The College Football Selection Committee “is cooking the books like Enron cooked their books,” according to Joel Klatt on the Colin Cowherd Show on Fox Sports recently. Klatt said the motive of the committee members to do this is because of a strong bias against the Big 12 Conference. He said the Big 12 doesn’t have adequate representation on the committee with only the Texas Tech athletic director serving on it.
Klatt also said because there’s a one-party system here and one network tied into system, no one is speaking out against it. The network to which he was referring is ESPN. An illustration of ESPN’s discrimination against the Big 12 occurred in dramatic fashion during the Baylor-Oklahoma game. ESPN broadcaster Kirk Herbstreit falsely accused a Baylor player of faking an injury to stop the clock. Herbstreit, an Ohio State alumnus, alleged several times on air that Baylor safety Terrell Burt faked an injury. Burt had sprained his right ankle on the kickoff before Oklahoma had snapped the ball twice on that drive, according to Baylor trainer Mike Sims. Sims reported Sunday that Burt’s ankle “is sore and swollen today.”
In the course of the broadcast Herbstreit said on ABC/ESPN, “I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. That is awful. Now he’s going to fake a limp. I mean that’s bush league. I don’t get that…..This is football. That’s unethical. You don’t do that.”
When his more rational fellow broadcaster Chris Fowler inquired if it wasn’t possible Burt was hurt, Herbstreit said adamantly, “No, he was ready to play,” according to the Seattle Times. Herbstreit never produced any evidence to support his claim to Fowler either during or after the show.
Burt’s ankle had to be retaped on the sideline and he missed eight plays. There were more than nine minutes left in the game when Baylor cornerback Ryan Reid suddenly ran toward Burt and motioned for him to get down on the ground. Burt then rolled onto his back resulting in an injury timeout.
Reckless journalism can do harm to these young college athletes on a national level. Burt admitted he was stung by Herbstreit’s false allegations on national television. The Bear senior said he was just trying to be a “warrior” for his team, which he is why he later returned to the game, according to an article in the Waco Tribune. Burt said he holds no grudge against the former Buckeye quarterback who accused him of faking the injury without any truth to back him up.
This is not an isolated incident of Herbstreit’s animosity toward the Waco contingent. At a press conference during the ESPN Night of Champions on January 10, 2015, Herbstreit said, “If I was a Baylor player or graduate, I would be humiliated.” Once again he was talking about an incident involving a player relating to an incident about which he says “he really doesn’t know the facts.”
Herbstreit’s on-air rant against Baylor is only one example of ESPN’s and the Committee’s bias against the Big 12 teams. In his interview, Klatt went on to say the Committee is “100 percent anti-Big 12.” He further said putting the Tech athletic director on the committee was like putting him “at the child’s table during Thanksgiving dinner.” He likened it to the dominant members being at the adult’s table while the sole Big 12 rep is at the kiddie’s table with no real voice.
He previously has said Tom Osborne and Barry Alvarez dominated the committee’s rankings. Klatt said Osborne and Alvarez, who coached several decades ago at Nebraska and Wisconsin, favor the old-style grind it out football of three yards and a cloud of dust. They are hostile toward the spread offenses which dominate the Big 12.
Osborne was around when Nebraska departed the Big 12 for the Big 10. Does he have a motive to vote against Big 12 teams? Does he feel any ill will toward the conference which his school left? In addition to being a grind it out style kind of guy, Alvarez also coached in the Big 10 after being an assistant at Notre Dame. Does he have motive to vote a one-loss Notre Dame above several undefeated teams?
Only Osborne and Alvarez know their true feelings of course. And only Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long, who chairs the committee, knows for sure if the other committee members are brow-beaten by the former coaches. And of course only Long knows if he and the others have a bias toward one-loss Alabama who is ranked above undefeated teams in other conferences.
Klatt further accuses the Committee of propping up their favorite teams in the ratings. One example he gave was of TCU which won a game in which its quarterback was knocked out of the game. The Horned Frogs were dropped in the rankings. The Committee dropped Baylor all the way to 10th based on one loss without its starting quarterback while Notre Dame and Alabama reside in the Top Four with one loss each.
Further, SEC team Alabama lost to Mississippi who lost to Memphis and wasn’t punished in the rankings by the Committee. Evidently, the Committee didn’t hold that loss against the mediocre Rebels against the Tide. Yet if Baylor loses to OU, it gets dropped five slots.
It’s commonly known people with an agenda can influence other members of committees. No one but the committee members themselves know for sure what goes on in their “smoke-filled” room in Grapevine. And ESPN as the only network involved in this money-making system, is not about to call out the committee for rankings based on bias. The incestuous relationship between ESPN and the Committee is resulting in a continuation of a system which has favored the traditional powers over those who have never won national championships before.