Category Archives: BCS/Playoffs

“This doesn’t affect his capability as a committee member.”

Face it, if Bill Hancock had declared Pat Haden’s conduct to be a problem for the selection committee, it’s hard to see how he could have stopped there and not gone on to question having any active AD serving on the committee.  That, of course, is the real issue being swept under the rug.

Eh, we’ll probably all have a good laugh about it the day the playoffs expand to sixteen teams.

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They’ll always have transparency.

Remember this?

“The members of the selection committee are an outstanding group of people with high integrity and excellent judgment, and ultimately the decision will be theirs,” Hancock said when the College Football Playoff released selection details.

That Bill… what a card.

Yesterday, Pat Haden, selection committee member and USC athletic director (as we are about to see, not necessarily in that order), freaked out during the Southern Cal-Stanford game in response to a complaint by Steve Sarkisian about the officials throwing too many penalty flags, and, well

Haden jogged across Stanford Stadium field between the third and fourth quarters of USC’s 13-10 victory after he said he received a text message saying USC Coach Steve Sarkisian wanted to talk to him…

Television cameras showed Haden as he stood next to Sarkisian on the sideline, engaged in an animated conversation with officials.

At one point, a broadcaster said Sarkisian had to pull a “fired up” Haden back from the discussion.

The optics, to say the least, are terrible.

The decision by Haden to run to the sideline to assist his coach is now raising eyebrows — not just because of its bizarre nature — but because Haden is part of the 13-member College Football Playoff selection committee…

Haden is recused from voting for USC in the selection process, but his actions Saturday bring into question the biases committee members take into the selection process.

Ya’ think?  Maybe not, if you’re Pat Haden.

Asked after the game if he was concerned about the appearance created by a member of the selection committee on the field engaging the officials, Haden shook his head and said, “I’m the athletic director of my team as well.”

As long as you’ve got your priorities straight, I guess that makes it okay.  Even if Bill Hancock’s gone all Stacey Osburn on us.

Through a spokeswoman, College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock declined to comment on Haden’s sideline incident because he had not had a chance to see it.

Maybe he can wait until next February to watch it.


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Playoff selection committee to America: trust us!

Year2 picks up a revealing quote from Stewart Mandel’s column on Michigan State-Oregon.

“When [committee members] are comparing and contrasting teams, part of it will be the elements that go into a schedule,” he said. “It’s probably not going to be very satisfying to a lot of the analytics community that wants formulas. ‘We looked at Stanford’s schedule and it was 46.45 and Alabama’s was 46.34, so then Stanford’s is better.’ We’re not looking at it that way, and the committee’s not looking at it that way.

“… We could build a fancy algorithm, but kind of how the Supreme Court said you know pornography when you see it, you just know a hard schedule when you see it.”

That quote isn’t from Bill Hancock, or one of the committee members.  It’s from Stephen Prather, the guy who’s providing the committee with its data.  The stat geek, in other words.

We’ve gone from relying on computer models for which the specifics were kept undisclosed to relying on people for whom we’ll never really know what specific data swayed them in deciding on which four football teams are most deserving of appearing in a national semi-final.  (Notice I didn’t use the word “best”.)  I’m not seeing where that’s really much of an improvement.  And at least you can’t lobby a computer.

I mockingly noted in a Twitter discussion today that it’s all good because Jeff Long has repeatedly assured us that the selection process will be transparent.  There’s a certain sense of being detached from reality for a guy with his management track record to insist that he knows everything will work.


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“There’s so much information out there.”

Despite all the assurances about the members’ college football smarts and the wealth of information to be made available to each selection committee person, somebody’s worried about the dissemination of information, or something, because here’s the next genius move:

The College Football Playoff selection committee has finalized what it calls “point persons” to gather material about teams in each conference and independent schools.

In an attempt to make sure no facts go overlooked, the 13-member selection committee assigned two people to fully review each conference and the independents…

Bill Hancock, executive director of the playoff, said conferences will designate someone — most likely their commissioner — to funnel information to their selection-committee contacts. Schools can also choose to provide information to the selection-committee contacts.

The point-person process is similar to what the NCAA basketball tournament selection committee uses. Examples of information that football playoff committee point persons may collect include injury updates, Hancock said.

Other types of information “could be things like this team maybe has played better in the last two games because the left tackle is developing,” Hancock said. “Or things like, ‘Hey, remember this team won all of its nonconference games by relying on the run and now they’ve become more diversified.'”

So what we’ve got here is people set up to receive spin from the conferences who in turn can spin the spin to the committee.

