100th Rose Bowl Game Press Conference

Selection committee still a giant question mark for College Football Playoff

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Coming out of playoff meetings this week, we now know what college football’s new postseason will be called — College Football Playoff, as it turns out — and where the major games will take place. That’s all well and good, but the biggest factor for CFP’s success over its 12-year agreement remains unclear:

Who is going to select the four teams to participate? And how?

CFP’s executive director, Bill Hancock, didn’t have much in the way of answers on Thursday. When asked how much time BCS commissioners spent discussing the selection committee this week, Hancock said “probably two or three hours.” As perspective, Sports Illustrated‘s Stewart Mandel remarks “This after spending nearly 20 hours in meeting rooms.”

Mandel goes on to write:

They don’t know what the size of the committee will be. The latest reported number was “14 to 20,” but that’s far from a guarantee. “I think there’s honest disagreement in the room,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said of the group’s talks.

They don’t know whether the committee members will be current administrators, ex-coaches and athletic directors, former media members or some combination of the above. They don’t know whether the group will be divided geographically, by conference affiliation or something else. They don’t know which sets of data the members will utilize, and they don’t know whether the committee will issue an official poll late in the season, a la the BCS standings.

Ten months into the playoff deal, it would appear that the same questions asked about the selection committee on Day 1 are still being asked today. “We have time on our side,” SEC commissioner Mike Slive has insisted. Be that as it may — the playoff doesn’t begin until after the 2014 season, giving decision-makers another year to figure out specifics — this isn’t exactly a textbook definition of progress on CFP’s most important, and undoubtedly controversial, area. Naming the postseason “College Football Playoff” may allow for future changes, but it means nothing if no one can decide who plays in it. And people won’t care which city hosts the championship game or which teams have “home field advantage” if they don’t understand how the four teams were selected.

Make no mistake: this is an enormously difficult task that demands time and attention to detail. As Mandel notes, there’s really no precedence for how to put together a selection committee outside of the one used to determine college basketball’s tournament field. Of course, the difference between choosing almost 40 at-large spots and four teams is beyond noticed. Still, a selection committee seems like the best option. If subjectivity in selecting teams is largely unavoidable, at least make it transparent. That was among the biggest, if not the biggest, gripe about the BCS.

Consequently, anyone serving on CFP’s selection committee is a brave soul who will no doubt be subject to an intense amount of criticism. Next to NCAA president, being a member of CFP’s selection committee might be the most thankless public job in college athletics. Some people in the game, like Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley, have already admitted they want no part of it. At least the BCS didn’t have feelings, and if it did, we have bigger problems than who makes up a playoff field.

How the committee comes up with the four teams is equally important, yet just as unclear at the moment. Word out of Pasadena this week is that the committee would release its own poll a handful of times through the season and then make its decision following the end of the season. Would the top four teams in the final CFP poll be the four teams selected for the playoff? That seems like a logical conclusion, otherwise the rankings would seem arbitrary and pointless.

There’s a lot to figure out over the next year or so when it comes to a selection committee. Here’s hoping it goes better than the first 10 months.

Northern Michigan OL Anthony Herbert passes away

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Northern Michigan offensive lineman Anthony Herbert has passed away following a workout Tuesday, the school has confirmed. He was 20.

Herbert is the second college football player to pass away in less than a week. His passing comes as Oregon has come under fire with three players hospitalized after a grueling workout, for which the Ducks’ strength coach has been suspended without pay for one month.

“Anthony’s passing is felt deeply by many,” NMU athletic director Forrest Karr said in a statement. “He made a positive impact on our campus and was everything we hope for in a student-athlete. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and teammates, and we are focused on supporting them during this difficult time.”

Officials cited by ESPN state Herbert participated in a Tuesday workout, ate breakfast and returned to his dorm room, where he passed out. EMTs unsuccessfully attempted to revive him, and he was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

“In my brief time with Anthony, I could tell that he was a great young man,” head coach Kyle Nystrom said. “He was well respected by his coaches and teammates and was a leader on the offensive line. We are devastated by this tragedy, and we are keeping his family in our prayers.”

A native of Lapeer, Mich., Herbert started every game at left guard as a redshirt sophomore in 2016. He was a member of the All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference All-Academic Team.

Pac-12 announces 2017 schedule

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Sam Darnold #14 of the USC Trojans scrambles prior to throwing a touchdown pass in the third quarter against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the 2017 Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 2, 2017 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Pac-12 announced its 2017 schedule on Wednesday, beginning with a New Mexico State-Arizona State/North Dakota-Utah double-header and ending with the conference title game, once again set for Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on the first weekend of December.

