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5 ways to improve college football’s Selection Sunday

The ESPN show will remain three hours long regardless, so we might as well have some more fun with it.

Bill Hancock of the College Football Playoff Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports. Banner Society illustration.

College football’s bowl-announcements day has gotten a little more orderly in recent years. The free-for-all used to last all through the last half of November, but now it’s pretty confined to a wild scramble after the Playoff committee announces its four semifinalists around 12:15 p.m. ET on ESPN and (like three hours later on the same show) its New Year’s Six games and top-25 rankings.

After that, each regular-person bowl lines up in its spots in the queues, and by around 6 p.m. ET, we usually have a complete bowl calendar!

The last part is pretty fun mayhem, even if you’re just sitting online and looking at tweets. I think we should leave the “will the Arizona Bowl pick a team or not?” and “Louisiana Tech would rather play no bowls than play ULM” chaos exactly the same as it is now.

The first part, though? People gripe hard about the TV portion.

While the obvious way to improve ESPN’s Selection Sunday show would be to make it much shorter — the FCS playoffs broadcast needs 30 minutes to announce 24 teams, but the FBS show needs 120 for four? — that’s not gonna happen. ESPN likes money as much as you and I do.

However! We can still make it worthwhile.

1. Make the committee rep announce the field in front of a hostile audience, by Alex

Right now, the people in charge have it easy. They pass the picks to ESPN, and Rece Davis announces them in studio. Then, the committee chairperson sits for an interview with the network. That interview is fine, but it often doesn’t yield coherent explanations, and it’s not especially confrontational.

I say it’s time to dial up the tension.

Make the spokesperson announce the picks personally, in front of a live crowd, with ticket allotments for fans from every team in the hunt. When the chair reveals the last team in, fans of the #5 team would boo the hell out of the suit at the podium. This should be like a presidential primary debate auditorium when a candidate suggests cutting Social Security.

This next idea might remove some suspense from the process, but I’d also be fine with requiring the chair to travel to the campus of the first team out, and make the announcement from there. It’s not like the #5 team is ever a big school with tons of furious fans or anything.

2. Use the motion of no confidence, by Ryan

In some governments, the parliament has the power to pass a motion of no confidence, which could force the minister to resign or trigger a new election. Most countries have never used this power successfully, because running a country is serious and forcing the ruling government out is a seismic action.

College football is much less serious! I propose we do away with Selection Sunday as a set date and instead make the Playoff a thing that is only called when the committee determines it lacks sufficient confidence in the defending champion. They can do this whenever they choose; in 2019, for example, the committee could have seen UNC fall one two-point conversion short of upsetting Clemson and, on September 28, called for a Playoff within the next month.

Naturally, we’d set some limitations:

  1. The committee can only pass a motion of no confidence during football season, and it can pass no more than two such motions during a single season.
  2. If the committee goes two full seasons without passing a motion of no confidence, the start of the following year is replaced by a Playoff.
  3. When the committee passes a motion of no confidence, a Playoff must take place within the next month. Any games that conflict with the Playoff schedule are canceled, with any contractual penalty paid out by the NCAA.

Boom. Now you’ve got a season with a Playoff in October because September got real weird. And if November goes poorly for the new champ? Another Playoff in December.

3. Replace the Playoff committee with a coaches megacast, by Jason

Why do we have a King Of All Athletic Directors telling us what a group of athletic directors think? Who asked for this? Whom was this for? If I want to know more about getting my golf buddies to pay for a $100 million vestibule to put on top of our athletic building’s $50 million vestibule without anyone telling me I’m personally robbing student-athletes, I’ll ask an athletic director how to do it. Otherwise, I am not interested in what they have to say.

Instead, we’ll get an enormous plate of nachos. We’ll put it in the middle of Paul Johnson, Mark Richt, Dino Babers, Gary Patterson, Herm Edwards, Nick Rolovich, Les Miles, and whoever else you want. They will then banter while looking at film of the eight or so teams in question.

This will continue until they agree on a top four. It could take them 30 seconds. It could take them 30 days. There might be physical combat. The process will be the process. We will all happily watch every minute of it.

4. Let the WWE produce the show, by Godfrey

Critics of ESPN’s involvement in the construction of the Playoff will tell you “it’s all a work,” wrasslin’ slang for made-up. To hell with defending the credibility of the Playoff; this ain’t journalism, it’s TV. So get Vince McMahon, the creator of the 52-week narrative, to orchestrate an entertaining, three-hour finale.

All you need is a live stage in Bristol and all parties present. Fly in six or so head coaches and maybe a few players. This is where you’ll “blow off” (end) smaller “programs” (storylines) like Finebaum vs. Utah in the first hour in favor of a show-ending MAIN EVENT CONTRACT SIGNING between Orgeron, Dabo, and Day for the TRIPLE THREAT (Oklahoma has already been laid out on the canvas). You laugh, but no TV producer in the history of the medium is better at pushing a narrative arc forward than WWE. Also there is constant pyro.

Also Georgia is a dark match. That means they were cut for time because the “truck” (the producers) thought they were too boring.

5. Go late-stage NFL Draft with it, by Richard

The only good part of the NFL Draft-watching experience is when a parakeet delivers the sixth round compensatory pick from space or whatever. Let’s get weird with all the Playoff picks and especially the New Year’s Six.

Boise to the Cotton Bowl? Announce it while riding a bronco. Notre Dame as the #4 seed? Interrupt a mass and deliver homily style. Clemson wants to have a pizza party for its Playoff selection? Bake a pizza in the shape of their ranking number, or you’re all a bunch of cowards.

If you’re going to make me sit three hours through this thing, up the production value. I’d rather watch that than my out-of-the-playoffs NFL team on a December Sunday.