One of the most important questions remaining for the four-team playoff is who will choose the teams.
In the best-case scenario for the ACC -- i.e. the most fair -- the selection committee would be comprised of 16 people, and it would be a mix of eight former coaches and eight current athletic directors (one from each of the six current BCS conferences and a rotation of two others). During the selection process, if one person was affiliated with a team being considered, he or she would have to leave the room (just as they are asked to do for the NCAA tournament).
“I think it needs to be large enough that only selecting four teams -- there may be part of the committee that has particular ties to half a dozen teams being considered -- that the committee is large enough that some people may need to take themselves out of that discussion,” ACC commissioner John Swofford said. “We haven’t decided on it, but I would guess you’re looking at at least a dozen and probably more than that.”
No current coaches, please.
And definitely no media.
Current coaches don’t even have enough time to pay attention to their families during the season, let alone teams that aren’t on their schedules. And media members? Puh-lease. The ACC’s reputation as “the fifth-best conference” in college football is stuck in the heads of too many already, and the perceived strength of the conference -- or lack thereof -- could unfairly leave a deserving ACC team on the outside looking in.
Head-to-head results must matter. Strength of schedule must be a factor. And, most importantly, preference must be given to conference champions.
What happens if Wake Forest goes undefeated, beats Notre Dame and Florida State along the way, but is trying to elbow a one-loss Alabama team or a one-loss Oregon team for the final spot? The win-loss column can’t be undervalued.
Transparency is the buzzword, and that’s why it would be good for athletic directors to comprise part of the committee. Knowing their reputations would be at stake, they would be forced to make fair decisions because they would be scrutinized by the most ravenous of college football fans. Former coaches such as Bobby Bowden who have the time, interest and knowledge of the game would give educated input on which teams made the fewest mistakes, which were the most disciplined, and which teams executed like they were supposed to without too many missed assignments or mental errors.
What the ACC needs is as little perceived bias as humanly possible -- an oxymoron? -- in order to have a fair chance at cracking the top four.