A college football selection committee may be the best compromise. It is not the best solution. The inherent problem is who to put on the damn thing. The committee presents an inherent problem: who to put on the damn thing. Looking at available candidates there’s no clear or satisfactory answer.
Candidates have to be viable, to be knowledgeable and to be unbiased. Find that interest group. Discounting logistical concerns, my ideal grouping would be…
Media Members Who Could Plausibly Claim to Be Knowledgeable and Truly Unbiased: You’re looking at Dan Wetzel and…yeah…Wetzel.
Statisticians: Not BCS quacks running unverified numbers with bizarre methodologies in their basement on a Mac Plus but legitimate, academically trained professionals.
Bookmakers: Who is paying the most attention to these teams and has the firmest grasp on their respective abilities? Those whose incomes depend on it.
All three groups are knowledge and unbiased, but none would be chosen. Media members can’t create the news they are supposed to cover. This isn’t voting in a large poll, it is directly choosing which teams play for a national title. Statisticians won’t be picked, since the point of a committee is to excise their role. College football can’t politically associate itself with gambling. Screw that idea.
Present coaches have a clear bias and act accordingly. Beyond that, you’re really just creating a more exclusive version of the Harris Poll. Clay Travis suggests using inactive, national champion head coaches who aren’t in NCAA trouble, which is interesting. Though having old men who might not be watching the games religiously, be still able to grasp what they are watching and have clear biases and often offices and sinecures at their former universities is not ideal.
What definition does having Lloyd Carr and Bobby Bowden discuss a 4/5 debate between Big Ten champ Michigan and ACC champ Florida State offer? Perhaps you could have all 11 (or however many or left) conferences each get a vote? But, do the big four really want the MWC deciding which of their teams gets into a playoff? The committee needs to make one decision. Are any of the above solutions significantly better at making it than the present formula?
Even if you find a reasonable committee, it doesn’t offer a conclusive result. It provides a result and a focal point for the outrage. The fifth team still gets left out by a bunch of dudes deciding in a room rather than something tangible. The proper solution is not to shove the circular debates and anguish down to the fourth vs. fifth team or the eighth vs. ninth team or the sixteenth vs. seventeenth team. It is to come up with an objective, transparent, statistically valid formula.
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