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College Football Playoff Committee Will Be As Much Of a Mess as BCS

Nick Saban Bill Hancock BCS Title

The 13-member college football playoff committee was officially unveiled. Visit the site to view members’ résumés, football bonafides and euphemisms for “unemployed.” This is a playoff brought to you by the same brain trust that brought you the BCS. Not surprisingly, it makes no decision about how to distinguish between teams and the apparent objective is to obfuscate and deflect blame.

Transparency… There’s none of it. The committee pledges to be “as transparent as possible.” That, for them, does not include publicizing individual votes, opening deliberations to the public or even spelling out a firm set of guidelines for the committee to use. “Potential television ratings” or “schemes that most resemble the football I played/coached” could both be relevant factors.

Current Athletic Directors… They are not “experts in football” by trade. Stating they will “represent college football as a whole” is vacant nonsense you just made up. These men still have a vested financial interest in the outcome, whether that is professional (dept. revenue) or personal (contractual bonuses).

Polls… They are a dumb way to pick teams. Arrow’s impossibility theorem and the inherent problem with Borda Counts not reflecting majority opinions with multiple choices have been manifest for decades. The point of having a committee was to do away with that. This committee will use polls within meeting sessions. The committee will also release its own interim poll, multiple times. This only piles on pressure to conform and sets an unfair framework for later discussions.

The Ultimate Problem… This committee does not provide a clear, rational methodology for distinguishing between participants and non-participants in a college football playoff. The opinions, even from eminent college football figures, add nothing. They provide no conclusive value. As we have said before, this is the Harris poll condensed. Like the BCS, the committee will work smoothly when there are no choices to be made and fail impotently when there are difficult ones. The only difference is it will be the fifth ranked team with a gripe, instead of the third team.

If those in charge had the conviction to make a firm decision about what mattered and use statistically valid math, this process could be performed by a computer with greater efficiency and accuracy. The BCS did not prove the inefficacy of computer analysis. It proved the inefficacy of computer analysis with flawed human inputs.

[Photo via USA Today Sports]

Related: The Ultimate College Football Playoff Selection Committee

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