Here’s Your Playoff Committee: National Championship Winning Coaches

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There is no perfect selection committee to pick the four best teams in colleget football.

This is important to acknowledge because with each passing day it seems more and more likely that there will be a committee formed to pick the four best teams for a college football playoff.

It’s not an ideal solution but it is a politically feasible one. 

But who should serve on this committee? 

Media can’t be involved, current college administrators, athletic directors, and commissioners are a biased mess, no matter who you choose there is going to be clear bias or the perception of bias.

The last thing college football wants to do is create their own Congress, a fractious and untrustworthy cabal of cronyism that makes us all throw up our hands in disgust.

No, you need people with something at stake, statesmen of the game whose primary concern at this point is for their own legacies and the game they loved.

You need former coaches.   

But amid an ocean of former coaches, how do you select a committee?

I’ve got an idea. 

Why not make things simple — every national championship winning coach who no longer coaches and isn’t currently on NCAA probation is on the committee by default unless he chooses not to serve. 

Already national championship winning coaches like Florida State’s Bobby Bowden and Georgia’s Vince Dooley have also said they’d be happy to serve on this committee. 

Former Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer tells OKTC this morning, “I’d certainly be willing to serve on the committee if the powers-that-be thought I could help.”

That makes three former national title winning coaches who would be willing to serve on the committee. 

There’s a long list of national title winning coaches who are no longer coaching: USC’s John Robinson, Oklahoma’s Barry Switzer, Nebraska’s Tom Osborne, Pitt’s Johnny Majors, Notre Dame’s Lou Holtz, Clemson’s Danny Ford, Miami’s Jimmy Johnson, Alabama’s Gene Stallings, Miami’s Dennis Erickson, Michigan’s Lloyd Carr, Ohio State’s Jim Tressel — the list is substantial and geographically varied.

Just right there we have 15 national championship winning coaches from several different conferences who no longer coach.

Now, some of these coaches have NCAA issues in their past so there’s probably a need to set parameters to allow an individual to serve on the committee. For instance, Jim Tressel, currently serving a five-year NCAA show cause would be out of the mix.

But this group of coaches would make a great foundation for the committee.  

After all who knows the fiber of a national champion college football team better than the coaches who actually have won national titles?

Sure, there are bias worries. As Phil Fulmer noted to OKTC, “I don’t know if a coach can do it without bias either, but I think we would try. It’s always difficult to be unbiased.”

Fulmer’s acknowledgment points out what would be a certain criticism of the group, how can Texas A&M and Alabama’s Gene Stallings or Florida State’s Bobby Bowden accurately vote for or against their former teams?

They can’t, bias will exist on some level no matter how much you try to erase it. But fortunately it’s unlikely that a particular school will be on the four vs. five border very often. 

So a clear bias wouldn’t arise very often.  

Plus, this is why geographic and conference diversity is important. You can balance out the bias by having representatives of multiple conferences serving on the committee.

Finally, in the present system we allow current coaches to vote for the teams that should play for the title.

Talk about a clear bias.

Using former coaches eliminates this bias.  

What’s more there’s already a coaching legends poll that includes national title winning coaches like Alabama’s Gene Stallings, Florida State’s Bowden, USC’s John Robinson and Georgia’s Vince Dooley.

These former coaches make their ballots public each week. You can review their 2012 choices here. 

Assuming Stallings and Robinson are willing to serve on the committee you’re already up to five members who have won national titles.

Put these men on the committee and publish their final ballots.

These coaches care about their legacies, it’s unlikely any would do a poor job of ranking teams. Sure, you might disagree, but that’s what happens with opinions at stake. Reasonable minds can differ.  

To ensure geographic balance you could even allow each conference that doesn’t have living national title winners to pick trustworthy former coaches to balance out the committee.

You could end up with around 24 total members, have those men vote for the four best teams, tabulate the results, and publish the outcome.


A committee that makes sense and ties the current champion into past generations of college football championships.   

These former coaches are esteemed and trusted members of the college football fraternity. 

Already they’ve won titles of their own, why not trust them to pick which teams and coaches are deserving of joining their exclusive club?

Put simply, former national title winning coaches are the best possible option for a playoff selection committee. Supplement them with former coaches from other major conferences and you’re set. 

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021.

One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape. Throughout the college football season, Travis is on Big Noon Kickoff for Fox Sports breaking down the game and the latest storylines.

Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide.

Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions and was on Fox Sports Bet for four years. Additionally, Travis started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports.

Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers Too.