Selection committee considered

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- Commissioners of the 11 Football Bowl Subdivisions conferences are still considering a proposal that would use a selection committee to choose the teams for a potential four-team playoff, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott and SEC commissioner Michael Slive said after BCS meetings on Wednesday.

Using a committee similar to the one used to select the 68-team field for the NCAA men's basketball committee is just one of the proposals being discussed and debated in daylong meetings at a beachside resort here.

There's a lot of open issues about how you select the four teams that are in. Is it current BCS standings, conference champions, some change to the ways the computers work to emphasize strength of schedule or a committee? How do you pick the teams?
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott

FBS conference commissioners, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, network TV executives and other college football officials will meet again on Thursday. Commissioners will then take the proposals back to their respective university presidents, athletic directors and coaches.

A final decision about changing the format in how college football determines its national champion probably would come before the end of the summer, possibly as early as late June.

A selection committee was first proposed a few months ago, but didn't seem to carry much weight at the time. Under current BCS rules, the top two teams in the final BCS standings play in the Allstate BCS National Championship Game.

If conference commissioners approve a four-team playoff, which would pit four teams in two semifinal games and the winners in a championship game, a selection committee could choose the teams, or the BCS standings could be tweaked to put greater emphasis on factors such as strength of schedule.

"I think (a committee) is worth looking at," Slive said. "I think in the final analysis, we need to look at the entire process. That's a matter that applies to any format."

Scott said commissioners spent more than four hours on Wednesday discussing how the teams would be selected in a four-team playoff.

"There's a lot of open issues about how you select the four teams that are in," Scott said. "Is it current BCS standings, conference champions, some change to the ways the computers work to emphasize strength of schedule or a committee? How do you pick the teams? That might impact how the Pac-12 feels about a particular model."

Scott wasn't ready to say that he would embrace a selection committee because he prefers a more objective approach to selecting the teams to play for a national championship.

"I'm trying to stay open-minded about how a committee could work," Scott said. "In basketball, it's established. At first blush, it feels a little counterintuitive to me in how the world has gone and what I think our fans want, which is more objective and more transparent and utilizing technology. I think this is an opportunity for college football to leapfrog forward and to write some more objective system. It doesn't mean that committees can't work, but it just wouldn't have been my first thought."

Scott said if college football decides to expand its championship format beyond two teams it needs to make sure the selection process is transparent.

"I think if we're going to expand beyond (numbers) 1 and 2, we all accept that there's a lot of subjectivity," Scott said. "The difference between 2 and 3 could be a decimal point. If -- and I keep underlining if because it's not a foregone conclusion that we'll get there -- we go to a four-team playoff we're essentially going to put more stock in a more credible, objective, fair system of balance and strength of schedule because we all don't play over the same course. Every conference has different caliber, some conferences play nine conference games and some play eight, some play stronger out-of-conference competition and some tend to not and just want to get home games. There are a lot of variables."

Scott also favors a proposal that would allow only conference champions to participate in a playoff. Last season, No. 2 Alabama defeated No. 1 LSU 21-0 in the BCS National Championship Game, after the Crimson Tide didn't win the SEC or SEC West.

"We're warm to that idea, for sure, and we're having a good discussion and exchange of ideas about it," Scott said. "There's certainly no consensus in the room. I'm in favor of more objective criteria and rewarding performances in the regular season than less subjective, like a team getting in a playoff versus not based on a decimal point change here or there. It doesn't feel very satisfactory, especially when you don't understand how the formulas work. Earning it on the field and placing value on the regular season are principles that we feel strong about. (Under a conference champions-only plan) everyone knows the deal at the beginning of the year."

Slive said he was opposed to the conference champions-only proposal, saying he preferred to choose the best four teams, regardless of whether they won their conference championships or not.

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