Published Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at 9:18 pm / Updated at 4:32 pm
Big Ten A.D.s ask for clarity on playoff selections

CHICAGO — For all the things Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez is fuzzy about on how a College Football Playoff selection committee will be chosen, he is crystal clear on one thing.

He wants far more clarification on any involvement of computer rankings.

“I wouldn't want to get up on a Sunday after having a great year and seeing that you didn't get into a playoff by two one-hundredths of a point because some computer didn't have you rated high enough,” Alvarez said Tuesday, his voice rising.

“You don't even know what the hell the criteria were that they used.”

With Tuesday at the Big Ten meetings more of a discussion day than a decision day, athletic directors were asked about bigger-picture topics like the football playoff selection committee.

For comparison, Alvarez said, he spoke with Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive about Slive's five-year term on the NCAA basketball committee.

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“He figured the time he spent on that committee took a year of his life,” Alvarez said. “Every morning, he got up and watched several hours, watched during the noon hour and watched at night.

“If you're doing it right, you're going to spend a lot of time watching film.”

Yet the mere act of sitting in a video room, Alvarez said, isn't enough.

“You've got to know what the hell you're watching, too,” he said. “Just watching film doesn't do any good. I used to tell that to my players.”

That's why college football leaders and fans have high interest in the composition of the committee. Is it former coaches, former administrators, retired sportswriters or some other combination?

Bill Hancock, the head of the College Football Playoff, said in a statement that deliberation is ongoing.

“This is an issue of considerable complexity,” Hancock said. “Given how much time we have until the playoff begins (595 days according to the countdown clock on the CFP's website), we're in no rush.”

The other part of postseason play — bowl games — also was much-discussed Tuesday in meeting rooms at the Sofitel Hotel.

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Speculation is heavy that the Big Ten might soon become tied to bowls in Nashville (Music City), New York (Pinstripe) and San Diego (Holiday). The league is looking at six-year deals. The current four-year contracts expire at the end of the coming season.

“We want to be national,” Alvarez said. “We want to have at least two in Florida, we want to play in Texas, we want to play in the desert and we want to play in California.

“Also, New York and some other places on the East Coast are an option so we can spread our brand nationally.”

Finding new bowl markets should energize fan bases.

Alvarez talked about Wisconsin once going to Orlando, Fla., for five consecutive seasons, and how the number of Badger fans who traveled dropped each year. Michigan A.D. Dave Brandon agreed that's a concern.

“The numbers don't lie,” Brandon said. “There is fan fatigue if you go to the same area year after year. There just is.

“Many of our student-athletes would tell you the same thing. So one of the guiding principles we have is to try to move programs around and see other bowls and play different teams.”

Official announcement of new bowl agreements could come as early as Wednesday, when Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany addresses the media.

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Contact the writer: Lee Barfknecht    |   402-444-1024    |  

Lee Barfknecht has won nine national writing awards from four separate organizations, and is a 12-time winner of the Nebraska sportswriter of the year award. He covers Big Ten football and basketball, Nebraska basketball and other college financial issues for The World-Herald.



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