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Who’s Who on the College Football Playoff Committee

A closer look at Who's Who on the College Football Playoff Committee reveals a football Babylon for another CFP blockbuster.

Who’s Who on the College Football Playoff Committee

The College Football Playoff is in its second year. The creation of the Playoff with its Committee and Rankings is yet another phase in the evolution of one of mankind’s greatest mysteries: Who is this year’s best college football team? The College Football Playoff is like a magnificent blockbuster movie that nobody can miss and everybody critiques. And, like any blockbuster film, the CFP needs a production crew, a director, and a cast of characters. The College Football Playoff, the Committee, and its Rankings are master strokes of mega-marketing and box office success.  Who’s who in the College Football Playoff Committee, cast and crew?

The executive producer of the CFP film is Bill Hancock. His official position is “the president of The Company.” Hancock’s bio on the CFP website lists his considerable, if not dubious, sports résumé.

He spent 16 years with the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, 13 years as its director. In 2005, he was appointed administrator of the BCS. He became executive director in 2009 and was named to the same role for the playoff when it was created in 2012. Hancock has served on the United States Olympic Committee staff at 11 Olympic Games and two Pan American Games.

The NCAA, the USOC, and the BCS. Hancock was also Assistant Commissioner for the Big 8 Conference during one of the most explosive scandals in college football history. The SMU fiasco broke wide open during his Big 8 tenure from 1983-1989. Dan Wetzel, author of Death to the BCS, has written extensively about the notorious reputation earned by the BCS. Following a Fiesta Bowl scandal that included, among other things, a strip-club expense account and illegal political donations, Wetzel summed up the BCS experience:

The BCS’s sole positive claim is that it was better than the old system at matching top teams in a title game. A push-button phone was better than a rotary dial. Color TV beat black and white. While the rest of the world embraces improvement and evolution, college football’s power brokers subjected fans of the sport to this nonsense for 16 years. The BCS is old enough to drive. And you know some fat-cat bowl director would’ve bought it a Mercedes.

Ok. Every big movie needs an executive producer with greasy palms. At least Hancock knows how college football operates.

Jeff Long, the Committee Chair, directs the CFP film and plays a starring role. Long hired Bobby Petrino in his position as athletic director for Arkansas. Petrino had flirted with a harem of major college football programs during his first stint at Louisville before he finally decided to take a bag of cash from the Atlanta Falcons. After Long sealed the deal for Arkansas Petrino resigned in Atlanta via a four sentence letter placed in every player’s locker. Petrino’s non-football tryst in Fayetteville ended up in a mangled pile of motorcycle and marriage debris. Long fired Petrino and hired Brett Bielema out from under the unsuspecting Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez (a fellow Committee member). Jeff Long knows the college game.

Lieutenant General Mike Gould is all Air Force.  His credentials point to dropping an atomic bomb more than selecting the four best teams in the country, but he does have some college football cred. He played for the Air Force in the 70s; and he served as Superintendent for the U.S. Air Force Academy from 2009-2013. Gould knows how to protect the sanctity of the Playoff. This is from Gould’s Wikipedia entry:

After his committee appointment, a controversial program came to light in a Colorado Springs Gazette article. To help combat illicit drug use and sexual assaults by Air Force Academy students, the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) created in 2011 a system of student informants to hunt for misconduct among students[8] …The New York Times has cited a letter to Congress from former AFOSI Agent, Staff Sergeant Brandon Enos, who said that Gould had interfered in cases involving football players…A recent special on ESPN E60 titled “Operation Gridiron” aired on 11/04/2014 showed an in-depth look at the scandal at the Air Force Academy regarding drugs and rape which took place under Lt. Gen Michael Gould’s leadership. It uncovers how Gould not only attempted to cover up the scandal and protect high-profile football players at the Academy, but also set out to punish the students who provided intelligence on the scandal. [11]

Condoleezza Rice was cast because she is a big football fan. Rice did serve as Stanford’s provost from 1993 to 1999. Stanford’s hope are dim, but poor Condi still has Bama to root for. Her hometown is Birmingham. Rice’s performance in the Bush administration can only be regarded as a solid credential for college football. After all, as National Security Adviser she overlooked a top-secret intelligence briefing titled, “Bin Laden Threats Are Real.” She proved herself a skillful actor as she propagated myths leading the United States into the Iraq War.

