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The College Football Playoff yesterday "unveiled the criteria" the 13 members of the CFP selection committee will use starting next season, and the four participating teams "will be chosen based on several factors including conference championships, strength of schedule, head-to-head competition, comparing common opponents and injuries," according to George Schroeder of USA TODAY. Arkansas AD and CFP Committee Chair Jeff Long said, "Our charge is simple. Determine the best teams in college football and seed them to play each other." The plan is for the committee, which was formally announced yesterday, to "meet four times in the regular season, then again to choose the playoff participants." The committee after each regular-season meeting will "publish a top 25, which is intended to reflect it's thoughts at that moment." Although CFP Exec Dir Bill Hancock said that a goal was to "have a transparent process, individual ballots wouldn't be published" (USA TODAY, 10/17). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Rachel Bachman wrote the CFP indicated that the committee must consider comparative outcomes of common opponents "without incenting margin of victory." The consideration suggests "how tough and nuanced the committee's job will be." Committee members "directly associated with a team under consideration will recuse themselves from deliberations involving that team" (WSJ.com, 10/16). Long said the committee "will have any number of matrixes to consider, so we'll have plenty of information to review." He added each committee member "will be assigned a conference to watch closely, but every member of the committee will be expected to watch all the teams and all the games that are relevant to that top 25 selection" ("College Football Live," ESPN2, 10/16). Hancock noted that 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." He added, "We haven’t worked out the stagger yet" (AP, 10/16).
INITIAL LINEUP LOOKS GOOD: ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy wrote of the 13-member selection committee, "It is a very impressive group. It oozes incredible ethics, credibility and integrity" (ESPN.com, 10/16). CBSSPORTS.com's Jeremy Fowler wrote, "These committee members do indeed fit the 'integrity' criteria" (CBSSPORTS.com, 10/16). ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel wrote under the header, "Selection Committee Got It Right." The committee "is in good hands" (ESPN.com, 10/16). In L.A., Chris Dufresne writes the committee comprises a "stellar panel of distinguished scholars and citizens." Some "might question the inclusion of former USA Today sportswriter Steve Wieberg, but those who know him can attest there is no one more qualified or square-egg diligent" (L.A. TIMES, 10/17). In Atlanta, Jeff Schultz acknowledged the committee "will be second-guessed." Schultz: "But anybody would be second-guessed. In the end, we will get four worthy selection" (AJC.com, 10/16). In Omaha, Tom Shatel writes of former Nebraska coach and AD Tom Osborne under the header, "Osborne Fits On A Common-Sense Selection Panel." Shatel: "Is it a perfect group? No. There are already critics taking their shots at the process." But "for now, for starters, this group makes sense" (Omaha WORLD-HERALD, 10/17).
SCRUTINY WILL BE WIDESPREAD: In N.Y., Tom Spousta writes the credentials of the committee "appear above reproach." But officials acknowledged that it "would be hard for the members to be perceived as neutral enough to satisfy fans’ scrutiny" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/17). FOXSPORTS.com's Greg Couch wrote criticism of former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's inclusion on the committee is a "great example of a fundamental flaw to this system." It is not about whether she is "credible but about whether Joe College Football Fan can ever find anyone credible" (FOXSPORTS.com, 10/16). In South Carolina, Ed Storin writes the committee is "built for failure." With five current ADs on board, it "looks like more of the same old, same old." Storin: "All are reputed to have great integrity, but they will carry a heavy baggage of school and conference loyalty" (Hilton Head ISLAND PACKET, 10/17). ESPN.com's Ted Miller wrote, "Getting 13 folks to agree on prioritizing a mostly subjective and shifting set of criteria is going to be a challenge" (ESPN.com, 10/16).
Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last night defended her spot on the 13-person College Football Playoff selection committee, saying her experience in politics lets her bring to the table "decision-making under pressure, decision-making when you have to evaluate information, look at a variety of ways of looking at something, working in a team to try to come up with good decisions." Appearing on ESPN2's "Olbermann," Rice said, "This is a really amazing group of people and they're coming from a diversity of backgrounds, and I think that's really important. ... What's really going to be important is when we get into the room, we are perfectly comfortable questioning each other, looking at the issues from all angles and then coming to decisions. I think I bring a lot of experience in having done that." She noted she was first approached about being on the committee by Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. Rice: "I said, 'Why on Earth would you want me to serve?' He talked about the importance of having people with diverse perspectives. He talked about the importance of being able to make decisions under pressure, and then he talked about the fact that I've actually been a part of the college football system when I was provost at Stanford -- Stanford athletics reported to me." ESPN's Colin Cowherd noted Rice "didn’t lobby for the job" and CFP execs "approached you aggressively." Rice talked to several people in the sport before committing, saying, "I just wanted to have a sense that this was something that the commissioners would really be happy to see take place. So I did my homework a little bit before I said yes" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 10/16).
THE HUMAN LEAGUE: USA TODAY's Scott Gleeson noted Rice is one of three members of the committee "who did not play college football, setting off a debate over whether members must be former players to have credibility." Rice said, "I've been in enough positions to respect people who have different views. Not everyone on the committee has played football. I'm a student of the game, and I believe that I will work very, very hard." Rice, who is the only woman on the committee, "thinks diversity will be beneficial and add a 'human element' that was missing with the BCS" (USA TODAY, 10/17). Rice said, "I'm no stranger to controversy (laughs). Of course, I knew there would be people that said, 'Well, you didn't play football.' That would be true, but not everybody that's been associated with this game played football. With all due respect to my good friend Roger Goodell, and Paul Tagliabue, I think the most influential commissioner in the history of the NFL was Pete Rozelle. He never played football." She added, "You also want people with a diversity of experiences, people that have had to make decisions and assess information from a wide variety of perspectives. That's why the different experiences and backgrounds people will bring on this committee are also important" (SI.com, 10/16). She noted that she was "told 'diversity of experience' and the ability to make 'critical judgments' were a key part of her being selected" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/17). Rice when asked whether she was leading the way for other women in football said, "I don’t feel that I’m carrying a banner for anyone, except those of us who love college football. And by the way, that includes a lot of women too" (STANFORD DAILY, 10/17).
GOOD CALL: In New Orleans, Trey Iles reports former Univ. of Georgia AD and football coach Vince Dooley was "somewhat critical of the committee, saying that it could have used more former football coaches." However, he "thought Rice was an outstanding choice." Dooley said that Rice has "spoken before many college athletic groups and always impresses them." Dooley: "There is nobody I respect more both as a educator and person. She has a keen interest in college football. Wonderful addition to the committee" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 10/17). In San Jose, Mark Purdy asks of Rice, "What's a more critical task? Analyzing global security data as a presidential cabinet member? Or analyzing statistical records on whether LSU or Clemson might be the fourth-best team in the country?" The committee's other members also "dripped of intelligence and integrity, so no one should complain about their appointments except cheating programs" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 10/17).
FRESH PERSPECTIVE: ESPN.com's Andrea Adelson asked, "Is football ready for a woman? It has to be." The CFP committee had "every opportunity to nominate an acting female athletic director" like NC State AD Debbie Yow or Cal AD Sandy Barbour ahead of Rice. That might have "muted or eliminated the initial outcry altogether." Choosing Rice "over a more established woman in the NCAA is a concern to some." The committee "might have been looking for outside voices to bring another viewpoint into the room" (ESPN.com, 10/16). Rice said as Secretary of State she "learned to ask difficult questions.” Rice: “You learn to work with other people to try to come to good decisions (and) you learn to weigh evidence." Rice added, "I recognize the importance of teamwork in something like this." Rice said before being contacted by Scott, "it was not on my radar." Rice said the committee members "take this responsibility of trying to represent college football as a whole, not individual institutions, but obviously the committee will have to consider how we want to treat people who have obviously very close relationships with a specific team that might be under consideration. I'll leave that to our deliberations." Rice said she "would not have taken this on if I didn't believe I could commit the time that is needed and I will commit as much time as needed because it's important we get this right" (CAMPUSINSIDERS.com, 10/16).
