Three and Out - It's time to start worrying about the CFB Playoff
For most college football observers, the College Football Playoff is a bridge miles and miles away from being crossed. The Playoff won't truly come to the forefront until December 2014 and, obviously, the entire 2013 season, plus the remainder of this off-season and the entire 2014 off-season still lies between today and the first Selection Sunday. But the Playoff's structure is taking shape now, and the time to worry about a snake is when it escapes its cage, not when its looking at your ankle like a finely-grilled steak.
1. In today's Mailbag, SI.com's Stewart Mandel fields a question about the make-up of the College Football Playoff's selection committee. It's arguably the most crucial portion of the entire Playoff, and it's one of the few major decisions yet to be rendered. Each conference was asked to submit a list of names and, while no one but those involved knows exactly who's on the list, consensus says the committee will consist of a combination of former administrators, former coaches, former players and possibly former media members. Mandel throws out three names - Tom Osborne, Phil Steele and Mike Tranghese - as examples of the types of names we could see on the finalized committee come 2014. No one is going to doubt the resumes and accomplishments of Nebraska coaching legend Osborne and former Big East commissioner Tranghese, for example, but what do they know about the college football landscape in 2014?
The same goes for a list produced by Tony Barnhart last month that has served as the closest thing we have to a rough draft to date. With names like Jack Ford, Condoleezza Rice, and Roy Kramer, it's a group that can stack its collective accomplishments from here to the moon. But what does that have to do with their ability to compare and contrast 2014 Oregon vs. 2014 Ohio State vs. 2014 LSU vs. 2014 Florida State? A national championship won in 1981, a Master's degree and a best-selling book are impressive feats, but they say nothing about fairly and accurately forecasting the four best college football teams in America. And with the amount of dollars and jobs sitting in their collective hands, the powers that be should seek a committee that can best accomplish the ladder and not be starstruck by the former.
2. Michael Kelly, the Chief Operating Officer of the College Football Playoff, stated Wednesday at the College Athletics Business Management Association (CABMA) annual convention that the semifinals will operate under the normal bowl schedule. That means teams will be required to arrive on site close to a week before the game. Assuming Kelly is correct, and we have no reason to think otherwise, that shows that no matter how far the game has come in the last 18 months, the bowl industry still has college football wrapped around its finger. While coaches would understandably prefer to focus their team on, you know, winning a national semifinal game, they'll still be asked to preform the traditional dog-and-pony bowl traditions like a trip to the local amusement park or a night at the comedy club. Could college football even survive without the Lawry's Beef Bowl? (For the record, the championship game will be crafted much more closely to an actual playoff game, with teams arriving the Friday night before Championship Monday.)
3. According to Kelly, the proper way to refer to the playoff semifinals in the year it happens to be played at the Rose Bowl is "the College Football Playoff at the Rose Bowl." No offense to anyone involved in the naming process, but we, along with the rest of the public, will just refer to it as "the Rose Bowl."