Former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer and former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden appear on stage during a fundraiser for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital on Friday night in Knoxville. (AP Photo/Knoxville News Sentinel, Saul Young)
KNOXVILLE — Former Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer is interested in being part of the College Football Playoff selection committee.
Fulmer said Friday that he’d like to be considered for the committee that determines which four teams get picked for the playoff event that kicks off next year. He was speaking before a 15th anniversary celebration of Tennessee’s 1998 national championship team to benefit the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“I would probably do it unless there was some reason not to,” Fulmer said. “I don’t know what all the parameters are.”
The makeup of the selection committee that will determine the four playoff teams hasn’t been determined, but former administrators and coaches, as well as media members, have been discussed as possible candidates. Organizers have said they want a geographic balance to the committee, and conference commissioners have said they don’t want to be included.
“I think it should be former coaches as much as anybody,” said Fulmer, who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame last year. “Yes, I’d be interested in at least learning the parameters of what it would be about.”
Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden wasn’t nearly as enthusiastic about the idea of joining the playoff selection committee. Bowden, whose Seminoles lost 23-16 to Tennessee in the Fiesta Bowl that capped the 1998 season, also attended Friday’s event.
Bowden said last year he wanted to be part of the selection committee. He has since changed his mind.
“The way I feel, to be honest with you, I wouldn’t want to,” he said. “If I felt like I should, after coaching as long as I did, that I owe it to football, I would. But I’d really rather not because you make people mad at you.”
Bowden also feared the possibility of bias toward a particular school or region in the selection process.
“If I was voting, and a team from the West Coast was (undefeated) and a team from Georgia was (undefeated), I’m going to go with the Georgia team because I know their coaches, I know their players, I know their people,” Bowden said. “Somehow, you’ve got to get the human element out of it.”
Tennessee’s Fiesta Bowl victory over Florida State marked the first national title game of the BCS era. The salute to the 1998 national championship team occurred Friday in the weeks leading up to the final season under the BCS system.
The collection of players joining Fulmer included All-America linebacker Al Wilson and cornerback Dwayne Goodrich, who scored on a 54-yard interception return in the Fiesta Bowl. Former Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt also was in attendance at the Tennessee Theatre event.
The ceremony put Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart in an unusual position. Hart, who attended Friday’s event, was Florida State’s athletic director in 1998.
“I have an indelible image emblazoned in my brain forever of Peerless Price going down that sideline,” said Hart, referring to a 79-yard touchdown catch that marked the game’s signature play. “I was on the sideline for the first quarter and then I moved upstairs, and then I came back down probably in the middle of the fourth quarter. I remember (Dwayne Goodrich’s) pick-6 very well too. I’m proud to be between the checkerboards now.”
Wilson said he remembers the excitement surrounding the first title game of the BCS era. He now looks forward to seeing the impact of the playoff system.
“I think the playoffs will give a different perspective about the SEC for sure,” Wilson said. “A lot of times we beat up each other in the SEC and eliminate one another. We’ll see how it turns out. The BCS turned out pretty good. We’ll see how this one does.”