Barry Alvarez has an idea for college football’s upcoming playoff


Over the course of his storied career in college athletics, Barry Alvarez has proven to be pretty darn good at anything he puts his mind to. Alvarez won a National Championship as a rising, young defensive coordinator at Notre Dame, led Wisconsin to three Rose Bowls in his time as a head coach, and now as the Athletics Director, he oversees one of the most powerful athletic departments in the country in Madison. Simply put, when Barry Alvarez speaks, you better be listening.

That’s why, when Alvarez did in fact speak yesterday, it caught our ears. Barry Alvarez has an idea for the college football playoff which is on the way, and his idea makes too much sense to not be considered. That idea? Rather than letting abstract and confusing computer rankings determine the four teams in a college football playoff, why not get together a selection committee?

Alvarez told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on Tuesday:

“I like a committee and I like a committee that might be diverse enough that maybe you have some national sportswriters in it,” he said recently.

In the words of those old Guinness commercials, “Brilliant!”

Actually, you know what the idea of a selection committee is? Common sense.

As a matter of fact, my only question on the subject is as follows: Why do we have to wait until 2014 to institute the selection committee? Why can’t we just put one in place now to determine the participants in the 2012 and 2013 BCS National Championship games?

It’s a subject I first considered as we approached last year’s BCS National Championship Game, and the debate raged on who was “more deserving” of the spot to play alongside LSU in the title game. To me the issue didn’t ultimately come down to who was more deserving (I favored Alabama personally), and actually, it didn’t come down to “who” was playing at all. What the real issue was, was “how” that team was being chosen. The truth is, I don’t think fans were upset that Alabama was chosen over Oklahoma State per se, but instead they were upset because they didn’t know why the Crimson Tide were the choice. Then again, that tends to happen when you leave these decisions up to an abstract computer formula that is impossible to totally understand.

That’s also why at the time I pushed for a selection committee, if only for simple accountability. Whether you agreed with the decision to put Alabama in the title game or not, wouldn’t it have been nice to at least have someone get on TV and explain why the decision was made? Even in a season like 2010 when Oregon and Auburn were clearly the most deserving candidates, wouldn’t it have been nice to know how much a school like TCU or Boise State might’ve been considered? If college basketball fans can get a Selection Committee Chairman on TV every year following Selection Sunday, why can’t college football fans be afforded the same luxury?

Only it hasn’t happened yet, and the hope is that it might by the 2014 playoff.

As for who would serve on this committee, well, Alvarez again hits the nail on the head by suggesting members of the media. While the coaches poll is currently one of the determinants of who plays in the title game, the truth is, there isn’t a single coach in college football who is actually on the couch watching games like us as fans are. That’s why Alvarez believes folks like Kirk Herbstreit- people who are on the road, talking to coaches, seeing a bunch of different teams- should be in charge of determining who is worthy of playing for a title.

We’ll find out more details on the proposed four-team playoff when the conference commissioners get together in Chicago on June 20.

Hopefully, they’re paying attention to Alvarez now though.

For all his articles, opinions and insight on college football and beyond, please follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.

About Aaron Torres

Aaron Torres works for Fox Sports, and was previously a best-selling author of the book 'The Unlikeliest Champion.' He currently uses Aaron Torres Sports to occasionally weigh-in on the biggest stories from around sports. He has previously done work for such outlets as Sports Illustrated, SB Nation and Slam Magazine.