RICE NOT THE ONLY CRITICIZED PICK: In Colorado Springs, Brent Briggeman notes the inclusion of former Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould on the committee, "given his limited experience in a hands-on role in college football, has been scrutinized nationally along with that of Rice." Gould was nominated by Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson. Committee Chair and Arkansas AD Jeff Long said of Gould and Rice, "They're both obviously people who have made decisions under scrutiny. They'll both be great committee members" (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 10/17).
Although "every ticket was long sold" and attendance was announced at 92,980 for last Saturday's Florida-LSU game at Tiger Stadium, LSU AD Joe Alleva said that in "actuality, there were only about 78,000 fans in the stands," according to Scott Rabalais of the Baton Rogue ADVOCATE. It made for "one of the most tepid big-game atmospheres in Tiger Stadium in a long time." There was "more than one reason for the 15,000 no shows." LSU Associate AD/Operations Eddie Nunez said, "It was the perfect storm." For starters, the temperature on Saturday was "listed as 85 degrees for the 2:30 p.m. kickoff, with the thermometer peaking at 89 degrees" that afternoon. While that alone "doesn't sound all that hot, coupled with humidity and lack of cloud cover early in the game, Tiger Stadium was a broiler." Fans who did travel for the game were "snared in near-gridlock conditions on approach to the LSU campus." Alleva and Nunez said that LSU has "lost 2,000 free parking spaces since last season." Nunez added that with fewer places to park, some fans "were directed to keep going." Some "probably wound up far off campus, some may have gone home." LSU President King Alexander on Tuesday said that football attendance "was a major topic of a meeting Monday in Atlanta" of SEC presidents and chancellors. Alleva and Nunez said that they are "working on traffic flow, continuing to search for more free parking and opening more stadium gates." Nunez said that once construction is completed in '14, Tiger Stadium will "have more gates than ever." Alleva added that LSU is "working toward more WiFi access in the stadium and will press law enforcement to reinstate contraflow traffic routes into and out of the campus that were inexplicably nixed several years ago" (Baton Rogue ADVOCATE, 10/16).
BUILDING A ROUTINE: In West Palm Beach, Dave George noted it is "not part of the social fabric of Palm Beach County for everyone to plan weekends around FAU games ... as demonstrated by the Owls' season-ticket base of 3,500." FAU AD Pat Chun said, "We're borrowing from minor league baseball promotions to get more families in here." FAU's game-day offerings include "face painting and balloon animals for grade-schoolers prior to kickoff and then limbo contests and the like for FAU students during timeouts." Attendance for last Saturday's Marshall-FAU game was "announced as 19,760." That is the "second-biggest crowd in stadium history and still it was closer to half a house than it was to a sellout" (PALM BEACH POST, 10/16).
ON THE UP AND UP: In Cincinnati, Tom Groeschen notes with Nippert Stadium seating only 35,000, the Univ. of Cincinnati’s average crowd of 32,870 "is on pace to be the second-highest figure in stadium history." UC said that the Nippert "record average was 33,957" in '09, when coach Brian Kelly "led UC to a 12-0 regular season and a Sugar Bowl appearance." UC this year is "drawing well despite not being a Top 25 team." UC AD Whit Babcock said, "The biggest difference is probably with the student attendance. That has really jacked up the numbers" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 10/17).
The Univ. of Michigan athletic department "appears to be willing to work with the student body" on student ticket policies, according to Mark Snyder of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. UM's Central Student Government yesterday announced that the athletic department will "discuss the 2014 football ticket plan with students and faculty before making final decisions." The athletic department "faced backlash for announcing the changes to the two major-sport ticketing polices -- student general admission for football and the pod system for basketball after an excess of student tickets were sold -- with very little student input." Students at an Oct. 11 meeting "presented a survey that overwhelmingly disapproved" of the new general admission seating policy for football, "77% to 14% with nearly 5,900 students participating." The survey also showed that 77% said they "liked the 2012 experience better than this year through four games." UM Senior Associate AD & CMO Hunter Lochmann said, "While some results were not surprising based on our own shared observations, there was some feedback that will be very helpful in making improvements going forward" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 10/17).