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October 17, 2013 Thursday
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Playoff committee criteria likely to be complex, flexible
George Schroeder, @GeorgeSchroeder, USA TODAY Sports

Although many unknowns remain, it's clear the most radical change to college football's postseason might not be the four-team playoff but how the teams are chosen.

As it announced the inaugural selection committee Wednesday, the College Football Playoff also unveiled the criteria the 13 members will use starting next season.

Teams will be chosen based on several factors, including conference championships, strength of schedule, head-to-head results, comparing common opponents and injuries.

"Our charge is simple," said Arkansas athletics director Jeff Long, the committee chairman. "Determine the best teams in college football and seed them to play each other."

But the process might not be simple, and the criteria could certainly be controversial. One example: According to principles published in a CFP news release, the committee would consider "key injuries that may have affected a team's performance during the season or likely would affect its postseason performance." Thus, rather than reviewing a team's body of work, the committee could find itself projecting how a team would fare without an important player.

"I think it would be unfair if we didn't take into account injuries as they got into the later part of the season," Long said. "They do play a factor in the strength of the team."

Along with Long, the committee has four other sitting athletics directors: Barry Alvarez of Wisconsin, Pat Haden of Southern California, Oliver Luck of West Virginia and Dan Radakovich of Clemson. Former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese, former quarterback Archie Manning, former Nebraska coach and athletics director Tom Osborne and former coach Tyrone Willingham are panelists, as are former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former NCAA executive Tom Jernstedt, Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, former superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy, and former USA TODAY Sports college football reporter Steve Wieberg.

Bill Hancock, the CFP's executive director, called it "an all-star crew made up of some of the finest, most respected and most knowledgeable college football people anyone will ever meet."

Committee members will not be paid, though their expenses will be reimbursed.

The plan is to meet four times in the regular season, then again to choose the playoff participants.

After each regular-season meeting, the committee will publish a top 25, which is intended to reflect its thoughts at that moment. Although Hancock said a goal was to have a transparent process, individual ballots wouldn't be published.

Much is left to be determined, including how and when members will recuse themselves. In addition to current affiliations, several members played or worked for several schools.

"They do not represent any university, any conference, any region," Long said. "They represent college football, and that's an important designation to make."

October 17, 2013

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