The headliner is USC, the league’s presumed champion and best shot at snapping its 12-year streak without a national title, playing 12 consecutive games without a bye week. The Trojans open with home games against Western Michigan, Stanford and Texas, and play straight through their Nov. 18 finale against UCLA at the LA Coliseum.

Speaking of UCLA road games, the Bruins have a lot of them — and they’re all tough. They’ll go on the road to face Memphis, Stanford, Arizona, Washington and Utah (over a 6-day stretch) before their finale at USC. The Bruins also host Texas A&M and Oregon.

Washington’s title defense will begin with a trip to Colorado (after another pillow-soft non-conference schedule of Rutgers, Montana and Fresno State) along with a key stretch that requires a home game with Oregon followed by a trip to Stanford six days later.

For the full schedule, click here.

Washington QB Jake Browning reportedly undergoes surgery on throwing shoulder

PULLMAN, WA - NOVEMBER 25:  Jake Browning #3 of the Washington Huskies looks to pass against the Washington State Cougars in the first half of the 109th Apple Cup at Martin Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Pullman, Washington.  (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)
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Washington quarterback Jake Browning has undergone surgery on his throwing shoulder, according to a report from The Seattle Times.

The Times reports Browning injured his right shoulder during a 44-18 win over Arizona State on Nov. 18, though the exact nature of the injury is unknown. Washington kept the injury hidden during the season’s final stretch, as the Huskies claimed the Pac-12 championship and reached the College Football Playoff.

Browning played through the injury, hitting 21-of-29 passes for 292 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in a 45-17 drubbing of Washington State just six days later. Browning’s performance suffered from there, though. He hit only 9-of-24 passes for 118 yards (with two touchdowns and no picks) in a Pac-12 Championship win over Colorado, then completed 20-of-38 passes for 150 yards with a touchdown and two picks in a 24-7 loss to Alabama.

How much those subpar performances were caused by the injury or by the opponent — or, most likely, a combination of the two — will be left to mystery.

Browning was the nation’s second-most efficient passer in the month of September, No. 3 in October, No. 16 in November and No. 66 in December. He finished the year ranked seventh, hitting 62.1 percent of his tosses for 8.8 yards per attempt with 43 touchdowns against nine interceptions.

Huskies head coach Chris Petersen has a policy of not discussing injuries, but he let on to Brock Huard’s radio show earlier this month that Browning did not finish the season 100 percent.

“I do think he was fighting through some things as the season went on because he’s a tough guy,” Petersen told the show, via The Seattle Times. “We had to do some things. Let me say this: We’ve got some tough kids on our team. Those kids, they fight through some things, and we don’t talk about who’s hurt and all this stuff, but Jake’s a tough kid and I’ll just say that. He fought through some stuff.”

Browning’s recovery time is expected to be six weeks, the paper reports.

Oregon suspends strength coach in wake of player hospitalizations

EUGENE, OR - OCTOBER 6: Close-up of the Oregon Ducks 'Liquid Metal' helmet during the the game between the Oregon Ducks and the Washington Huskies on October 6, 2012 at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon. Oregon won the game 52-21. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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Three Oregon players were hospitalized after grueling winter workouts conducted by new strength coach Irele Oderinde, and now the school has suspended Oderinde for one month without pay.

The original report from The Oregonian, which the school later confirmed, saw at least one player contract symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a soft tissue condition triggered by overwork that can lead to kidney damage. Other players showed signs as well, according to the report.

The sources said that some players “passed out” and others later complained of discolored urine, which is a common symptom of rhabdomyolysis. After testing, others were found to have highly elevated levels of creatine kinase, an indicator of the syndrome.

As a result, Oderinde has been suspended and head coach Willie Taggart has issued an apology. Oderinde previously worked for Taggart at South Florida.

“I have visited with the three young men involved in the incidents in the past few days and I have been in constant contact with their families, offering my sincere apologies,” Taggart said in a statement. “As the head football coach, I hold myself responsible for all of our football-related activities and the safety of our students must come first. I have addressed the issue with our strength and conditioning staff, and I fully support the actions taken today by the university.

“I want to thank our medical staff and doctors for caring for all of our young men, and I want to apologize to the university, our students, alumni and fans.

Added AD Rob Mullens: “The university holds the health, safety and well-being of all of our students in high regard. We are confident that these athletes will soon return to full health, and we will continue to support them and their families in their recoveries.”

Additionally, Oderinde will now report to director of performance and sport science Andrew Murray instead of Taggart.