The College Football Playoff Selection Committee has released its "protocols," which makes what amounts to a mission statement sound a lot more sinister than it is. Not that it's completely non-sinister; in fact, there are a least a few things to worry about. But at least we now know what to worry about as opposed to guessing at what the problems could be.
First, the committee added an item to the list of things it would consider that gives them an incredible amount of latitude to arbitrarily move teams around.
Other relevant factors such as key injuries that may have affected a team’s performance during the season or likely will affect its postseason performance.
"Other relevant factors." If a Power 5 team had its long-snapper hurt and lost a game on a punt return, might that vault it over a non-contract team that has one fewer loss, even if the strength of schedule doesn't justify it? Who knows? Well, the selection committee, but that's about it.
And how will these selections be done? Caution: If you are not a Talmudic scholar, reading below this point could cause an aneurism. You've been warned.
1. Each committee member will create a list of the 25 teams he or she believes to be the best in the country, in no particular order. Teams listed by three or more members will remain under consideration.
2. Each member will list the best six teams, in no particular order. The six teams receiving the most votes will comprise the pool for the first seeding ballot.
3. In the first seeding ballot, each member will rank those six teams, one through six, with one being the best. The three teams receiving the fewest points will become the top three seeds. The three teams that were not seeded will be held over for the next seeding ballot.
4. Each member will list the six best remaining teams, in no particular order. The three teams receiving the most votes will be added to the three teams held over to comprise the next seeding ballot.
5. Steps No. 3 and 4 will be repeated until 25 teams have been seeded.
This is helpfully followed in the protocol by eight notes further spelling out the procedure. Yes, there are more notes than there are steps in the process. The procedure apparently mirrors what they do for the basketball tournament, if that makes you feel any better. One of those notes is that the rankings will be selected by secret ballot, because there's no way that could possibly go awry or contribute to conspiracy theories.
On the other hand, there was some good news in the protocols, including spelling out a pretty good recusal policy. It could be better -- the way I read it doesn't prevent a former player from voting for his or her team, as long as they're not compensated by that program's university -- but the committee also announced who will be recused from voting on which team. That practice will hopefully continue.
Air Force -- Mike Gould
Arkansas -- Jeff Long
Clemson -- Dan Radakovich
Mississippi -- Archie Manning
Nebraska -- Tom Osborne
Southern California -- Pat Haden
Stanford -- Condoleezza Rice
West Virginia -- Oliver Luck
Wisconsin -- Barry Alvarez
All in all, it's not a terrible set-up. It could have been much better than it is, but why would we expect the best outcome from the successor to the BCS?