FAYETTEVILLE — Bill Hancock made a prediction about Jeff Long on Monday.
"He’s fixing to become one of the best-known people in college football," said Hancock, who is the executive director of the College Football Playoff.
It doesn’t mean the Arkansas athletic director’s role as the first chairman of the College Football Playoff selection committee will make him the most popular.
Long — who was announced as the committee’s chairman Monday morning — was formally introduced during a press conference in Irving, Texas, on Wednesday. Long joined Hancock to unveil the 12 others who will join him in determining which four teams will play for the national championship in 2014.
The group includes athletic directors Barry Alvarez (Wisconsin), Pat Haden (USC), Oliver Luck (West Virginia) and Dan Radakovich (Clemson), former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former NCAA executive vice president Tom Jernstedt, former NFL and Ole Miss quarterback Archie Manning, former Stanford/Notre Dame/Washington coach Tyrone Willingham, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael Gould, former Nebraska athletic director/coach Tom Osborne, former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese and former USA Today reporter Steve Wieberg.
Long said the work will be "difficult" and members will need "thick skin for sure."
"We know we admittedly have tough decisions to make," Long said. "We have tough judgments to make. And we know that we’re going to have some fan bases of those teams that feel they should be in, they’re going to be upset. We recognize that. We also think the majority of college football fans across the nation are going to know the integrity of this group and know that, again, we voted for the top four teams or we ranked the top four teams that we felt were the best teams for the playoff."
Hancock said Long was a unanimous selection by the management committee for his role because of his "intellect, judgment, integrity, sheer talent and the deep respect that everyone in college football holds for him." Long has logged 35 years in college football as an administrator, coach and player, which includes athletic director stints at Arkansas, Pittsburgh and Eastern Kentucky.
CBSSports.com college football writer Bruce Feldman, who was the guest speaker at the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club meeting on Wednesday, said the wealth of experience will help Long manage what he described as a "thankless job."
"I think the best thing he has going for him is he’s worked in all these different leagues and knows his way around that," Feldman said. "I think that will help him. And I think a lot of the personalities are people who are pretty amenable and can kind of build consistency, at least."
Hancock called the committee an "all-star team" made up of the "finest, most respected and most knowledgeable college football people" in the country. Football expertise, objectivity, evaluating and discerning information and experience in making decisions under scrutiny were important traits for those selected.
But Hancock said integrity was the top priority. Long’s reputation has soared in that regard since his handling of the Bobby Petrino scandal in 2012.
"Jeff Long is a great choice for Chairman of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee," Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said in a statement provided by Arkansas on Thursday. "He has earned the respect of not only his colleagues and peers, but of virtually everyone in the industry. He has all of the skills and experience necessary to guide this committee and will make a terrific chairman."
Long will be in charge of setting the committee’s agenda and running its meetings. The length of his tenure as chairman has not been determined, but Hancock said Long will serve in that role for the 2014 season and "we’ll go from there."
Formal term limits for every committee member will be established at a later date. The term for committee members will generally be three years, but some will be serve shorter and others longer initially to allow for a rotation.
Hancock and Long both confirmed committee members will not receive stipends.
"We consider this as what we’re giving back to the game," Long said. "I know I do. I consider with my time that I’m giving back to the game, for the love of the game and what the game has done for me. So I’m eager to serve without any remuneration."
Long also said in a statement earlier this week his new role will not take away from his duties as Arkansas’ athletic director. The committee is expected to meet several times during the season and intends to make the selection process as transparent as possible. The committee plans to release collective top 25 polls a few times during the season before making its final decisions at the end of the year.
Long called his new duty as chairman an "unparalleled honor," but couldn’t accept the position until he had permission from two people: Arkansas chancellor David Gearhart and his wife, Fanny, who attended Wednesday’s news conference.
"This job will take a tremendous amount of personal time and I wanted to get the OK from her," Long said. "She was enthusiastically in support of my taking on this role."
So was Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, who said Monday that Long was deserving of the "tremendous honor." Bielema also joked that he didn’t mind the chairman of the selection committee being "a little bit biased," either.
But Long stressed he and the committee members will leave loyalties aside when considering the teams that will play for the national championship.
"In this task we do not and will not represent any one school, conference or region," Long said. "Each of us will represent college football in its totality. And as Bill stressed from the beginning, when we serve on this committee, we are expected to check our various loyalties and affiliations at the door. And when we do that, we will act in a way we believe to be in the best interest of college football."