Jeff Long as Chairman of Selection Committee Is Nice, but Conflicts Will Arise

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterOctober 14, 2013

We are headed to a new age of college football following the 2014 season in which a four-team playoff will replace the current BCS system, and the faces of the transition are starting to surface.

Last week, it was reported by's Brett McMurphy that several members of the College Football Playoff selection committee have been informed they made the cut, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long, Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich and former Nebraska head coach Tom Osborne.

Now we know the first leader.

Long stated on his Twitter account that he has been chosen to be the committee's first chairman.

I’m humbled to serve as the College Football Playoff Selection Committee’s first chairman & I am excited to work with the committee members.

— Jeff Long (@jefflongUA) October 14, 2013

CFP executive director Bill Hancock confirmed the appointment on the College Football Playoff official website.

"Jeff has vast experience in college football," said Hancock. "People in intercollegiate athletics hold him in high regard. He is known for his insight, intelligence, wisdom, wit, judgment and calm demeanor. He'll make a great chairman."

If we are going down this road, Long is a good choice. He's extremely transparent and honest. 

When he was forced to dismiss former head coach Bobby Petrino in April of 2012 after Petrino lied about a relationship with a staff member, Long quickly responded to Freedom of Information Act requests regarding the situation. He provided as much information to the public as possible to give some transparency to his decision-making process. 

Honesty will be the most important part of this process.

Nobody is going to agree on all four teams that make the cut during any given year, but as long as the committee can provide the public with as much information as possible regarding how the decisions were made, it will help legitimize the process.

Long has proven that he's not only willing to make tough decisions, but is confident enough in himself to clarify how things are done. 

April 24, 2012; Fayetteville, AR, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks athletic director Jeff Long shakes hands with newly announced head coach John L. Smith following a press conference at the Broyles Athletic Center.  Mandatory Credit: Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

He's also very insular when making big decisions, which might seem like a bad thing in a committee environment, but it's a positive.

He limited outside influences while he was deciding what to do about Petrino. Yes, the John L. Smith debacle was the result, but he made and owned the decision to fire Petrino and subsequently hire Smith.

Limiting outside influences is something that should be a top priority for the selection committee, and having a leader that has a proven track record of doing so will be a plus.

However, these committee members will be fighting internal influences, which is why having athletic directors on the board is not the best idea to begin with. 

If schools in the mix have their athletic directors on the playoff selection committee, that creates a major conflict of interest. We're talking about people who could benefit tremendously in their full-time gig if their school is selected. 

Sure, if a committee member's institution is in discussion, that member can—and probably will—remove him or herself from the discussions, as is the case in basketball. That doesn't prevent the remaining members from voting in a manner in which their programs could stand to benefit.

Football isn't basketball. Fewer games in football creates far more subjectivity at the end of the season than in basketball.

The BCS (soon-to-be CFP) has the money to hire a full-time staff of college football analysts from any walk of life to serve on the committee, and that's the path this process should have taken.

It hasn't, and we're left with a committee that will be fighting internal and external struggles when making their decisions.

Luckily for the committee, they'll be led by Long—a man who's proven over the last few years that he's willing to make tough decisions and own them.