In the first year of the College Football Playoff existence, UO director of athletics Rob Mullens got to experience the selection process as a participant, before Oregon's run to the national championship game to cap the 2014 season.
For the last two years, Mullens had an insider's view, as a member of the 13-person selection committee. And for the next two years, Mullens will gain yet another perspective, after being announced Wednesday as chair of the selection committee for a two-year term beginning with the 2018 season.
"This is an incredible honor," Mullens said. "It's the opportunity to be involved in an extremely important, intense element of college athletics, with the added bonus of working alongside a group of accomplished professionals. I was obviously a firm believer in the process already, but stepping into it and having a chance to be part of the committee, it reaffirmed everything."
Mullens, who has been director of athletics at Oregon since 2010, will be the third CFP selection committee chair since its inception. He follows former Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long and, for the past two seasons, Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt.
Hocutt was chair for the first two years of Mullens' term on the committee. Mullens is being appointed to a two-year term as chairman – which will include being spokesman for the committee following the weekly rankings that are released beginning midway through the season.
"Kirby's done a fantastic job," Mullens said. "Having the opportunity to serve under his leadership for two years was a great experience. Although the chair serves as spokesperson, you're really there to represent the voice of the committee. Every member is extremely involved; they arrive incredibly prepared and ready to get it right. The chairman is just the voice of the committee, a role Kirby handled extremely well."
The selection committee meets over two days at the beginning of each week in Dallas, beginning at midseason. It ranks a weekly top 25 and then, after the regular season, chooses the four playoff semifinal participants as well as the matchups for the other New Year's Six bowl games.
Individual committee members are assigned as "point person" for individual conferences; in 2017, Mullens was responsible for providing research on the Big Ten and Mountain West. The chair is not tasked with that responsibility, instead setting the agenda and facilitating discussion in the meetings, then serving as spokesman along with CFP executive director Bill Hancock.
"We are delighted that Rob will be stepping into this role," Hancock said. "He is an experienced committee member, extremely passionate about college football, detail-oriented and brings a high level of energy that is perfectly suited to chairing the committee."
Hancock originally contacted Mullens about his possible appointment as chair. The CFP management committee, made up of 10 conference commissioners and the athletic director from Notre Dame, officially appoints the chair.
"The system works," Mullens said. "You're in there with 12 other outstanding people who understand the enormity of the task, who have great integrity and value the importance of integrity to the process.
"When you have 13 different voices, there's a lot of conversation. But I always left knowing that everybody in there had integrity at the top of their mind, everyone was well-prepared, and the conversation was incredibly thorough."