The most scrutinized committee in sports has been set. The members say they'll need thick skin, plenty of time and the ability to leave their loyalties behind to pick the four teams that will play for college football's national title next year.
They say they are ready for the pressure.
“I think I've experienced plenty of heat in my life,” former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said.
Rice, former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne and College Football Hall of Fame quarterback Archie Manning are among the 13 people who will be part of the College Football Playoff selection committee in 2014. The committee was officially unveiled Wednesday.
The College Football Playoff will replace the Bowl Championship Series. The selection committee will work similarly to the one that picks the teams for the NCAA basketball tournament, though instead of 68 teams it will choose and seed four to play in the semifinals.
The winners of those games, played on a rotating basis at six bowl sites, will meet a week later for the national championship.
“There will undoubtedly be people who disagree with the outcome,” Rice said.
Rice was a surprising pick to be part of the committee because she has never worked directly in college athletics, though when she was provost at Stanford the athletic department was under her supervision and she hired Tyrone Willingham as football coach.
She called herself a “student of the game.”
“What I can hopefully bring to this committee is critical judgment and the willingness to work real hard ... to put the best four teams on the field,” she said.
Rice, who grew up in Alabama, said college football has been trying to come up with a way to crown a champion for years and mentioned how the 1966 championship was muddled when Notre Dame and Michigan State played to a tie. Notre Dame was voted champion by the coaches' and AP polls, but Alabama went 11-0.
“It enhances head-to-head competition,” Rice said about the new system.
She said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott approached her about being part of the committee.
“Condi definitely earned her spot on this committee,” said Bill Hancock, the executive director of the BCS. “Obviously, part of this is going to be the ability to make judgments under scrutiny, and Condi has that.”
Rice is the only woman on the committee.
Some, such as former Auburn coach Pat Dye and former Georgia star and ESPN analyst David Pollack, have said they would prefer only those who have played football to be on the committee.
“I've been in enough positions to respect people who have different views,” Rice said. “I will work very hard reviewing film to make good judgments.”
She added: “I don't feel I'm carrying the banner for anyone except those of us who love college football.”
The panel is made up of five current athletic directors, former players and coaches and college administrators, and a former member of the media.
“Our work will be difficult, but rewarding at the same time,” Arkansas athletic director and committee chairman Jeff Long said. “We have important judgments to make during that process. We realize we represent all of college football.”
The rest of the members are:
— Barry Alvarez, athletic director, Wisconsin.
— Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, former superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy.
— Pat Haden, athletic director, Southern California.
— Tom Jernstedt, former NCAA executive vice president.
— Oliver Luck, athletic director, West Virginia.
— Dan Radakovich, athletic director, Clemson.
— Steve Wieberg, former college football reporter, USA Today.
— Willingham, former head coach of Notre Dame, Stanford and Washington.
— Mike Tranghese, former commissioner of the Big East Conference.
Hancock said term limits for committee members will eventually be three years, but that will not be the case for all the current members because they do not want to replace the entire committee at once.
“We haven't worked out the stagger yet,” Hancock said.
Committee members will recuse themselves when a team they have a direct relationship with comes up in meetings.
“It's imperative for all committee members to check their loyalties and affiliations before entering the meeting room,” Jernstedt said.
Hancock said the committee members will be allowed to examine whatever data they believe is relevant.
“No one single metric will be identified as paramount over all other data,” Hancock said.
Long said the committee likely will release four or five top 25 rankings during the season, starting around midseason, before the final decisions are made at the end of the regular season.
“I know it's going to have long hours involved,” Alvarez said. “Obviously, criticism will be a part of it.”
* * *
Video: Tom Osborne discusses his appointment to the playoff committee