CHICAGO -- Two years ago, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith chaired the NCAA men's basketball tournament selection committee and had to explain why UAB made it into the field and Alabama did not.
Telling Alabama's basketball team it missed out on March Madness is a tough job. Telling Alabama's football team it missed out on the College Football Playoff is a much, much tougher job.
"Whoever it is," Smith said, "get that flak jacket ready."
It likely won't be Smith. When asked at the Big Ten spring meetings about participating in Sports Illustrated's mock college football selection committee last season, Smith joked, "Thank God it was mock."
Smith thinks there might be clarity in selecting the top two teams for the four-team playoff. But filling the final two spots from a pool of deserving teams will create "the same old debate" that currently exists with the BCS system.
That's why Smith thinks the committee needs crystal-clear guidelines for how to evaluate the teams vying for the Playoff.
"The reason in my view the basketball tournament has worked so well," Smith said, "and you can always argue the last four in, the last four out, but the policies and procedures and guidelines are solid. You've got to have that. And then you have to have people who are willing to watch the games."
Committee members can't just watch the final minutes of the fourth quarters of games. Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez recalled a recent conversation he had with SEC commissioner Mike Slive, who served on the NCAA basketball selection committee from 2004-09. Slive talked about watching basketball games after he woke up in the morning, during lunch and late at night.
"He figured the time that he spent on that basketball committee took a year of his life," Alvarez said. "So if you're doing it right, you're going to spend a lot of time watching film. ... And you've got to know what the hell you're watching. Just watching film doesn't do any good, I used to tell that to my players. You've got to know what you're looking at and looking for."
The time commitment could deter those currently serving in college athletics from committee posts. Smith thinks Alvarez has what it takes to serve.
"He'd be the perfect pick," Smith said. "I'm promoting Barry."