A College Football Selection Committee is a Terrible Idea

A College Football Selection Committee is a Terrible Idea


A College Football Selection Committee is a Terrible Idea

Mark Schlabach is reporting that commissioners are considering a selection committee to select the four teams taking part in a college football playoff/event. This is a dumb idea.

The BCS formula sucks. It’s an amalgam of opinion, either wantonly biased or unqualified, and neutered nonsense math. The input is rotten. The output provides no conclusion. It provides an ending, but seldom a logical or satisfying one. The formula needs to go, but turning things over to subjective selection committee would be worse.

College basketball has a selection committee, because the NCAA tournament needs one. The committee must choose the best 68 teams from widely disparate data sets, rank them and then slot them into quasi-regional match ups. They get ripped, but the debates are relatively insignificant. Choosing the wrong 12-seed or have another team a three instead of a four seldom affects the broader tournament.

A college football selection committee would most often be making one decision, choosing the fourth best team. Last year’s choice would have been between Stanford 11-1 and Oregon 11-2. Stanford had the better record. Oregon had won its conference, won at Stanford by three touchdowns and had lost to then No. 1 LSU. Would having a bunch of guys sitting in a room talking about it provide a satisfactory conclusion or end the debate?

Moreover, this is a sport where fans feel, with some validity, the playing field is rigged in the big conferences’ favor and money trumps competition. There’s already explosive controversy when a formula that tends to favor the bigger programs squeezes out a Boise State. What happens when it’s a bunch of fat cats (potentially bowl executives with a direct financial interest) sitting in a room deciding to take the Big Ten champ over an undefeated Boise State? Guessing that won’t go down smoothly.

Every human component has proven itself incapable of providing qualified, bias free insight. The solution is to go far more objective, preferably entirely objective. If there is a transparent, statistically meaningful formula, where the input is accepted the outcome would not be in dispute. Instead of psychoanalyzing broad public opinion, we would have numbers showing exactly why teams finished inside or outside the top four. Instead of unfounded whining, disputes would have to be grounded in the input of the formula.

An objective formula would resolve controversy. A selection committee would heighten it and do what the present BCS formula is designed to blunt: give fans a clear target for their outrage.

[Photo via Getty]

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