“They will not speak on behalf of any conference or institution during the committee’s deliberations or represent any conference’s or independent institution’s interests during those deliberations,” the statement said. “Their function is to gather information and ensure that it is available to the committee. Their role as a liaison to a particular conference or independent institution is purely for the purpose of objective fact-gathering.”

Yeah, right.  You can sense the oncoming train wreck, can’t you?


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A Stewart Mandel teachable moment

Interesting hypothetical from this week’s Mailbag, which riffed off an earlier prediction of his that this year’s predicted playoff field would be comprised of No. 1 Florida State, No. 2 Auburn, No. 3 UCLA and No. 4 Georgia:

Of course I will admit the UGA/Auburn scenario might be a tad far-fetched. While we know it’s entirely possible, if not likely, that two SEC teams will get in, we assume they’d come from the same division. In this case, I’m picking the Dawgs and Tigers to both get in after meeting twice. I have Georgia winning the Nov. 15 meeting in Athens, then Auburn winning the Dec. 7 rematch in Atlanta.

If this were the BCS, Georgia would be done. In the playoff, however, if the committee feels the Dawgs are still one of the best four teams, then so be it. They’d have a strong case, too, having beaten three preseason Top 15 teams in Auburn, Clemson and South Carolina. They probably would have to be undefeated going into the SEC title game, though, and maybe that’s a stretch. But hey, the committee’s going to pick the best four teams; as of today I think FSU, Auburn, UCLA and Georgia are the best four teams.

That’s really the big question we have right now, isn’t it?  What kind of selection committee do we have?  Is Mandel being realistic here?  I have my doubts, even if Auburn and Georgia both finish with only one loss, because that SECCG result is going to be fresh on the minds of a number of people who are going to be prone to spreading the playoff slots around to the power conferences.  Not to mention that if the committee let both in, it could be setting up a potential third meeting between the two in consecutive months.

I’d like him to be right, even if the two schools are from another conference.  I suspect his buddies from Montana would agree.  But none of us are serving on that committee.


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“I’m not going to root for chaos, but it’s going to come.”

Mark Schlabach talks to the guys who got crapped on the most during the BCS era, the computer dudes.  And, yeah, maybe some of what they say comes off tinged with a bit of sour grapes to it.

“It’s going to be very interesting to see whether college football fans accept the decrees from a committee that’s meeting behind closed doors,” Anderson said. “Thirteen is a pretty small number. The BCS relied on 167 poll voters [62 coaches and 105 voters in the Harris Interactive Poll] and six computers. It’s an extremely small group. Who knows what they’re going to come up with. Clearly, the support was there for a four-team playoff. I don’t think the support was there for a selection committee. I think it’s a decision they’ll regret.”

But this doesn’t.

Colley says picking four teams will be more difficult than choosing two.

“One thing people don’t realize is that mathematically it’s harder to separate a No. 5 [team] from a No. 4 than it is a No. 2 from a No. 3,” Colley said. “What’s the difference between the 51st team and the 50th? It’s indifferent. I think there will be more reason to debate the merits of four versus five than there was with two versus three. I think you will see a pretty good debate on four versus five in most years.”

Until they go to an eight-team format, that is.  Lather, rinse, repeat.


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Why we can’t have nice postseasons.

Gary Laney neatly distills why the four-team playoff format is toast, even before the first one has been set.

A season ago, neither Baylor nor Michigan State, champions of the Big 12 and Big Ten, respectively, would have made the tournament, College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said.

Instead, both Alabama and Auburn would have made it out of the SEC, along with Florida State and Oregon.

When that happens in the future, it won’t be analogous to other postseason snubs like, say, the NCAA basketball tournament. The first team left out of that tournament is the 38th team in line, aside from the 31 conference champions that qualify automatically.

In this case, the selection committee will always leave out at least one major conference champion, even in years when it doesn’t pick two teams from one conference.  [Emphasis added.]

That is exactly why I’ve bitched about bracket creep for years.  The system they’ve built is unstable.  And it’s not predicated on settling it on the field, or having the best teams.  It’s about sharing the wealth.  Eventually, that’s why they’ve got to expand, because leaving a member of the Big Five out every year isn’t going to set well with the people running the game.

They’ll no doubt use us fans as an excuse, the first time there’s a selection controversy, because that will be convenient.  But the thing is, the move to eight, if it’s done as Laney describes – all major conference champions to get in, plus a few at-large berths – isn’t going to make things any more stable.  Because there will come a year when a major conference team that didn’t win its conference and is excluded from the playoff field is better than some teams that do qualify.  And there’s only one cure for that fever.

It won’t stop until there’s no more money being thrown at it.


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