Concerns for selection committee
A look at the five biggest issues, including the influence of polls
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.
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.
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