By: Keith Raad – Asst. Sports Editor
When Notre Dame lost to Florida State University Oct. 18 due to a blown call by the referees in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, it was not my Irish heritage that was trampled.
Though I couldn’t care less, I felt for the Irish that day. The team that outplayed the Seminoles from start to finish, proving that they were the better team, had their season possibly ended. That’s the way it’s been for the longest time. One loss and you’re finished.
A part of me knew the Irish were done because of the previous Bowl Championship Series computer system.
The other part of me, the human side, saw Notre Dame average 4.5 yards per rush while holding the Seminoles to 1.9 yards per rush. It also saw the Irish on the road convert clutch third downs 39 percent of the time, against FSU’s 25 percent. Notre Dame outplayed Florida State.
But my thinking, and yours, will start to lean the way of the human side. Humans have taken back control and I like humans.
Enter the College Football Playoff. 2014-15 brings the first year in which real people will look at real teams and make real matchups. Gone are the days of the BCS system that placed fate in the hands of computers.
Do you remember this?
In 2003-04, USC, LSU and Oklahoma were at the mercy of this system. Ranked No. 1 by The Associated Press and ESPN-USA Today Coaches poll, USC (11-1) was hit with a lower system score and became the No. 3 team in the country, due to their “weak schedule.” No. 2 Oklahoma, in their final game, saw their title hopes smashed, for the time, by getting routed 35-7 by Kansas State. No. 3 LSU (12-1) crushed Georgia in the SEC title game.
When the dust settled, the Sooners were ranked No. 1 by the BCS computer system, despite losing their final game to Kansas State. LSU was awarded the No. 2 spot by the computer and human votes, while USC, which was voted the No. 1 team by coaches, players and the media, received a ranking of No. 3 in the BCS poll before the bowls.
After LSU defeated Oklahoma in the BCS National Championship and USC defeated Michigan in the Rose Bowl, there was still more carnage. The AP poll named USC the No. 1 team. They did not even play in the championship game, and the Trojans were voted No. 1. In the Coaches poll, three coaches who are unknown to this day broke protocol. Due to their contracts, coaches had to vote unanimously, the winner of the national championship, LSU, as the No. 1 team.
In 2003-04, the humans got it right at the end, but the way it happened was extremely unfair to Oklahoma, LSU and USC.
On Tuesday, the selection committee will finally unveil its rankings and I like the setup.
Twelve selectors will come together and decide the fate of the four-team playoff system. Just as there are only nine U.S. Supreme Court Justices, I like the simple number of high-profile committee members. The transparency brings clarity to the table. Those are two different words. Clarity of the picks will come from transparency through the voting process.
In the Coaches poll and AP poll, high voting numbers can be skewed, enabling possible influence from outside sources that could inevitably get lost in the scuffle. For the College Football Playoff committee, conference officials, leaders and businessmen, the vote will be simple.
In other words, if this committee was run like the U.S. Congress, it would be hard to determine why 10 or 20 votes fluctuated from one bill, or in this case one team, to the next. These committee members cannot hide.
Barry Alvarez, director of athletics at Wisconsin, joins Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne to represent the Big 10 Conference. The Pac-12 can boast Tyrone Willingham, former football head coach at Washington and Stanford, USC Athletic Director Pat Haden, and former Stanford Provost and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Oliver Luck, father of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, represents the Big 12 Conference as the athletic director of West Virginia.
The SEC turns only to Jeff Long, vice chancellor and athletic director at Arkansas. Clemson Athletic Director Dan Radakovich represents the ACC. Former NCAA Executive Vice President Tom Jernstedt will join former commissioner of The Big East Conference Mike Tranghese.
Rounding out the votes will be Lt. Gen. Mike Gould and former USA Today college football reporter Steve Wieberg.
These members are crucial to understand because when the votes are put down on paper for the first time this week, we can be sure that there will be serious tensions in the room. But with tension comes discussion. With discussion comes truth. With the nation’s eyes on the result, you can rest assured that this committee will make the right choice. They will find the right matchups.
The committee can account for a late penalty flag that subdues a team’s hopes for a championship. They will sort the right losses and the right wins.
They’re humans, and I like humans.