Morris: Human element muddies playoff

October 20, 2013 

THE NCAA AND university presidents caved to pressure from coaches, fans and TV executives and eliminated the Bowl Championship Series, opting for a four-team playoff that begins next season.

Everyone, it seems, wanted a playoff for college football. Even though I long believed the BCS format was perfect for the college game, I am willing to concede that a four-team playoff will be good for the game.

What I cannot agree with is the format for choosing the four teams. Instead of continuing to use a computer-rating system, which worked almost every season in determining the two teams that would play in the national championship game, the College Football Playoff will introduce more human element to the selection process.

“We looked at a different model if we added the other teams to look a little more like the successful basketball committee model,” said Dan Radakovich, Clemson’s athletics director and a member of the new selection committee. “They said, we’re changing the name, we’re changing how it’s pulled together, we’re changing the number of teams.

“So at that point they said, we’re not going to just rely on something that is nameless and faceless.”

Of the 13 members named to the committee this past week, one was trained to be an objective observer of college football: Steve Wieberg, the former USA Today college football reporter.

Through no fault of their own, all the others have a built-in bias toward either the school they graduated from, currently work for or once were employed by. No matter how objective those other 12 members claim to be, it is human nature that they will carry a bias into the selection process.

Radakovich said the committee has not determined how the most obvious biases will be eliminated. He said the committee will devise rules whereby members will recuse themselves from certain discussions. Radakovich, for example, likely would not be allowed in the room if Clemson’s status is tabled.

Going to a four-team playoff was expected to eliminate much of the controversy that surrounded the selection of the top two teams in the BCS. Instead, by adding more of the human element to the selection process, the NCAA probably added more controversy.

Goodbye clarity. Hello chaos.

Tournament update

Eight weeks into the season, 12 teams remain in the hunt to play in the national championship game.

Week 8 eliminated six teams, including three from the SEC. South Carolina was eliminated with its loss to Tennessee, Texas A&M by losing to Auburn and LSU with a loss to Mississippi.

Other teams eliminated included Clemson with its loss to Florida State, UCLA by losing to Stanford and Louisville, which fell to Central Florida.

Numbers games

A couple of statistics jumped out from this past weekend’s games.

•  Unbeaten and sixth-ranked Baylor continues to roll up eye-popping numbers. The Bears scored 69 vs. Wofford, 70 vs. Buffalo, 70 vs. Louisiana-Monroe, 73 vs. West Virginia and 71 vs. Iowa State. Mix in a 35-point effort against Kansas State, and Baylor is averaging 64.7 points per game.

That average would shatter the NCAA record of 56 ppg. held by the 1944 Army Black Knights. Baylor might continue that scoring surge this weekend against Kansas, but the Bears are not likely to score at that pace in remaining games against Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas.

A bizarre record was set in Washington State’s 62-38 loss to Oregon. Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday set an FBS record with 89 pass attempts, breaking by six the record held by Drew Brees of Purdue against Wisconsin in 1998.

Perhaps Halliday’s record should include an asterisk because it appears that Washington State coach Mike Leach specifically set out to break the record.

Despite the lopsided score, Halliday remained in the game and attempted 28 passes in the fourth quarter. He was still throwing the ball with seconds remaining in the game.

Halliday, who did not hand the ball off during the fourth quarter, completed 58 attempts during the game for 557 yards and four touchdowns.

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