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Meet the Playoff Selection Committee

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A look at who will make up the first-ever playoff selection committee for the top tier of college football, and the rules for recusing certain members during the voting.

"You know, she was just an assistant to a president. I WAS a president..."
"You know, she was just an assistant to a president. I WAS a president..."
Paul Frederiksen-USA TODAY Sport

We here at OFD enjoy few things more than laughing, especially when it's at the expense of our fellow man. Accordingly, we'll have a running feature in this the inaugural year of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee that parodies the committee members; some will be easier targets than others, no doubt. Like the guy in the image above, who we think may have been added to the committee only for the comic relief of the other members. That, and the ironclad assurance of his open availability.

Before we get into the fun stuff, though, we thought it would be worthwhile to take a serious look (or as serious as we ever get, anyway) at who's on the committee and what their bona fides are. We'll also discuss the recusal element of the committee voting process, which affects who will be able to vote for what teams.

The Committee Members

Jeff Long, Chairman

The current Arkansas and former Pitt AD was chosen by his fellow committee members to be the chairman of the first-ever Playoff Selection Committee™. Aside from the disastrous-yet-defensible Bobby Petrino hire, Long seems to have built a respectable record at Arkansas. After a brief flirtation with other schools in the fall, notably Texas, Arkansas anted up to get Long to stay. So they like him, at least. Long is an Ohio Wesleyan grad and also has administrative experience at Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Michigan, and Eastern Kentucky.

Barry Alvarez

The current Wisconsin AD and former Badgers coach needs no introduction to Notre Dame fans, serving admirably as Lou Holtz's defensive coordinator during the 1988 championship campaign. Alvarez transitioned seamlessly from coordinator to coach, resuscitating a moribund Wisconsin program and becoming the winningest coach in Wisconsin history. In addition to his time at Notre Dame, Alvarez was an assistant for one year at Iowa and played at Nebraska.

Mike Gould

Lt. Gen. Gould (Ret.) served as superintendent of the Air Force Academy from 2009 until his retirement from the Air Force last summer. He also was a star defensive back for Air Force in the seventies, and a grad assistant there after he graduated. His selection was somewhat controversial as he hasn't been involved in football in any official capacity since 1977, and there have been rumors (which he vehemently denies) that as superintendent he squashed assault and drug investigations into Academy football players. He has a long and distinguished military career, though, and certainly is able to fill any gravitas requirement.

Pat Haden

The current USC AD and former Notre Dame broadcaster is a familiar face in South Bend. Yes, he represents the hated Trojans, but if Irish fans can set that aside they'll see a modern Renaissance man. Haden won two titles at USC, was a Rhodes Scholar, earned a JD from Loyola Marymount, spent five years in the NFL, and was a practicing attorney and a partner in a private equity firm before taking the USC job. He's also extremely active in charitable organizations. He's connected with the enemy, but I think Haden is a high-integrity and trustworthy pick.

Tom Jernstedt

The career legacy of Jernstedt is that of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, which he essentially drove to be the leviathan it is today. He served the NCAA in administrative positions of increasing responsibility from 1972 to 2011, when Mark Emmert brought on a new management team. In addition to knowing how these playoff things work, Jernstedt is a double Oregon alum who played quarterback for the Ducks before injuries took him away from the game.

Oliver Luck

Known to younger fans primarily as the father of Andrew Luck, Oliver is noteworthy in his own right. After starring for West Virginia at quarterback - and twice earning first team Academic All-America honors - Luck spent five seasons with the Houston Oilers before earning his law degree and moving to Germany. Luck was a key figure in the World League/NFL Europe, before holding various senior positions back stateside with the NFL and ultimately becoming AD at his alma mater. Luck earned his JD from Texas.

Archie Manning

Archie Manning may well be the best bad-record quarterback in football history; he had considerable talent but was stuck in an awful Saints franchise for the meat of his career, after setting school records for a middling Ole Miss program. He now does some radio and TV work as a football analyst, in addition to running the Manning Passing Academy. He has also been recognized by the Boy Scouts for outstanding service to youth, and by all accounts seems to be a pretty good guy. And you might have heard of his kids.

