Now that at least some of the details behind the new college football playoff have been fleshed out, the attention has turned to probably the most important question: who decides who gets in?
All we know at this point is who WON'T be on that committee. According to executive director Bill Hancock, current FBS league commissioners, head coaches and media members will not be eligible. Current ADs may be eligible, like they are for the NCAA Basketball selection committee, but Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley, one of the most plugged in ADs in the country, says he's "heard" current athletic directors ultimately would not be chosen for the committee.
The reasons for those stipulations seem pretty clear. Being a member of the football committee is going to be a huge job, and it will be hard to balance those responsibilities with a demanding day job. Accusations of bias or manipulation will also be hard to defend against if sitting coaches were on the committee as well. Well Coach Saban, it looks like your ballot reads Alabama, New Mexico State, Western Carolina, and Ohio State-Newark. Interesting...
Anybody who has studied the AP or the Coaches Poll also knows one of the worst kept secrets in college football: lots of people don't watch teams from all over the country. Coaches are typically handing their ballots off to some lower level flunky, and local media guys don't have much of an incentive to study games outside of their market, leading to some weird ballots. When you add that up to the potential conflict of interests given how certain media companies have invested in particular athletic programs or conferences (hi, ESPN), defending sitting media members from bias accusations may also be a tall order. Can you imagine, for example, if Mike Bianchi was selected to the committee? You'd be able to see the fires in Gainesville and Columbus from SPACE.
So you're left with a bit of a pickle then. You have have to find individuals who know football, not just locally, but ideally nationally, who have credibility, aren't currently employed in "the system", and have high integrity (Hancock says members will be background checked, ideally by a firm more reputable than the one who handled the Rutgers AD hiring). That's a tall order no?
Luckily, we're here to help. Here are a handful of names that we think would stand a fair chance at being "confirmed", as it will, by the College Football Universe, and could be counted on to do a good job.
Archie Manning-Former Ole Miss QB, NFL, possessor of excellent DNA
Manning wwould have to quit doing work with CBS, but I think that's a trade that most folks would be fine making. Manning has been reported as one of the most respected names in the football community, and is perhaps one of the few obviously "southern" names that wouldn't make northern or western football fans roll the eyes. His history and involvement in the game of football is beyond dispute.
Tom Osborne-Former Nebraska coach, AD, US Representative
I think it would be hard to find a more credible football mind from the heartland than Osborne, who has touched just about every level of the game. He's also wildly respected and would bring regional balance and expertise.
Barry Alvarez-former Wisconsin coach, current AD
So we don't know for a FACT that sitting ADs can't be on the committee. If they can, then Alvarez is a slam dunk. He's the guy that other ADs call instead of using a search firm (except for you, Rutgers. How's that working out for you again?). His football acumen should be beyond dispute as well, as he laid the foundation to turn rinky dink Wisconsin into a legitimate football program, and built it strong enough that Bert wasn't able to tear it apart.
Chris Ault-Former Nevada coach
Not only is Ault an important ambassador of "Mid Major Football", having built a winner at Nevada, but he's also the godfather of the Pistol offense, which is now sweeping all levels of football by storm. There is no time like present to reward one of football's most innovative and creative minds.
LaVell Edwards-Former BYU coach
Edwards would be my other non-BCS pick. Edwards coaxed a national title, a Heisman Trophy, two Outland Trophies and 31 All-Americans out of his time at BYU, while helping create one of the most exciting offenses in the country. A Hall of Famer and the namesake of BYU's stadium, his credibility and knowledge are as strong as they come.
Howard Schnellenberger-Former Miami, Louisville, Oklahoma, FAU coach, Internet legend.
You don't become universally beloved for just suspenders and an affinity for pipes, although that certainly helps. Schnellenberger has been around nearly ever facet of football, from running a power program to literally starting from scratch.
Terry Donahue-Former UCLA coach, NFL GM
Donahue can bring a west coast flavor to the selection committee, boasting more Pac 12 conference wins than anybody from his time at UCLA, winning the Pac-12 (er, 10) 5 times. He's also been an NFL GM, if knowledge of football at multiple levels will impress anybody, and is a current Legends Poll voter, so we know he's watching football outside of California.
Mike Tranghese-Former Big East commissioner
Tranghese can bring some additional administrative chops to a coaching-dominated group, along with relative youth, intelligence, and geographic balance. He's also chaired the selection process for men's basketball, providing useful perspectives.
Barry Switzer-Former Oklahoma, Dallas Cowboys coach
If there isn't a guy on this committee who gives out hundred dollar handshakes, then this committee doesn't represent college football.
Vince Dooley-Former Georgia coach, AD
Dooley is another name that is often suggested for this sorts of lists, given his respectability in the football fraternity, and his excellent career as a coach and administrator for Georgia. Dooley won a national title and 6 SEC titles, and he's been working as a consultant for Kennesaw State as they start to build a football program.
Larry Kehres-Former Mount Union (OH) coach, AD
This is a bit of an outside the box suggestion, but one that makes more sense than some of the politicians thrown out for this job. There aren't many coaches, period, who have been more successful than Kehres was at Mount Union, displaying an impressive football knowledge. He's also been respected by his peers enough to hold leadership positions in the AFCA. At D3, he's shown that he knows his way around a playoff system as well.
Pat Dye-Former Auburn coach, AD
Dye is a Legends Poll voter, worked at ECU and Wyoming before an illustrious career at Auburn, and worked as an AD for a decade, giving him all the football experience he'd need to be an effective committee member. The idea of having Dye and Dooley, but no Bama guys on the committee would probably make heads explode in Birmingham, which could be a nice additional bonus. He's also add, ahem, let's say flavor, to the proceedings.
Steve Hatchell-Former Big 12 commissioner, CEO of National Football Foundation, operates College Hall of Fame
Probably one of the strongest non-coaching, non-AD suggestions out there, Hatchell has been around the game at the administrative level in several capacities (even running a bowl!) and has high credibility with his peers.
Jim Tressel-Former Youngstown State, Ohio State coach, something or another at Akron, notorious outlaw
Jim Tressel knew he was going to be on this committee last April.
Aww, don't look at me like that. It's not like he's that busy or anything.
It's not perfect, as any group that requires members to be retired is going to skew pretty old, but it's a good starter list. Who do you guys think should be on the selection commitee? What we should we look for in a good committee member?