Dick Harmon: Members of the media should sit on college football's selection committee
College football should not forget the science of punditry.
The proposed plan for a national championship in college football is on the way to finalization by university presidents.
Many details have not been made public, but we know it will be a four-team playoff, a seeded tournament beginning in 2014 and will use some existing bowls and a championship game that will be put out to bid. It will make at least double the money we see in the BCS system currently in use.
What we don't know is the makeup of the selection committee that will make the final determination of who gets to be one of the hallowed four.
I've got a suggestion.
No problem with the presidents leaving it up to the 11 college conference commissioners to decide how this panel will be put together. They are hard-working guys who work full time in making sense of a sport that has been fragmented, politicized, monetized, criticized, used and abused.
These are smart guys.
I'd just like them to keep as many spots open as possible for members of the Fourth Estate — a name given to the press.
This would provide outside opinion. Good information.
Our country is fortunate to have very talented, informed, smart, knowledgeable, and creative minds who follow college football. Those at the top of the food chain are well-respected and have tremendous followers, be it with ratings, circulation or Internet page views.
Let's not leave this resource out.
I'm talking about commentators and columnists who do their homework and have honed their craft. They've gone to all the campuses, interviewed all the coaches, know almost all the key players and regularly cover league media days and conference summit meetings.
They can provide great insight into the issues when you have a No. 6 Oregon that beat No. 3 Stanford on the field but never got a chance to play for a national title. They know what an undefeated Boise State or Utah really means. And they know how to articulate it. They know this game because they dissect it and make it a very palatable science for the masses every single day.
Right now the NCAA uses a selection committee to choose the at-large bids for the basketball tournament, and most experts believe a similar panel will be created to deal with the task of what 12-1 football team doesn't deserve to be in the four-team playoff.
I'm OK with that. But I think it will miss the mark if at least one, if not half a dozen, well-chosen members of the media are not considered to help with the work and identification.
Of course, some in the media will likely refuse, just like The Associated Press (which is an organization comprised of the nation's media outlets) refused to allow their weekly rankings to be used as part of the BCS formula.
Many times, it will be very evident which are the top four teams in the country. Other times, it will be a tug of war. And it is at those times, I believe the input, discussion or even vote by an invited member or members of the media on the committee will be extremely helpful because these guys are not tied to a conference.
Here's my short list of who in the media should be on the panel.
Andy Staples, a college football columnist for SI.com.
Dan Wetzel, Yahoo.com columnist and author of "Death to the BCS," which might be cause for some commissioners like Jim Delany to leave him off. I see it as a reason to put him on.
Brett McMurphy or Dennis Dodd, college football experts for CBSsports.com. They've been to every corner of the land for games, meetings and breaking news.
Gene Wojciechowski or Ivan Maisel of ESPN.com. Anybody who's researched college football and used media reports over the years have likely run into their tremendous insight and work.
Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times sports columnist. Chris simply knows the game. Period.
Kirk Herbstreit, ESPN broadcaster. A former Ohio State quarterback, has insight and a broad background in the entire college scene from the corners of the ACC to the top of the Rockies, he understands the issues that make or break such a selection.
So if the presidents and commissioners do not seriously consider including some of our country's best resources who don't always wear suits and ties but travel coast to coast in golf shirts and cover the ground, they're missing out big time.
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