No one is quite sure what to expect when the College Football Playoff selection committee makes its selections for this year's inaugural four-team tournament. But if they think the choices will follow the national polls, Barry Alvarez says to think again.
In a lengthy interview with ESPN.com, Alvarez offered some insight into the criteria he'll be looking at throughout the football season. While the former Wisconsin head coach and athletic director says that he glances at the AP and USA Today Top 25 polls, he insisted that they aren't meaningful in helping him rank the country's best teams.
Alvarez also said that margin of victory is too simplistic a metric to use in judging a team. Instead, he'll look at the relative performances of offensive and defensive units.
That means assessing not just how much one team scores in a game, but rather how many points were scored relative to the average allowance of the opposing defense.
Alvarez is somewhat of a living legend in college football. He's Wisconsin's most successful head coach, and he guided the program to continued success as the school's athletic director. A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Alvarez's name was one of the first mentioned when the playoff committee was first established.
Alvarez won't abstain from polls entirely: The playoff committee will start putting theirs out weekly in the second half of the season. The former coach said he's glad they are waiting until late October to start publishing polls, giving him and other committee members time to sort the contenders from pretenders.
Also worth noting is that committee members have latitude in how they choose to judge respective teams. Each has an array of tools they can use to evaluate teams throughout the season, including access to coach game tape and condensed broadcasts of each game, which let the committee members watch an entire game in just an hour.
The first committee poll will be released on Oct. 28. Fans should brace for fireworks: While the playoff was designed to remedy some of the controversy created by the BCS, the subjective nature of the committee's decision-making process seems to set the stage for familiar controversy -- only now in a slightly different form.