Miami University Director of Athletics David Sayler will be joining the College Football Playoff (CFP) Selection Committee, with his three-year term starting later this spring. Sayler is entering this new role alongside two fellow new committee members, Chris Ault from the University of Nevada and Jennifer Cohen from the University of Washington.
Following the introduction of the College Football Playoff in 2014, the CFP Selection Committee has become an integral part of the college football landscape. The committee is responsible for ranking the top 25 teams in the nation, assigning teams to the New Year's Six bowl games and choosing which teams will compete in the four-team College Football Playoff each season.
Sayler said there’s no defined pathway for becoming a committee member. He found his way into the position after attending a mock exercise for the CFP in 2021.
“It was a crash course in how they do this,” Sayler said. “One of the current members of the committee, Gary Barta, was my coach for the session and walked me through how they do it normally, versus how we were doing it. It was a good chance for me to understand how the process worked from there.”
A year after attending the mock exercise, Sayler explained that Jon Steinbrecher, the commissioner of the Mid-American Conference (MAC), informed all of the conference’s athletic directors that a spot on the committee would be opening up for a MAC representative. The athletic directors all voted, and they chose Sayler.
As a member of the selection committee, Sayler said he’ll be responsible for watching all of the games for one or two conferences and for being knowledgeable about all of the teams in those conferences. Fortunately, there are tools available that make this task less time consuming than people might expect.
“They’ve informed us that there is technology available to watch games a lot quicker than most of us do just on our own,” Sayler said. “No commercials, no huddles and you can get through a game in about 30 to 40 minutes.”
In addition to observations from various committee members and traditional statistics, the selection committee also uses a computer algorithm to compare different teams while making ranking decisions.
“When I went to this exercise in 2021, it really showed me a lot about how the computer algorithm works,” Sayler said. “This showed me how detailed the individual team sheets are for every program and all the different metrics that they look at. It was really helpful for me to understand more about how the computer works and the kinds of things that certainly can move the needle in terms of discussion about one team versus another.”
Sayler’s first official meeting with the selection committee will be in Houston later this month. After that, the committee holds a meeting in Florida to kick off the start of the season before gathering in Dallas to complete the CFP rankings each week from Week 9 until the end of the season.
According to Sayler, these new responsibilities will not have much of an impact on his work at Miami.
“I’m fortunate to have a really good staff of people that will be able to do what we need to here in the office while I am traveling, but I’ll certainly stay connected to everybody while I’m traveling and whatnot,” Sayler said. “I don’t anticipate it having any direct effect on my duties here at Miami, which is a good thing.”
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With the new football season inching closer, Sayler is thrilled about getting started in his new role.
“It’s certainly been really nice to hear from all the people around the country that have reached out to say congratulations,” Sayler said. “A really exciting future for us to be able to be a part of this and I look forward to it.”