Sometime in the next two months, Bill Hancock and the leadership of the College Football Playoff will stroll out of a hotel board room and unveil the selection committee that will choose the participants for the sport's first four-team playoff. If you've seen Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, to some it will be something like the scene where the eccentric candy maker finally reveals his face to the world and meets the five children lucky enough to tour his mysterious factory.
In this reality, Wisconsin athletics director Barry Alvarez will stand in for Augustus Gloop, College Football Hall of Famer Archie Manning will take the place of Mike Teevee, and the college football media will spend the next 10 weeks standing outside the factory gates, speculating on who the next lucky person to receive Hancock's golden ticket. (Think of Manning as just a stand in for the type of irreproachable, gold-star name that will bolster the committee roster. Considering how little he has to gain from participating in this endeavor, he may well turn down an invitation. I know I would if I were in his shoes.)
And it will all be a gigantic waste of time. We already know who's going on the selection committee, even if we're yet to learn their names.
From what Hancock has revealed to the press at this point, we can gather enough to know the committee will be comprised of an athletics director from each major FBS conference and a handful of college football luminaries with enough of a reputation to stand beyond major objections. Alvarez is as good as gold to represent the Big Ten - he's a former coach and, let's be honest, the guy lives for this kind of stuff - and Manning is a good representative of someone everyone in the sport can agree on.
Beyond that, it doesn't matter the identity of the rest of the committee because they'll all essentially be the same person. An administrator who's been around football for at least two decades, who has no obvious bias for or against any particular school or region, who has enough football equity to understand the difference between a one-loss SEC runner-up and an undefeated ACC champion and who is articulate enough to explain his argument. If you can't do that, or if you reveal any radical opinions or closeted skeletons during the vetting process, you're not going inside the factory.
It doesn't make a difference whether it's Washington's athletics director or Oregon State's athletics director on the committee, because who ever is actually chosen as the Pac-12's delegate is just a representation of an ideal. And, with all due respect for both men, how many college football fans could even spot Bob De Carolis and Scott Woodward on the street, or even match them with the correct school?
As long as the entire committee is willing to openly communicate throughout the process, be consistent and transparent in their methodology, and is capable of thoroughly and intelligently explain their decisions, that's all we can really ask for. The rest is just football gossip & page view drama.
Here's something else we already know: come next December, it will be Hancock and two senior committee members telling the cameras why they chose Stanford instead of Oklahoma.
The rest of the group will be in the background, sucking on some Everlasting Gobstoppers.