Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long admits there is scrutiny and pressure with the job he has, but he also just added some more of both as he is now the chairman of the College Football Playoff selection committee.
Jeff Long knows some fans won't be happy with the committee's choice of four teams.
Long has had a whirlwind week since the committee was announced, but took the time to meet with the local media on Thursday afternoon. Long and the other 12 committee members will decide the four teams that advance to the College Football Playoff in 2014.
“I'm excited to have this opportunity,” Long said. “When I was first asked if I would be interested in serving on the committee I was humbled, honored and all those things. I didn't expect it. I knew they were making recommendations from each of the FBS Conferences.”
The College Football Playoff will replace the Bowl Championship Series. It will be a similar to the committee that picks the teams for the NCAA basketball tournament. Instead of 68 teams there will only be four in football, but Long likes the format.
“I think this is the best solution for being able to incorporate the bowl games,” Long said. “I have always been a proponent of the bowl games. I think the bowl games are a great part of our history and tradition.
“I'm glad we've been able to find a way to keep the bowl games, but yet find a truer national championship by having four teams seeded and compete in the semifinals and national championship game. I'm excited about that.”
To serve on this committee will require a lot of time, Long addressed that issue on Thursday afternoon.
“Certainly when I was approached that was the first question,” Long said. “My first question was, 'Will my serving on the committee have any negative impact on the University of Arkansas when we play our way into that position?'
“The answer to that was no. There is no negative impact on Arkansas so that was important to me. Secondly is the time commitment. We tried to get an idea of what that time commitment would be. That really was a personal decision. The first place I went to was my own wife because I'm going to commit the time to Razorback athletics, that's my number-one goal. I'm not going to change that. It's personal time, that's where the impact is really going to be. Personal time with my wife and my daughter.”
Tom Osborne will be one of the members of the committee along with Long.
Long was asked when he was first contacted about possibly being on this committee?
“I got asked sometime in June or July, I don't remember the specific time,” Long said. “If I would be willing to serve. I gave a preliminary yes I would, but I wanted to know more if I got down close to being accepted.
“Sometime in July I was called by the Commissioner of the SEC and told I had been a unanimous selection of the management committee if I would be willing to serve. That's when I inquired more about the time commitment and those kind of things.”
Long said some more time passed before he was notified he would be the chairman of the committee.
“It has just been the last week and a half or two weeks that they came back, Bill Hancock called me, about serving as the chair,” Long said. “The chairmanship has been a more recent thing in the last couple of weeks.”
Long also addressed the length of time each of the committee members will serve on the committee.
“The terms are unclear at this point,” Long said. “Generally, they will be three-year terms, but as we begin we will have to stagger those appointments. We don't want everyone rolling off after three years.
“Some people may only serve a year, some people may serve full. We will work that out as a committee. That's part of the work the committee will do when we first get together. It's also unclear at this point, I have agreed to chair for the first year and it's unclear, one, if they would want me to continue or whether that is an option. It's unclear how that will play out.”
Long said the initial process will be one that requires a lot of work and time since it is starting from basically scratch.
“In the first year it will be quite a bit,” Long said. “We've got to put together the procedures and protocols from within the committee. Certainly we will have a of things from the basketball committee to draw from, but I will have to lead that with the committee and make those determinations as we go on.
“I will meet with the committee for the first time next month (in Arlington, Texas) to begin to plot that process. I will be working very closely with Bill Hancock, the executive director, and his staff to develop the agenda and then make sure we stay on course through that agenda. I will be the spokesperson for the committee as we address things through the next football season.”
Long knows that with the passion fans have for their particular school that some will always not be happy with the four schools that are chosen. Some will always feel their school was left out and should be in the four-team field.
“When you go into this you know that ultimately there's going to be a group of fans that are unhappy,” Long said. “It's going to come with the territory.
“But, I do think overall college football fans are going to be more satisfied determining the national championship on the field. Certainly team's five, six, seven or eight may feel they are more deserving of being team four. That's going to happen in any situation. We see it in the men's basketball tournament. Team's 69, 70, 72 or whatever think they should in that 68. That's going to happen, this system doesn't change that. But again, it's a collective decision of 13 people with high intelligence and high integrity to do what they feel is in the best interest of college football as they rate these teams.”
The other committee members are Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin athletic director; Pat Haden, Southern Cal athletic director; Oliver Luck, West Virginia athletic director; Dan Radakovich, Clemson athletic director; Tom Jernstedt, former NCAA executive vice president; Tom Osborne, former coach and athletic director at Nebraska; Mike Tranghese, former Big East commissioner; Archie Manning, former Ole Miss and NFL quarterback; Tyrone Willingham, former coach at Notre Dame, Stanford and Washington; Lt. General Mike Gould, former superintendent, U.S. Air Force Academy; Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State; and Steve Wieberg, former USA Today college football reporter.