Michael Kelly has always done his best work behind the scenes.
But the chief operating officer of the College Football Playoff, the sport’s new postseason organization, has no problem publicly promoting “Extra Yard For Teachers” the CFP’s initiative to help public school teachers.
The CFP has a goal of raising $5 million for education (at least $2 million will come directly from CFP), teaming up with DonorsChoose.org, to help provide funds to public school teachers who increasingly find themselves using money out of their own pockets to educate their students.
Teachers can go to www.donorschoose.org/college-football-playoff/ to register their project requests.
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It’s a smart concept and an easy way to help those who need it. Even N.C. State and North Carolina fans can put down their plagiarism-checker software and agree on that.
“It just makes sense,” Kelly said.
The licensing revenue from merchandise for the CFP will help fund the “Extra Yard for Teachers” initiative. The CFP is also essentially selling a raffle ticket for two tickets to the national championship game in Arlington, Texas, in January to help raise funds.
A $10 donation, at the CFP’s website (www.collegefootballplayoff.com), will enter you for a chance to win two tickets to the first CFP national title game at AT&T Stadium outside of Dallas on Jan. 12.
Kelly, a 44-year-old Wake Forest graduate, worked at the ACC for six years. Before that, he worked for several Super Bowl host committees. The Gaithersburg, Md., native is at least part of the answer to one of the great sports trivia questions of the 21st century: How in Sam Hill did Jacksonville, Fla., ever get to host a Super Bowl?
Aiding the 13-person selection committee, which will choose the four teams who will play for the national championship, is much more manageable by comparison for Kelly.
Unlike the basketball committee for the NCAA tournament, there will be no set guidelines for the committee. There is no official RPI or conference championship automatic qualifiers.
After 16 years of computer polls and complicated (and flawed) Bowl Championship Series formulas, that might not be such a bad thing.
“Anything the committee needs, it’s available to them,” Kelly said.
That means statistics, computer comparisons and video, Kelly said.
“We’re going to give them everything they need to make the best possible decision.”
The four-team format is not perfect and it might not be long for this world, but it is significant progress for a sport that, until 1968, named the national champion before the bowl games.
Basic math – five power conferences for four slots – suggests we’ll be at eight teams before too long but the real genius of the creation of the playoff is the use of a selection committee.
For the first time a group of people will get together and decide which teams will play for the college football national title.
The Associated Press has been crowning a national champion since 1936. I voted in the AP top 25 for nine years. Not once did I ever talk with another voter about which teams I would put on my ballot.
Same protocol went for the coaches.
Just putting intelligent people in a room and letting them talk about the merits of the four teams is a fantastic leap in pragmatism by the last sport in America to embrace the virtue of such thinking.
“Every step of the way, there’s a chance to talk about what’s happened,” Kelly said. “It’s one of the many good things about (the CFP).”
Between the chance for debate and the “Extra Yard for Teachers,” the CFP starts its first year with a 2-0 record.