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Bobby Bowden would serve on playoff selection committee

Bobby Bowden AP

When Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany voice his support for a four-team playoff consisting of unofficially titled “four best teams” on Monday, it marked a turning point for playoff discussions.

With the BCS committee just a month or so away from a decision deadline, a few more playoff details are gaining traction: semifinal games incorporated into the bowl system with the championship game bid out annually, a la the Super Bowl; a field that likely will not feature conference champions only; and, with the Big Ten’s blessing, a committee that would select those four teams.

Let’s assume for the sake of this blog that college presidents/chancellors decide a selection committee, not a formula or ranking system, is the best way to determine the playoff field. The immediate fun/angst/controversy becomes a matter of who will serve on said committee.

You’ll probably need a committee for that too.

Anyway, a handful of fellas who know the game well — former coaches R.C. Slocum (Texas A&M), John Cooper (Ohio State and LaVell Edwards (BYU) — have already thrown their name into the proverbial hat for such a task provided the interest was mutual.

“I would be willing to serve on it,” Bowden told ESPN’s Joe Schad. “I think ex-coaches have a lot of wisdom. I watch the games. And I watch the game films on my iPad.”


All three former coaches have votes in the Legends Poll, which is composed of ex-coaches who watch game footage from across the country, participate in conference call discussions and vote. But, even if a selection committee is formed — sources have told CFT possible names include the “Dadgummit Committee” and “Old Fart: The Gathering” — the challenge becomes finding not only a diverse group of experienced and knowledgeable voters, but a group that is still in touch with today’s game.

The benefit of a selection committee is it has the capability of providing transparency and accountability, something that is sorely missing from the current postseason selection process. Want to take it a step further? Make a show out of the decision. Like college basketball or LeBron James or something.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. A selection committee is an idea that is only gaining traction at this point, but it could gain much more over the next month now that three of the four major conferences in college football have endorsed the idea.

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30 Responses to “Bobby Bowden would serve on playoff selection committee”
  1. jimbo75025 says: Jun 6, 2012 7:13 AM

    Bobby Bowden has an IPad?

    Next thing you know he will be shopping at Ms Priss’ Cat Emporium.

  2. weavergm says: Jun 6, 2012 7:36 AM

    He’s not too old to come find you, son!

  3. mdak06 says: Jun 6, 2012 7:57 AM

    The BCS rankings are a joke. A selection committee makes a lot of sense, and having folks like Bobby Bowden (and other non-active highly knowledgeable football folks) on that committee makes sense too. It wouldn’t have to be just “old farts” … it could be some retired NFL players as well. They should be hired and be required to watch a certain amount of game film during the season so they are educated enough to do the job well.

    At that point, the system will probably work well. The committee could be instructed to consider certain factors and then render a decision. And regardless of what folks think, there is no way to make the selection truly “objective.”

    One question that some folks don’t ask is which is better or worse – a very tough overall schedule with one “bad” loss, or a moderately tough overall schedule with one “good” loss? You’ll have strong arguments on both sides, and there isn’t any objective answer.

    One thing that apparently won’t happen soon is a more-than-four team playoff, and that’s sad. At least eight teams is preferable; otherwise you are going to have years where you are leaving deserving zero-loss or one-loss teams out of the picture.

    Hopefully, once the university presidents and others realize how much money they’re leaving on the table by not moving to an eight-team playoff, they’ll change their mind about only having four teams.

  4. alligatorsnapper says: Jun 6, 2012 8:05 AM

    So they will substitute the coaches poll with the objective standard of a small group of ex-coaches and that makes it more objective? How about refining the computer rankings to eliminate biases (which has worked in trial runs). Make the computer rankings and criterium transparent, with standards of measurement which consider all factors, including strength of schedule, playing on the road, etc.

    mdako6: Maybe that will be the saving fact of this situation: “…Hopefully, once the university presidents and others realize how much money they’re leaving on the table by not moving to an eight-team playoff, they’ll change their mind about only having four teams.” Great post, hope they come to their senses.

  5. 1974gator says: Jun 6, 2012 9:21 AM

    Cooper and Bowden scare me because they could easily be homers and inappropriately influenced by their (OSU and FSU) crazy fans. There have to be better choices.

  6. orthomarine says: Jun 6, 2012 9:36 AM


  7. weavergm says: Jun 6, 2012 9:45 AM

    Anyone with enough experience to understand the game and make an expert judgment will have gained that experience at a school. There’s no way to completely eliminate bias. By using someone who’s retired you can at least have a selection committee that doesn’t receive a paycheck from the teams it’s judging.

    The BCS poll is a joke, because of conflict of interest and a lack of transparency. The only viable alternative to a selection committee would be an RPI formula similar to the one used for the NCAA tournament. But then we’re back to the debate about top 4 vs. conference champions, which a selection committee can always decide on a case by case basis.

