Rankman: Oregon AD on Committee Raises Conflict Issues. Recuse Me?

Chris Dufresne

When the four-team playoff was formed Rankman told CFP strong man Bill Hancock that having active athletic directors on the selection committee was a bad idea. Hancock patted Rankman on the head and said “thanks.” Then he put active ADs on the committee. It’s not that active ADs can’t be impartial but any whiff of conflict of interest should be avoided. What could go wrong? Once-active USC athletic director Pat Haden was a selection committee member when he charged down from the press box at Stanford to argue with officials on the field. NOT a good look. So, as fate would have it, Oregon AD Rob Mullens is serving as committee chair the year his Ducks are in the thick of a playoff chase. Mullens has to leave the room when Oregon is discussed, which is a lot, but then comes out to update the nation without being privy to all the pertinent information. So here we have an official spokesman (Mullens) who needs his own official spokesman. On the weekly CFP teleconference, Hancock jumped in for Mullens to provide summary notes on Oregon. “The committee discussion about Oregon was their consistent play all season, won nine in a row,” spokesman Hancock said on behalf of spokesman Mullens. The question: is Mullens hurting, or helping, Oregon’s cause? Is his mere presence near the room having any perceived influence? Live wire Paul Finebaum pulled no punches Thursday on his popular SEC-leaning radio show when he said of Mullens, "I frankly don't know if I trust this guy being in charge." A smear campaign against a sitting CFP chair? We thought that only happened to Ukrainian ambassadors. The jet-set hipsters on ESPN's wrap-up show also noted Mullens’ allegiance to a particular university. What they never acknowledge is their own personal leanings in the playoff situation. Alabama and Oregon are locked in a fierce battle for what could end up being the No. 4 playoff position. ESPN host Rece Davis wondered out loud what influence Mullens might have because of his employment at Oregon. Davis is an Alabama graduate, yet he did not have to leave the ESPN set when his team was being discussed. Panelists Joey Galloway and Kirk Herbstreit (Ohio State) and David Pollack (Georgia) also played for schools deeply involved in the playoff discussion. In fact, the five ESPN analysts on Wednesday’s show attended schools with a current CFP ranking average of 3.66. We’re not suggesting those guys or AD Rob Mullens can’t be fair. But why set yourself up for the kind of fan-frenzied backlash that’s going to come if Oregon gets left out, or in, this year’s playoff?

1: LSU (10-0): Tigers have John Wayne at QB; are also tied with Duke at T-47 in NCAA total defense (367.8). (1)

2: Ohio State (10-0): Rankman crediting Chase Young with 45 tackles and 15 sacks he would have had against Maryland and Rutgers. (2)

3: Clemson (11-0): If not for Clemson the ACC would be fighting MAC for lucrative Tuesday night broadcast programming slots.(3)

4: Georgia (9-1): This can't be right: One SEC panelist suggested Dawgs could lose one more and still win the NFC West. (6)

5: Oregon (9-1): Some insiders concerned AD Rob Mullens will leave the room while Oregon is being discussed and never return. (5)

6: Utah (9-1): The “Gary Cooper” of this year’s contenders. Strong, silent-types. But are they good? “Yep.” (7)

7: Alabama (9-1): The physical act of moving Oregon ahead of Tide in the rankings being compared to playing Frisbee with a manhole cover. (4)

8: Oklahoma (9-1): Last week’s huge comeback turn-around over Baylor produces new dance craze: the Boomer-rang. (10)

9: Florida (9-2): The Gator goal now, clearly, is to finish as the fourth best top 10 team out of the SEC**.** (8)

10: Penn State (9-1): Sally Field accepting this week’s overrated No. 8 ranking from CFP: “We can’t deny that you like us right now, you really like us.” (11)

11: Michigan (8-2): Harbaugh says his sole focus right now is not Ohio State but staying wrinkle-free all season with help from Downy. (14)

12: Minnesota (9-1): You beat Penn State head-to-head. So what? I’m supposed to drop everything I’m doing and account for that? (9)

13: Notre Dame (9-2): Consensus at Linebacker’s Lounge is this could be the best season ever with a 45-14 loss at Michigan attached to it. (15)

14: Baylor (9-1): Message board posts with team up 31-10 over OU will hang in Newseum display next to “Dewey Beats Truman.” (13)

15: Wisconsin (8-2): Loss to Illinois reconsidered by parole board and now deemed “not worst cheese choke ever.” (NR)

16: Iowa (7-3): Rankman goes out on limb and says Hawkeyes will not better last year’s 63-0 win at Illinois. (NR)

Next Four Out

Cincinnati: Only chance to get another shot at Ohio State will be next summer in the par-3 contest at Jack’s tournament.

Auburn: Sagarin calls team’s No. 1 schedule tougher than the 16-ounce T-bone served at Waffle House.

Memphis. Game vs. Cincinnati shaping up as epic battle of Tiger vs. Bearcat, which is neither a bear or a cat.

Boise State: Typo in original game notes: “Huge snakes at Utah State this week,” corrected to “stakes.”

Next Four Never:

Akron: Zips fall to 0-11 after allowing 11 sacks in Wednesday night’s loss to Miami of, or about, or near, Ohio.

Rutgers: Players say they were touched and moved by fans’ “21-Point Salute” after loss to Ohio State.

Northwestern: Received “Two Tommy Guns Down” from Capone Society for failing to cover 41-point home spread.

Old Dominion: Plan is to snap a nine-game losing streak this weekend and then apply for membership to ACC.

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Chris Dufresne

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