For most of the past month they have been in the shadows, posting their rankings each week, with the results having little consequences beyond social media debates.
But, as it has been the case each season for the past four years, we are now entering the Spotlight Dance competition. When what they do, how they do it and why they do it will be probed and debated–and on Sunday afternoon it will have real consequences.
We are talking about the 13-member panel known as the College Football Playoff Selection Committee.
For the record they are: Kirby Hocutt, Director of Athletics, Texas Tech (Chair), Frank Beamer, former head football coach at Virginia Tech, Jeff Bower, former head coach at Southern Mississippi, Herb Deromedi, former head football coach Central Michigan, Chris Howard, President Robert Morris, Tom Jernstedt, former NCAA executive Vice President, Bobby Johnson, former head coach Vanderbilt, Jeff Long, former director of Athletics, Arkansas, Rob Mullens, Director of Athletics, Oregon, Dan Radakovich, Director of Athletics, Clemson, Gene Smith, Director of Athletics, Ohio State, Steve Wieberg, former college football reporter, USA Today, and Tyrone Willingham, former head coach Stanford, Notre Dame and Washington.
Their rankings will decide which four teams compete for the national championship in January.
Several scenarios are possible.
The least controversial is within sight. If Wisconsin and Oklahoma win their respective conference championship games on Saturday there will be few arguments. The winners of the SEC (Georgia-Auburn) and ACC (Clemson-Miami) will fill the other two slots. The Pac-12 championship game winner (USC-Stanford) has almost no chance of making the Final Four and NO chance if Wisconsin beats Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game and Oklahoma beats TCU in the Big 12 title game.
But….if Ohio State wins and/or TCU wins, there could be the mother of all controversies.
The most talked about debate involves a situation in which two-loss Ohio State beats Wisconsin, which would force a decision by the committee involving Ohio State or Alabama, which was knocked out of the No. 1 post in the country (and out the SEC title race) after its loss to Auburn last week.
But the Armageddon of controversies could be created with two results. TCU beats Oklahoma and Ohio State beats Wisconsin. That would open two spots in the playoffs and force the committee to choose between USC (if it beats Stanford), TCU, Ohio State and Alabama.
It would get even worse if Georgia beats Auburn. That would force the committee to pick two teams among USC, Ohio State, Auburn and Alabama.
The fate and direction of the 2017 college football season will be dictated by what happens on Friday and Saturday and what the committee announces on Sunday, which is why it is this week’s TMG’s Newsmaker of the Week.