Maybe the added dynamic and opinion that she could throw in as a curve ball every once in a while is ample reason to have her on the committee.

In any case, until the committee is selected and then approved by all the college football fans out there — who are sure to have some initial complaints and misgivings — the College Football Playoff will be more of a hassle than the BCS system.

Hopefully, in the long run, it will be successful and provide us with some more exciting games than Alabama’s blowouts. In the meantime, let us appreciate the last season of the top two teams contending in the championship game, and may the BCS rest in peace.

Ashley Westhem is available if the College Football Playoff committee needs another female member to join Condoleezza Rice. To tell Ashley why she is totally qualified, email her at awesthem ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Ashley Westhem was Editor in Chief of Vol. 248 after serving as Executive Editor and Managing Editor of Sports. She is the voice of Stanford women’s basketball for KZSU as well as The Daily’s beat writer for the team and aids in KZSU’s coverage of football. She graduated in 2016 and is currently a Communications masters student. Ashley is from Lake Tahoe, California.

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