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Pitt

4-1-Zoo: One Problem With The Playoff System, Selection Committee

By: Chris Gates
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — We all wanted a consensus No. 1 team in the country, which is why we clamored for a playoff.

And that’s what we got Tuesday, when NCAA presidents agreed on a four-team playoff model that will begin with the 2014-15 season.

However, in classic college football fashion, the final product to determine our national champion appears to be flawed. Upon announcing the playoff model it was determined that the four teams will be chosen by a selection committee, much like the group that chooses teams for the NCAA basketball tournament.

Why, oh why, did they go that route?

While we’re all basking in the glow of a brand new system and a much more agreed upon national champion at year’s end, I won’t be surprised if we’re all complaining about this system in three to five years.

In fact, I guarantee we will be.

This committee hasn’t been picked yet. There aren’t any specifications on how the members will be chosen.

What I can identify is there’s no way you can have a selection committee without some form of corruption, or at least a considerable faction of fans that suspect corruption.

My guess is the committee will be made up of either NCAA presidents, athletic directors, conference officials or NCAA officials. Maybe a combination of all four.

If so, it’s almost guaranteed that each will choose with some form of favoritism in their choices for the final four.

There’s too much money on the line — have you heard? Up to $400-$500 million is what this thing is projected to gross — and each team, university and conference will want as big a slice of the pie as possible.

And this selection committee will have no barriers on who can or can not play in the playoff. Conference championships don’t matter. There’s no limit of teams per conference. There’s really no specifications that we know of.

At least not yet.

So tell me, how does this playoff model bring equality to college football? Do you, if you’re a Pitt fan, think the Panthers have a chance to participate in this thing?

In my opinion, Pitt has an even worse shot of playing for a national championship under the four-team playoff model. With conference championships meaning nothing, the Panthers will have to have the toughest schedule in the country and go undefeated just to have a chance.

Here’s a hypothetical situation.

Say Pitt wins the ACC in 2014 and is “in the conversation” for being part of college football’s playoff. Say they’re in that conversation with Ohio State, Texas, LSU and USC.

Who is really going to pick the Panthers? Any human will look at those five schools and leave Pitt out. There’s tradition going against them. There’s gigantic fan bases going against them. There’s national appeal going against them. There’s traveling fan bases going against them.

Need I go on?

This is a very real scenario that could involve Pitt or any other non-traditional football power once the playoff starts. And it will be created because of a panel of people that have been put in charge to select the teams.

College football had a chance here to do the right thing. The BCS’s biggest problem was that it sometimes left a team out. One team.

The sport could have used the BCS computer rankings, which were set up to put together a series (Bowl Championship SERIES) to determine the four teams in the playoff. The computer rankings are an impartial third party that can’t recognize the outside factors that will surely play into the minds of the people in this selection committee.

But college football got it wrong.

Should we really be surprised?

Here’s to seeing two, possibly three SEC teams in the four-team playoff every year.

That’s what we were all clamoring for, right?

Chris Gates | Area 4-1-Zoo Blog
Twitter.com/Chris_Gates
Chris.Gates@cbsradio.com

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