A couple of months back, Sports Illustrated conducted a mock selection committee for the upcoming college football playoff:
By the end of the 138-minute conference call, Livengood and the other athletic directors realized the myriad challenges that the selection process will present; many concluded that it will be more difficult than selecting 37 at-large teams in basketball. Among the biggest challenges: a finite number of teams that are difficult to compare; multi-million dollar stakes; lack of relative data; and potential conflicts of interest. “Wow, is this committee going to have pressure,” Livengood said. “The thing that jumps out at me is that there are just four teams, it’s not enough of a sample. I was not a proponent of going larger than four, and this changed my mind totally.”
It’s a really good read, even though it’s a couple of months old. I think everyone that thinks this is going to solve all the problems is in for a rude awakening. But it’s also why I think the playoff will go to 8 teams sooner rather than later.
The criteria used to decide which teams are eligible will be interesting. Will there be a requirement that teams be conference champions? Will there be a limit on the number of teams from the same conference? In the mock selection linked above, both answers were no. In fact the Stanford Cardinal who both won the Pac 12 and beat Oregon was passed for for the Ducks. They also selected two SEC schools including another team that didn’t even make their conference championship game, Florida.
Were those the right teams to chose? Well, ironically the BCS’ top four matched the four teams picked in this mock selection. And while this was just that, a mock selection, it seems ironic that the system that takes so much abuse actually produced the same result as these gentlemen. One-loss Big 12 champ Kansas St. was left out, and after Oregon throttled them, that might have been a smart move. But Florida lost to Louisville, who was never even in the conversation.
Most likely this system will work out just like the BCS. Most years they will get it right, but it still won’t be perfect.