When the conference commissioners decided to do away with polls and computers in favor of a selection committee, we warned that come March everyone would be reminded of all the things they dislike about selection committees. Here we are. And with people complaining about the sheer randomness of the seeding process as well as the hard-to-figure out invitation process for the final four or five bubble teams, it should all be quite worrisome for college football fans. If there’s this much debate over 68 teams, how hot will temperatures rise when we’re talking about a bracket that will include only four teams?
The good news is that the football panel will have a former Secretary of State, a retired Air Force lieutenant general, and a career basketball man to help pick the teams and set the matchups. Yes. That was sarcasm.
If anything, the 13-member football panel should expect to receive even more hate mail than the hoops group. As we noted above, more teams will be getting turn-downs in football. And American sports fans are also more passionate about college football. (Check the TV ratings and recent TV contracts if you need proof.) There will be some serious howling when a team ranked in the top four of all the (now meaningless) polls gets jumped by a fifth- or sixth-ranked team that won its league. Top 25ish SMU not getting one of 36 at-large bids? Try an SEC runner-up getting bounced by a lesser-ranked Big Ten champ.
Every March we’re treated to Jay Bilas and Dick Vitale and Seth Davis and Andy Katz telling us what the hoops committee got wrong. Set your DVRs. This December we’ll get another batch of analysts telling us everything the football committee botched in carrying out its duties. So prepare yourself right now to be disappointed. We see no way the College Football Playoff selection committee escapes controversy. The basketball committee never does.
That last point – how often do we bitch about ESPN’s narrative? Is there any reason to think the selection committee will be immune from that? Of course not. A couple of loudly trumpeted “controversies” about a deserving number five and we’ll find ourselves in the same kind of mess that playoff proponents insisted the BCS created.
We’ve got playoff fever. And the only prescription is more playoff.