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ACC's Push for Coaches' Poll to Be Part of Football Playoff Selection Is Crazy

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ACC's Push for Coaches' Poll to Be Part of Football Playoff Selection Is Crazy

The next big administrative battle on the college football front is the composition of the playoff selection committee, which will decide the participants of the four-team playoff starting after the 2014 season.

My colleague Michael Felder over at Your Best 11 speculated on some potential candidates earlier this month, and Tony Barnhart over at CBSSports.com did the same this week.

The ACC's head football coaches want a say as well, in the form of one vote per coach in the USA Today Coaches' Poll, according to ESPN.com.

Duke head coach David Cutcliffe is the coaches' chair, and spoke on the matter on Wednesday:

The biggest item for us is the criteria of selecting those four teams. We want our coaches' poll to matter. In another sense, all the coaches have a vote on the committee, and we think that's good for the game for the coaches to be good stewards of who's in that national championship picture.

Okay, that makes sense. If we're going to use the coaches' poll as a factor, as the Bowl Championship Series does now, it only makes sense to give every coach a vote. Homerism will exist, of course, but the hope is that homerism will cancel itself out as much as possible, despite uneven conference membership.

Here's where Cutcliffe loses me, and should lose you and the rest of college football:

All of us having a vote, the vote becoming transparent and the vote being conscientiously done. We think we're qualified. We're not watching every game on the East Coast, on the West Coast, but no one else is, either. We see a lot of film of a lot of people. We know who's good, and who's best—maybe moreso than anybody else is looking at the game.

Say what?

I'm all for the transparency part, and have been advocating that members of the selection committee—whether they're former administrators, former media members or (GASP!) former coaches—should be contractually required to be as transparent as possible through mandatory blog posts, and radio and television appearances.

Even when they know votes will be made public at the end of the season, the coaches' poll is good for a surprise or 11.

Cutcliffe specifically stated what's wrong with not only the coaches' poll, but with all polls.

Ignorance.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Duke head coach David Cutcliffe

Sure, current college coaches know the game of college football better than anybody. But it's more important for the selection committee to know about the current landscape of college football than it is the game itself, although a balance between the two would be ideal.

Voters don't watch all of the games now, and that's exactly what needs to change.

Including the coaches' poll (which should be known as the "SID poll" if we want to be truly transparent) would politicize a committee which, at its very foundation, should be as neutral as possible. It would be a front. Coaches don't have the time—nor is it part of their job description—to decide on national championship participants. 

Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Alabama head coach Nick Saban

The job is to get their team in that discussion.

The coaches' poll shouldn't be a part of the mix to begin with. Since it's part of the BCS standings now, coaches have personal, professional and financial interests in its results.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban will make $200,000 for making the four-team playoff, $300,000 for making the championship game and $400,000 for winning the national title under the new format, although he's only eligible for one of those bonuses.

Should he have a say on whether those bonuses are available to him? Of course not. His job is to produce a resume for the playoff, not decide on its participants.

Should the coaches' poll matter?

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We have already churned up the foundation of college football as it is with the four-team playoff. If we're going to reform the system, let's actually reform the system.

If Cutcliffe is talking about having copies of the coaches' poll in the room while members of the selection committee make their decisions, that's fine. It's a nice resource and certainly provides insight into the game. But it sounds more like he and the ACC's head coaches are advocating it to be part of the screening process itself, which simply can't happen.

The coaches' poll will exist whether it's part of the BCS equation, playoff selection committee process or as a stand-alone poll—as is the case with the AP poll.

But if it's used as anything more than a minor point of reference chosen by the individuals comprising the committee, we will be doing this wrong.

 

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