Committee to reveal interim rankings

WASHINGTON -- In what was called "truly a historic day for college football," the 13 members of the College Football Playoff selection committee met Monday at the Marriott Wardman Park to get introduced to each other and begin discussing how they're going to choose the top four teams in the country next season.

While none of them would go so far as to give their thoughts on a one-loss Stanford team being ahead of an undefeated Baylor team in the current BCS standings, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice did say she has watched games this fall with a different perspective.

"I think it's impossible having been appointed to the committee not to view football games differently," Rice said. "I probably look more closely. I try to watch more games, which in my case is almost impossible since I already watch a lot of football.

"But it's not so much to say, 'Well, here's how I would be ranking them,' but what I ought to be looking for? What am I really seeing in this game that might help me when we get together for discussion? How am I thinking about what this team is showing on the field and what I've seen another team show on the field? It's more like that for me than this team I would be thinking of as stronger than that team."

The selection committee will meet here again Tuesday morning -- hours before Rice flies to London for a speaking engagement and then to the United Arab Emirates for a conference on foreign policy. On Monday, she'll return to teaching at Stanford.

Rice, like all of the committee members, has ties to at least one school, making the recusal process a top priority on the agenda.

"Certainly it is one of those high-priority items for us," said Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long, the chair of the committee. "If you look around this room, a number of us have worked at a number of different conferences, a number of institutions, so how we arrive at the ultimate recusal process is something this group will work on in the coming weeks and months ahead."

It's still too early in the process for many answers. This week's meetings instead were focused on recognizing the issues and having the committee members get to know each other.

"Decisions won't be made until further down the road," Long said.

One thing that has been determined is that the committee will reveal four interim rankings before the selection weekend. The members also have vowed to keep the process as public as possible.

"The commissioners have pledged the maximum amount of transparency possible," College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said. "This committee will look for ways to enhance the transparency."

The committee has said it will consider factors such as strength of schedule, head-to-head competition and other "basic components," but Long said the members will develop more specific metrics as they go forward.

"Each one of us will individually look at those different metrics differently and evaluate them differently, and then we'll come together as a group to come up with a group decision on the rankings," he said.

Long said the members won't "travel around like a bowl committee might" to scout the teams. Instead, their evaluations will be based on watching game film. Those within the committee are confident they can enhance the system from the current BCS standings -- and be able to defend it.

"I think college football fans across the country have been calling for a playoff system for some time," Long said, "and I think this committee gives us a chance to bring information all together into one place and make decisions based on the protocols and the policies and procedures we put in place and then be able to defend those ultimately top four teams that fill out the bowls."

The committee members sat around a table in a board room with name tags at their seats, but they've been well-known to fans since mid-October, when the group was announced.

"A few decision-makers in there," Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said as he walked out.

It's only a matter of time before the biggest decisions are made.