Few things bore/confuse/annoy college sports fans more than the NCAA's committee structure (tournament selection groups being the exceptions). But if there's one committee fans should start tracking, it's the newly formed football oversight committee.
After talking to many around college football for an upcoming project, it's clear a lot will ride on what this committee does in the coming months and years. Chaired by Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, the group met this week in Indianapolis. Dan Mullen is wrapping up spring practice at Mississippi State and couldn't attend, but the Bulldogs' coach joined via teleconference.
Mullen is the only current coach serving on the committee. He replaced Mark Richt, who had to drop out of the committee after transitioning from Georgia to Miami. The SEC had a coaching spot to fill, and when commissioner Greg Sankey reached out, Mullen jumped at the opportunity.
"It's a great honor for me," Mullen told ESPN.com on Thursday. "One of the most important things is to try to bring the voice of coaches or how coaches are going to approach things. As a coach, everyone gets in a very competitive mindset. You have to put that aside and look at what's best for the game."
Mullen, who also serves on the board of the American Football Coaches Association, will attend the oversight committee's next meeting in June. He will gather feedback from coaches working in different leagues and locations, and expects coaches to reach out to him as well.
Mullen doesn't think there's a single overriding issue the committee must tackle but mentioned player health and recruiting as two areas for discussion. The committee system has frustrated many around the sport because of the slow pace in enacting meaningful change, but Mullen thinks it can be done if members aren't driven by their individual affiliations.
"With where we're at, some of the autonomy things going on, you're able to separate a little bit and look at what's best for each division and group of schools," he said. "A rule that might be the best for a Power 5 team might not be best for the FCS Division. The important thing when you serve on a committee like this is to look at the big picture."
Coaches like Stanford's David Shaw have called for more standardization in college football, especially relating to scheduling and recruiting. While the Power 5 leagues still carry tremendous influence, especially over scheduling, Mullen hopes the committee can attempt to keep the schools "on an even playing ground."
The voting members of the committee include five athletic directors, three league commissioners, one athlete (Louisiana-Lafayette tight end Evan Tatford), two associate/deputy commissioners, a faculty representative and one coach.
"It's very important," Mullen said, "that all the voices get heard who are involved in the future of our game."