  8. mountaineer50415 says: Jun 6, 2012 10:28 AM

    Sure, lets get one of the past coaches from WV and Alabama. Then we will have Alabama, WV, FSU in the top four every year. How on earth does anyone think that Bobby Bowden can be objective about FSU? Give me a break. Oh yell for number four how about Dr. Lou?????
    I think Bobby Bowden is a great man, but he is a human and he loves FSU. Even if they have proven not to reciprocate.

  9. bertenheim says: Jun 6, 2012 10:34 AM

    Use a poll of national writers (NOT beat writers) who would be obliged to explain their rankings in print.

  10. mdak06 says: Jun 6, 2012 10:46 AM

    @mountaineer — that’s why the selection committee is more than just a few people. It’s also why you specify certain factors that they must consider, such as:

    strength of schedule
    strong/weak victories
    strong/weak defeats
    off-field x-factors (e.g. death of a player)
    “garbage time” points
    referee mistakes

    As weavergm mentioned, it’s impossible to completely eliminate bias. I’d like the idea of an RPI-style ranking system to help, but I think it’s usefulness would be hampered by the limited number of games. In basketball, teams generally play about 40% (or more) of their games out of conference. In football, it’s usually around 33% or 25%.

    Also as has been pointed out, the BCS rankings are awful. They’re full of bias, conflicts of interest, and pollsters that don’t have enough time to evaluate the teams well. The computer rankings are unverifiable.

    So, in short, we need a selection committee.

  11. weavergm says: Jun 6, 2012 10:47 AM

    If we’re employing humans I prefer a committee to a poll. Voters went to college also, yes? A poll voter can just vote and be done with it, but a committee member has to explain his decision to the rest of the committee. If FSU wins the ACC, Bowden may be all for putting them in the playoff, but he has to be able to make a case as to why or it’s not happening.

    I’m all for the committee issuing a Supreme Court style majority report that explains the decision.

  12. mountaineer50415 says: Jun 6, 2012 11:11 AM

    We would at least have to have one from each school. Or we need to have people from schools with no dog in the race. Of course they would need to have knowledge about football. It sounds like they would need a large number of judges.

  13. rockiemtnhigh says: Jun 6, 2012 11:17 AM

    A committee makes more sense than a computer does and I think there would be built in policies in terms of coaches being able to vote on whether their old team is chosen or not. Put 9 people on the committee so if in one year you have to disqualify 2 members, there is still a solid number to work with. Besides, FSU has been bad for a while and it will probably be years before it is an issue for Bowden.

  14. Deb says: Jun 6, 2012 12:31 PM

    Everyone forgets the BCS rankings were implemented to eliminate the bias of the AP and Coaches polls that previously determined national champions. Now everyone wants to ditch the BCS for its biases–and I agree. But the answer isn’t to turn over the process to a group of men who have their own prejudices and who–whether or not they’ll admit it–will answer to the former conferences/college presidents who helped put them on the committee. Just because they’ll be told to consider objective criteria doesn’t mean they’ll do it.

    The answer is to refine the computer ranking system to eliminate as many opinion-based biases as possible.

  15. deadeye says: Jun 6, 2012 12:54 PM

    Maybe the ACC will land a team in the playoff after all.

  16. seanmmartin says: Jun 6, 2012 1:09 PM

    People tend to forget what the coaches poll really is.

    I initially believed that all 120 coaches sent in their Top 25 at the end of the week. NO NO NO.

    The coaches poll is made up of an ever-changing number of FBS coaches. Couple years ago it was something like 55 coaches.

    While I agree that coaches are at the forefront of the football-knowledge world, it doesn’t feel right that 55 guys have a serious say on the outcome of 120 teams. (120+ next year, etc.)

  17. seanmmartin says: Jun 6, 2012 1:14 PM

    Just checked.

    It’s 59 coaches at the moment. They combine for 33% of the current BCS formula.

    As for the Harris, I believe its 115 people–media, former players, former coaches, consultants/administrators. These people are randomly drawn at the beginning of the year from a pool of 300+ people. Those 300+ people are nominated by the 11 conferences and the Independents.

    If only I could get Notre Dame to sponsor me, and be lucky enough to be drawn, I would have 0.00286956522% of the vote.

  18. Deb says: Jun 6, 2012 1:46 PM

    @seanmartin …

    They combine for 33 percent of the current formula?? I never realized the Coaches’ Poll was weighted that heavily in the BCS ranking. That’s ridiculous. It’s also ridiculous to have 120+ teams in this mix. The first thing they should do is pare down the teams to a reasonable number so everyone in this division has a real shot at competing for a championship.

  19. bertenheim says: Jun 6, 2012 2:19 PM

    Start paring. No biases there.

  20. stairwayto7 says: Jun 6, 2012 2:46 PM

    So FSU will be in playoff every year?