Kirby Hocutt, athletic director at Texas Tech, was added to the Committee as a replacement for Oliver Luck. Hocutt was the athletic director at Miami (The U) from 2008-2011. As a former enabler of serial booster Nevin Shapiro, Hocutt also knows the college football game.

A person familiar with the situation said much of Shapiro’s access to Hurricane programs in recent years was approved by former athletic director Kirby Hocutt, who has since left the school for Texas Tech. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing joint investigation between the university and the NCAA.

Hocutt, the person said, allowed Shapiro on the sideline before football games at times during the 2008 season, plus invited him to select gatherings reserved for the athletic department’s biggest donors.

“That’s what Kirby did,” the person said. “His No. 1 job was to raise money and this Nevin Shapiro guy was one of the few people Kirby could get to write checks.”

Barry Alvarez, a Nebraska alumnus, was defensive coordinator for the 1988 National Champion Notre Dame.  He ran into myriad issues including NCAA probation as head coach and athletic director for Wisconsin from 1990-present.  As the Badgers’ football coach he got carte blanche from disgraced Miami President Donna Shalala when she presided over the establishment of Wisconsin as a national power. Interestingly enough, Alvarez got fleeced for about a million dollars as an investor in the tangled web of Nevin Shapiro’s Ponzi scheme.

Dan Radakovich is the athletic director at Clemson.  That’s neutral. As athletic director for Georgia Tech Radakovich micromanaged a relatively minor “improper benefits” infraction into a full blown scandal. When the NCAA came snooping around the Yellow Jackets’ football program Radakovich tipped off head coach Paul Johnson. He wasn’t very forthcoming with investigators either. The NCAA slapped a $100,00 fine on the cash strapped university and stripped Georgia Tech of its first ACC title in 19 years.

Tom Osborne.  Enough said.

Mike Tranghese is the former commissioner of the defunct Big East Conference. He served as Commish from 1990-2009 and oversaw the disintegration of a perennial NCAA power conference in basketball and an emerging power in football.

Bobby Johnson coached Vanderbilt from 2002-2010. That probably qualifies as college football knowledge. He also graduated from, and coached at, Clemson. Again, neutral.

Tom Jernstedt is a former NCAA Executive Vice-President.  He is an Oregon alumnus who now does consulting work for the Mountain West and the Big 12.  One interesting sidebar is his NFL involvement as a member of the Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee, Board of Directors.

Steve Wieberg must represent the media.  He is a former college football and basketball writer for USA Today.  His current position is writer/editor in the public affairs department of the Kansas City (Mo.) Public Library.  OK.

Tyrone Willingham was an interesting choice, but it can’t bode well for Notre Dame.  Everyone remembers the ugly swap ND made when they fired Willingham to hire everybody’s favorite – Charlie Weis.  He had stints at Stanford and Washington.

The College Football Playoff Committee is the perfect blockbuster. It is produced by Hancock, a willfully ignorant, well-connected, and rapacious college football rainmaker. Its director, Long, is conflicted and vain. (He can’t keep himself away from the camera.) The cast is cultivated from college football’s version of Hollywood Babylon. Condoleezza Rice brings a touch of political intrigue and Lt. General Mike Gould provides a whiff of military splendor. Hocutt, Alvarez, Radakovich, Osborne, and Tranghese represent decades of collegiate athletic direction and “higher” education. And every blockbuster movie has its share of glorified role players. The College Football Playoff better provide another worthy Final Four. The first time The Company produces a dud lots of people are going to take a closer look at their machinations. And nobody on The Committee wants any part of that.

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