By DAVE SKRETTA, Associated Press
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Big 12 favors a selection committee to be involved in picking the four teams involved in a college football playoff instead of a system that would emphasize conference champions.
Interim commissioner Chuck Neinas also said during the league's spring meeting Wednesday that the current Big 12 membership is content with 10 schools after inviting TCU and West Virginia, though he left open the potential for future expansion.
Several configurations of a four-team playoff are being presented at conference meetings around the country. How the teams will be picked is one of the items up for discussion. One model is based upon picking the four best teams and the other model involves conference champions playing their way in.
"We're in favor of taking the four highest-ranked teams," said Neinas, who has begun to transfer power to new Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. "We think it should be some type of selection committee operation, and how you rate a conference champion, strength of schedule must be included."
Iowa State's Jamie Pollard, the chairman of the conference's athletic directors, believes a human element to the selection process means Oklahoma State would have been involved in a playoff last season.
The Cowboys missed out on playing for the championship when they finished behind Alabama in the BCS standings, relegated instead to playing in the Fiesta Bowl. The Crimson Tide failed to win its division in the SEC, yet managed to beat LSU — the team that did — to win the national title.
"There needs to be a human element to kind of handle the unknowns. You can't always say computers get it right or opinion polls will get it perfect," Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said. "You still need someone with good, rational thinking to deal with unforseen circumstances that may come up.
"Who knows what form that takes," Castiglione said, "but some form of human element that gets college football to the point of determining the best teams."
The Big 12's athletic directors also discussed whether a four-team playoff would be part of the current bowl system, perhaps with current BCS sites rotating as hosts of the games.
Neinas said the Big 12 favors playing the semifinals outside of the bowls, but that there is a "strong feeling" among other conferences that it would be best to incorporate the semifinals within the bowl configuration with a standalone national championship.
Along with deciding college football's national champion, the other topic of discussion during the start of the three-day meetings was whether the Big 12 will add additional members.
Florida State, Clemson and Louisville are among several schools that have been linked to the conference as possible expansion targets.
"You have to analyze whether you want to go beyond 10 first," Neinas said. "There's more to it than just adding a member. How it impacts the membership in terms of the BCS standings, how it impacts the television arrangement, how it impacts the basketball arrangement, what it does to other sports. I think you have to take an analytical approach to it."
The Big 12 acted swiftly to invite West Virginia and TCU late last year when it looked as if the future of the league was in jeopardy. Several football coaches, including Kansas State's Bill Snyder, have hinted that they would like to see two more teams added and the return of a conference title game.
Pollard said that may not necessarily be in the league's best interest.
While a title game potentially means more revenue, it also means a team headed for a proposed four-team playoff could lose its spot if it lost to an opponent with a middling record.
"The first time someone's best team gets knocked out of the four-team playoff because they lose to a 7-5 team," Pollard said, "we'll see how long they want to keep a conference championship game."
As it stands, the 10 members of the Big 12 will play a nine-game, round-robin schedule that almost certainly means their champion will have played a difficult enough schedule to be involved in a playoff.
Pollard said the topic of expansion was discussed at length during a series of meetings in April, but the current membership has come to the unanimous decision that it's best to let the college football playoff system shake out before deciding whether to invite any additional members.
"I would say the position we're in is very proactive," Pollard said. "We think we're positioned in a way that we've got all the iterations covered, and can act accordingly if we need to, but we think right now, the way it's turning out, we're the ones left standing."
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