  21. texbornlsufan says: Jun 6, 2012 3:23 PM

    Deb…… be glad the coach’s poll was 33% because if not for the coach’s poll Alabama would not have been in the BCS game.
    Before you go off the deep end, I am one LSU fan that was glad they were there because the best two teams played each other. AGAIN!!!!

  22. Deb says: Jun 6, 2012 5:46 PM

    @texbornlsufan …

    If the coaches poll is what put Bama in that game, maybe I need to rethink my position on all this LOL

    Appreciate your good sportsmanship!! LSU fielded one heckuva team last year. Awesome secondary!

  23. mountaineer50415 says: Jun 6, 2012 6:13 PM

    People have already come out with a poll for what teams are going to do next year. If you wanted to win some money you would put money on people who are not in the top 5. Very rarely are they there at the end of the year. Yet now people want people to decide who is in the top four. And of course they will not root for the home team!!!
    I was watching a show about college football today. According to them Notre Dame has a grueling schedule. The team plays people like Navy and Duke. Now that is grueling. Have you looked at FSUes schedule. If they run the table twice they still will not be as good as Oklahoma State, Alabama, or Southern Cal. Notre Dame will not either.
    By all means let us put Bobby Bowden and Lou Holts in there. They can tell us who the best teams are. No one from FSU or Notre Dame will try to influence them!!! As far as I am concerned people who vote are living in the past. Polls should not come out until teams have played at least five games. Then we will know who is the best this year. We do not need to know who was the best in 1999.

  24. Pac12Ute says: Jun 7, 2012 4:29 AM

    Win your conference to go to the championship game. That takes the subjectivity out of the mix and only allows proven teams into what should be a playoff. If a team can’t prove it on the field, they don’t deserve to have sympathy from a committee.

    Thanks to conference greed, now we have the fans arguing over the lame ideas left after the conferences whittled away the reasonable options. We’re left to decide upon what is the lesser of the remaining evils in front of us.

  25. florida727 says: Jun 7, 2012 8:49 AM

    Random thought here, but… have a committee of 6, only 4 of whom will actually vote to determine which teams get in. If, as an example, FSU has a season worthy of consideration for being in the playoffs, Bowden is one of the two who will NOT vote. If Texas A&M is up for consideration, Slocum is out, etc. Any potential “conflict of interest” eliminates a committee member from voting.

    I’m still in favor of a 6-team playoff using the existing BCS bowls. 1 and 2 get byes. 3 plays 6 and 4 plays 5 in two of the existing BCS bowls. The semi-finals are played at the other remaining BCS bowls, and you still have your BCS National Championship Game, but instead of it being at one of the existing four BCS sites, it gets bid out like the Super Bowl as previously mentioned.

  26. fcmlefty1 says: Jun 7, 2012 9:08 AM

    The former coaches are indeed good resources to use, but shouldn’t be the only type of person they put on the committee.

    If they go with some coaches, there would need to be a “cooling off” period instigated. To use Bowden as an example: he can’t be on the committee until enough time has passed to where there is no chance that somebody he may have recruited to FSU could possibly still be playing there. I’d think you’d be looking at a 7 year gap between coaching and being on the committee.

  27. florida727 says: Jun 7, 2012 9:49 AM

    Although “lefty” has a good idea in a cooling off period, the flaw in his proposal is that most of the ex-coaches (especially Edwards at BYU and Bowden at FSU), are still involved in the schools, and likely always will be. Heck, they named the fields at BYU and FSU after these two. They’ll ALWAYS bleed their schools’ respective colors. Keep in mind too, a SEVEN year waiting period? Those guys aren’t getting younger after they retire.

  28. fcmlefty1 says: Jun 7, 2012 11:52 AM

    florida727 – you are absolutely correct in that assessment. I knew what I was saying was only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, in mitigating the conflicts of interest.

    As far as not getting any younger, you have a point there too. There is a fine line between “brilliant veteran observer/contributor” and “senile old man”

  29. florida727 says: Jun 7, 2012 7:36 PM

    Hey “lefty”. Thanks. Your main point though is a very critical one as far as process integrity goes. How can a guy who coached a team for that many years NOT be biased? Not intentionally. These guys have a long history of integrity. But they also have a long history of loyalty.

    Heck, if I was on the committee, I’d be biased toward Florida. I’d TRY not to be, but how can someone’s rooting interests not play a role?

  30. mountaineer50415 says: Jun 7, 2012 7:57 PM

    Surely everyone knows that if you could raise up the Bear, we would not have to wonder who he would vote for.
    I, like florida727, would be voting for Alabama and WV every time. In my mind they are always the best. Sometimes they just do not look as if they are to other people!!!!! But to me they are always number 1a and 1aa.
    It has to be individual strength of schedule and everyone has the opportunity to do that by who they play in their OOC games.
    Maybe next year people will begin to play more difficult OOC games and thus be more competitive. This year it seems no one is playing a difficult schedule out of conference.

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