Tom Osborne

Unarguably the greatest coach in the storied history of Nebraska football, Osborne piled up 255 wins and an .836 win percentage on the plains. His time there was not without controversy - notably in the handling of Christian Peter's multiple sexual assaults and Lawrence Phillips's violent assault of his ex-girlfriend - but vis a vis the committee, he certainly knows football. After stepping down as the Huskers coach he served six years in the House of Representatives before returning to Nebraska as AD from 2007 to 2013. Osborne is a Hastings College alum with a master's and PhD from Nebraska in educational psychology.

Dan Radakovich

The Pennsylvania native and current Clemson AD has spent his entire life around football - his father, Dan Sr., coached in college and the NFL for 50 years, inspiring Penn State's "Linebacker U" sobriquet  in his 12-year stint at Penn State. In addition to Clemson, Radakovich was AD at Georgia Tech and has held other administrative roles at Miami, South Carolina, and LSU. He played his college ball at Division II IU-Pennsylvania and holds an MBA from Miami.

Condoleezza Rice

Politics aside, Rice is a shining example of achievement for both women and minorities. Born in racially segregated Birmingham, Rice earned her bachelor's degree cum laude from Denver at age 19, her master's degree from Notre Dame at age 20, and her PhD from Denver at age 26. The former US National Security Adviser and Secretary of State also became one of the first two women admitted to Augusta National Golf Club, and is a self-professed sports--and especially football--junkie. She was at one point in a relationship with Jack Donaghy, an executive at Notre Dame broadcasting partner NBC. She is an active faculty member in the Political Science department at Stanford.

Mike Tranghese

Tranghese was instrumental in the founding of the Big East, served as its commissioner from 1990 to 2009, and led the BCS administration from 2003 to 2004. Not every Big East fan remembers Tranghese fondly, but he had something of an impossible task to keep the Big East alive and is respected in the sports administration community.  There's a very interesting Q&A he did with a blog in 2012 that illuminates some of his thinking on college football and the postseason--check it out. Tranghese is a double St. Michael's College alum.

Steve Wieberg

The long-time sports writer spent 30 years at USA Today, beginning when the paper was first launched in 1982. He specialized in college football and basketball coverage, as well as notable work around NCAA and collegiate finances. He--gasp!--eschewed Twitter and other new media as a source, instead preferring to rely as heavily as possible on face-to-face contact and personal relationships. Hardly the garden variety mindless jock journalist, Wieberg should prove a thoughtful contributor. He holds a journalism degree from Missouri.

Tyrone Willingham

Willingham was a quarterback for Michigan State, then bounced around as an assistant before landing on Dennis Green's Stanford staff. Ty followed Green to the Vikings before returning to Stanford as head coach in 1995. He did reasonably well at Stanford, compiling a .549 win percentage and reaching the Rose Bowl in 2000; that catapulted him to an ultimately tumultuous tenure at Notre Dame, which led to a catastrophic tenure at Washington. He then went on to helm the AFCA for one year, and to serve as a volunteer assistant coach for women's golf at Stanford. Ty announced in 2010 that he was retiring from coaching, which translates into "I got canned two years ago and haven't gotten any calls." Given his behavior when he was fired at ND I frankly don't trust him to judge us fairly, but he's only one of thirteen.

What About That Recusal Thing?

Ah yes.... Essentially, if a committee member or immediate family of a committee member is paid by a school or provides any services to a school, they can't vote for that school or help decide what bowl game that school will play in. In reality it's a touch more nuanced, but that's really all you need to know if you want a high-level understanding. For this coming season, these are the recusals:

  • Air Force – Mike Gould
  • Arkansas – Jeff Long
  • Clemson – Dan Radakovich
  • Mississippi – Archie Manning
  • Nebraska – Tom Osborne
  • USC – Pat Haden
  • Stanford – Condoleezza Rice
  • West Virginia – Oliver Luck
  • Wisconsin – Barry Alvarez

The committee is also empowered to add other recusals for "special circumstances." For example, if Notre Dame sues Ty Willingham for trying to flush the program down the toilet, he'd probably be recused from votes on Notre Dame. Hmm....

Committee members normally serve for three years, but some of this first batch will serve for two and some for four so they can stagger the replacements. Notably, it's one-and-done - there are no second terms. Gould, Haden, Osborne, and Tranghese will serve for two years; Alvarez, Luck, Manning, and Rice, three years; and Jernstedt, Long, Radakovich, Wieberg, and Willingham, four years (because of course they did).