It’s a position that would provide Barry Alvarez access to power, prestige and inside information — three things that make his world go round — so why is the University of Wisconsin athletic director not sold on taking it?
If asked to be on the selection committee that will decide the four-team field for the newly designed college football playoffs, why does Alvarez sound reluctant?
“It wouldn’t be an automatic thing,” he said recently. “I’d put some thought into it.”
Alvarez is arguably the ideal candidate for the committee, which will be comprised of 14 to 20 members and help usher in a new era for the game starting in 2014.
Instead of computers and human polls — unreliable staples for the soon-to-be-dead Bowl Championship Series system that debuted in 1998 — the simply titled College Football Playoff will rely strictly on human experience and expertise.
Alvarez is rich in both areas. Before he became UW athletic director in 2004 he compiled a Hall of Fame-worthy career as coach of the Badgers from 1990 to 2005. He knows talent and schemes. He recognizes quality. He appreciates the level of preparation and luck that goes into each game.
Regardless of who else is part of the decision-making process, Alvarez’s analysis would carry considerable weight and value.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith recently endorsed him as the perfect aspirant.
That acknowledgement made Alvarez smile, but he seemed more caught up in the thoughts of another front-office peer. He recounted a warning issued by Florida AD Jeremy Foley, who is among those who said he wouldn’t serve on the committee if asked.
“There are people that will tear into your background,’’ Foley told Alvarez. “They will try to find anything they can to discredit you. Your email will blow up with people raising hell with you. You couldn’t pay me enough to do that.”
Asked directly if he would have interest in being on the selection committee, this was Alvarez’s initial response: “It’s a lot of work. There’s a lot of scrutiny that will come with it.”
He’s right on both accounts, but those demands are no different for a major college football coach or AD, right?
Just as it started to sound like Alvarez might be compromising the message of bravado in his “Don’t Flinch” autobiography, he stepped up.
“If I were asked,” Alvarez said finally, “it would be hard for me not to (accept) just because I feel I owe it to college football.”
Alvarez attended an April meeting of BCS commissioners and other athletic directors during which the selection committee was discussed. At that point there were no specifics regarding number of members, criteria, protocol or the provincial breakdown of participants.
“There was a lot to be decided,” he said.
A lot of names have been thrown out there as candidates for the committee. Alvarez endorsed some suggestions — former Southeastern Conference commissioner Roy Kramer, former Nebraska coach and AD Tom Osborne and magazine publisher Phil Steele to name three — and crinkled his nose in silence at others, including former Secretary of State and football enthusiast Condoleezza Rice.
“You can’t have just football guys,” Alvarez said. “You need some administrators. They’re talking (about) more ex-media people that know the game and follow it and are willing to put the time in.”
Being on the committee will be thankless and rigorous. It will require travel and research. It will be intense.
It’s a process Alvarez should want to be a part of.