Concerns for selection committee

A look at the five biggest issues, including the influence of polls

Updated: May 19, 2014, 12:53 PM ET
By Brad Edwards | ESPN Insider

Hancock/LongAP Photo/Tony GutierrezBill Hancock, left, and Jeff Long are part of the 13-person selection committee.

We now know most of the guidelines the College Football Playoff has established for its selection committee, and it's far from a perfect system, but I have a hard time making an argument that it isn't better than the coaches' poll, the Harris poll or six computers that were not allowed to consider the final scores of games (aka the elements of the BCS formula). That said, I do have several concerns about how decisions might be made by the selection committee as the season progresses.

Here are the five biggest ones:

Will the "best" teams be picked?

On its official website, the College Football Playoff gives its selection committee voting protocol. If you carefully read through the steps, you'll notice a pattern. The same word is used in each step to describe how the teams are being selected and ordered. That word is "best."

The committee's job isn't to rank the "top" teams (that vague concept behind most college football polls) or even the "most deserving" teams. Quite clearly, its job is to focus on which are the best teams.

"Best," to me, is simply a matter of which team (or teams) would be expected to come out on top if a group of teams all played one another. By this definition, "best" is independent of any schedule strength ranking, conference championship or even a head-to-head result. Team A might have beaten Team B, but if I think Team B would definitely win if those teams played again, then I feel that Team B is better than Team A.

[+] EnlargeManti Te'o
Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/MCT/Getty ImagesWould Manti Te'o's 2012 Notre Dame team have made a four-team playoff?

Whether all committee members define "best" this way -- and how rigidly they abide by it -- will be a major factor in how the inaugural selection process plays out this December.

• Analyzes college football and the CFB Playoff as part of ESPN's Stats & Information Group
• Analyst for both College GameDay on ESPN Radio and the ESPN College Football app