CLEMSON — Content with the outcome of the College Football Playoff’s inaugural, historic decision, Dan Radakovich could escape backlash on social media or in the newspaper.
But Clemson’s athletic director couldn’t avoid the two guys seated in front of him on his commercial plane from Dallas to Atlanta last Dec. 7.
“I think they were Baylor fans. For about the 30 minutes of the flight, they’re just screaming about how the College Football Playoff didn’t do them right,” Radakovich said. “Of course, I sat there with my hat down, reading my book. Luckily, they got off in Atlanta before I did, and that was all I heard.”
Radakovich retold this story in late December, after he and the other 11 committee selectors had settled on Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and, controversially, Ohio State to play for a national title, eschewing TCU and Baylor.
So the committee likely felt some vindication when Ohio State won the national championship; but either way, sight of the first-ever playoff unseen, Radakovich spoke confidently in how his first foray as a playoff voter played out.
“Really, I think people looked at it and said, you know, it’s kind of hard to argue with these four,” Radakovich said. “We’re just moving on from there.”
Radakovich traveled to Dallas seven times between Oct. 28 and Dec. 7 to meet the group of sitting athletic directors and other football dignitaries to compile seven sets of rankings. He said school and conference bias didn’t play a role in the final decision-making.
“It was a really good exercise in consensus building, and people coming forward with different views,” Radakovich said. “Sometimes one was able to convince the other. There were a few a-ha moments along the way. It was a good experience. Looking forward to having the opportunity again next year.”
Radakovich is serving a five-year term, through the 2018 season. The committee will reconvene with a conference call in late January, then an in-person rendezvous around the time of the Final Four in early April.
He said each committee member is being tasked with a small set of suggestions on how to better the process in future years, which will be discussed on the conference call later this month.
“Then we’ll take those ideas — the ones we agree make sense — and move that to the management group, the collegiate commissioners and the athletic director at Notre Dame,” Radakovich said. “They’ll talk about those and see if any of them are feasible.”
Clemson actually had its bowl destination jarred from the Citrus to the Russell Athletic Bowl as a result of the committee making an unexpected last-minute change of lifting Mississippi State above Michigan State, despite neither team playing a game in between the penultimate and final rankings.
This caused for some questions about the reasoning for weekly rankings unveiled by the committee on ESPN programming.
“I don’t know that it was said enough: the rankings are a clean sheet of paper each week,” Radakovich said. “While those teams didn’t play one another, there were other teams around them that played. When you looked at that for the last and final ranking, committee members put up the teams, looked at their full resumes as they compare to other teams, and that’s how it ended up.”
The stakes are higher for Howard’s Rock vandalism, apparently.
Nearly 20 months after Clemson’s famed artifact was damaged, the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit has arraigned Micah Rogers on more serious charges per a Wednesday press release.
The Pickens County Grand Jury served Rogers with grand larceny and malicious injury to property worth more than $10,000. The original charges were trespassing and malicious injury to property worth more than $2,000.
The new charges, dictated after further research into the rock’s value, each carry a potential sentence of 10 years in prison.
“This is not your typical damaged property case,” Solicitor Walt Wilkins told The Post and Courier last summer. “One of the elements we must prove is the value, over a certain amount of money, per the statute. That decides what court it’s in, if it’s a magistrate court or general sessions court, and it decides what the possible penalties are.”
Howard’s Rock has stood atop Memorial Stadium for 47 years, and was used as normal during the Tigers’ 2014 season with a fist-sized chunk of the rock missing after Rogers’ vandalism on June 2, 2013.
Rogers’ trial is yet to be scheduled. He remains free on bond.