To be perfectly clear at the start: The College Football Playoff sucks. It will probably always suck, having recently achieved the dual feat of 1) keeping an undefeated Group of Five team out (not all that novel) and 2) somehow giving an 8-2 Iowa State team the appearance of entitled assholes as part of that snub (quite impressive). No proposal I can offer will make the Playoff not suck.
But so long as college football is stuck with the Playoff, we can make it more entertaining with one simple change.
Let’s pick every member of the Selection Committee in a national election.
You may not be familiar with how the Selection Committee is, um, selected, so I’ll review the status quo briefly. There are 13 members of the Playoff Selection Committee, most of whom are athletic directors, with some former coaches and players and maybe a journalist (gross) thrown in. Who picks those Committee members? The College Football Playoff Management Committee, which is made up of the 10 FBS conference commissioners and Notre Dame’s AD (also gross). Who oversees the decisions of the Management Committee? The 11 university presidents and chancellors that sit on the CFP Board of Managers.
I apologize for this ancient meme, but:
This is also a literal oligarchy, and if the Founders had wanted college football to be run by a bunch of ADs and school presidents, they would have said so in the Constitution.
Yes, I am ready to accept a nomination to a Circuit Court judgeship.
Beyond the airtight legal argument, the Playoff Committee’s already built for democracy. All the spots are term-limited at three years, and members are not eligible for reappointment. There are also extensive rules about when members have to recuse themselves due to a conflict of interest. (Kelly Loeffler, don’t look at this next part.) Those are two pretty useful parts of a functioning representative body. So why not just go ahead and make the Playoff Committee representative by embracing public elections?
Here’s what the Playoff website lists as its criteria for member selection:
The top criteria are knowledge and integrity. There are five categories of members: people with experience as (1) coaches, (2) student-athletes, (3) administrators, (4) journalists and also (5) sitting directors of athletics. The Management Committee gives careful consideration to the standards for membership and to identifying high-integrity individuals who meet the criteria. Among the other valued attributes are football expertise, objectivity, ability to carefully evaluate and discern information, and experience in making decisions under scrutiny. Members are asked to commit significant time to the endeavor.
Other than listing the five categories, that’s an incredibly vague list of standards. Is there some sort of Objectivity Assessment Metric I’m not aware of? Are they worried that their own subjectivity is throwing the Objectivity measurement off?
And because these decisions all happen in secret, we don’t even know whether the Management Committee’s sticking to those rules. If sunshine is the best disinfectant, let’s get this whole process naked and throw it on Democracy Beach. That will force aspiring members to lay out their own views for the public and defend their ideals in civilized debate. (They will promptly abandon those views and ideals once elected, but we’re all used to that.)
Will this lead to corrupt or incompetent members making it onto the Committee? Maybe! But it also means we’ll get to boo those members specifically instead of just being mad at some hazy assembly of administrators who make Gary Barta speak on their behalf.
If you’re still not convinced, consider this: The commercials are going to be tremendously batshit. JEFF LONG: BAD FOR CONFERENCE USA, BAD FOR AMERICA. VOTE TERRY BRADSHAW ON AUGUST 10TH.