By noon Sunday, their job will be done.
Pairings will be set. Allegiances will again be affirmed.
Spurned contenders will be heartbroken. Alabama will be hoisted and paraded around the marketplace.
And Jeff Long, the chairman and spokesman for the College Football Playoff committee, will stand before a microphone at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine and declare that fairness has been served.
Just like last year, when we first saw what the CFP committee was all about.
Only human, as it turned out. Men and women with reputable titles, but at the end of the day laden with all of the biases and predispositions of the poll voters they were designed to replace.
But this isn’t only about the 2014 TCU and Baylor teams, who were good enough to play with any of the four that finally were chosen.
Rather, the complaint here is about a process that in two short years has already shown its inadequacies and flaws.
Welcome back to Grapevine, in other words, CFP committee members.
Now please do college football a favor and disband.
In the beginning, sure, it was a grand notion, this idea of initiating a four-team playoff to decide a national champion. On the surface, the 12-member committee was impeccably selected — venerable ex-coaches, credentialed administrators, an Air Force general and a respected former U.S. secretary of state among them.
But for such an august group, where’s the transparency? Let’s see the rules, the criteria.
Don’t say they are already in print, easily read at collegefootballplayoff.com, because if that is, indeed, the committee’s selection protocol, those marching orders are being conveniently ignored.
Chairman Long has suggested as much in his weekly performances during media conference calls and in front of the ESPN cameras.
“Winning games, of course, is the first thing we look at and the most important,” Long said after one-loss Alabama made the top four on Nov. 3.
A week later, Long more or less said that the committee would consider that Stanford was not allowed a hearty breakfast. The question was about the Cardinal playing an 11 a.m. kickoff at Northwestern.
“Yeah, I think that it is a significant thing,” Long said.
I think we would not be doing our due diligence if we didn’t recognize that that team was playing at 9 a.m. Pacific.
CFP chairman Jeff Long on Stanford’s early start
In another favorite excerpt from The Best of Jeff Long, here’s what he said in mid-November about the committee’s ability to predict the future.
“You know, Ohio State, we watch them play, we analyze them. We think they have incredible talent,” Long said the week after the Buckeyes beat Minnesota 28-14. “We think that team is a team that hasn’t played their best yet. We think that their best games are in front of them.”
And this bunch couldn’t extrapolate last December how two powerful Big 12 teams — TCU and Baylor — would do without a conference title game?
Yeah, I think when the quarterback went out, they were solidly in control of that game in the committee’s view.
Long assessing the impact of injuries
Long’s most arbitrary explanation was this gem after Oklahoma had escaped at home with a 30-29 win over TCU. The Sooners vaulted four places and moved ahead of Iowa and Notre Dame.
“Yeah, I think when the quarterback went out,” Long said, “they were solidly in control of that game in the committee’s view. ... Certainly we evaluate that game based on the quarterback being out in the second half, and we believe that had an impact.”
Tom Osborne, Barry Alvarez and Long, in other words, are no doctors. But they play one at the Gaylord every weekend.
What about Baylor losing its two outstanding quarterbacks this season? What about TCU, which didn’t play its Heisman candidate quarterback or its injured All-America receiver in that OU game?
Did they get sympathy consideration, too?
I sorta feel for Long, who is well-liked and has to somehow summarize the myriad of opinions he must hear each weekend. But in so doing, Long has left the unavoidable impression that the 12 committee members are simply making it up as they go.
And that being the case, how are they any better at determining the four best teams than the polls and computers of the previous system?
There is a simple partial solution, of course. Four more playoff berths would quell the anguish of the legitimate contenders left on the bubble. The champions of all Power Five conferences would be served, with room for three at-larges and a Cinderella.
Regional biases could be served (wink, wink) and still have room to accommodate the worthy.
Otherwise, look at last week’s wire and coaches polls. They were the same as the CFP top four was. So tell me — why were these 12 people meeting in Grapevine again?