- College football reporter
- Joined ESPN.com in 2007
- Graduate of Indiana University
Hall of Fame coach Chris Ault has been named to the College Football Playoff selection committee, the CFP announced on Wednesday, along with Miami (Ohio) athletic director David Sayler and Washington athletic director Jennifer Cohen, whose addition marks the first time the 13-member group will include two women.
Cohen and former national college football reporter Kelly Whiteside, who is entering her second season on the committee, are the two women included in the discussions that ultimately determine who competes for the sport’s national title. The CFP selection committee has had one female on its roster every year except 2017.
“We always want to get the 13 best people, and we have that,” CFP executive director Bill Hancock told ESPN. “It just so happens two of them are women.”
The new members, who are chosen by the 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, will begin three-year terms this spring and replace Wyoming athletic director Tom Burman, Colorado athletic director Rick George and former NFL and Penn State offensive lineman John Urschel, whose terms have expired.
This rookie class of committee members is joining the sport’s most scrutinized group at time when the CFP is entering its final season of a four-team field before expanding to a 12-team format in 2024. Hancock said the committee’s protocol for ranking the top 25 teams is not expected to change this season or in the new format.
“The committee’s job won’t change,” he said.
The CFP also extended the term of NC State athletic director Boo Corrigan as selection committee chair for a second season.
“It was a privilege to serve as the committee chair last year,” Corrigan said in a prepared statement. “I thoroughly enjoyed working alongside an outstanding group of individuals who are deeply committed to college football, and I am honored to be asked to return to that role again for the 2023 season.”
With 28 years of head coaching experience over three stints at Nevada, Ault will bring a wealth of on-field knowledge to the debates. He was a starting quarterback at Nevada and returned to his alma mater in 1976 as head coach.
Ault, who is credited with creating the “Pistol Offense” at Nevada in 2005, won or shared 10 conference championships as he navigated Nevada through the Big Sky, Big West and WAC. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2002. He also served as Nevada’s athletic director from 1986-2004. Following his retirement from Nevada in 2012, Ault spent two seasons as a consultant with the Kansas City Chiefs and then two years coaching in the Italian Football League.
Cohen has been at Washington for 24 years and has been the school’s athletic director since 2016. In seven seasons under her leadership, the Huskies have made three New Year’s Six bowl appearances and qualified for the CFP in 2016. Each Power 5 conference has a sitting athletic director on the committee, and Cohen joins the ACC’s Corrigan, the Big Ten’s Warde Manuel (Michigan), the SEC’s Mitch Barnhart (Kentucky), and the Big 12’s Gene Taylor (Kansas State). Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk is entering his second year with the group.
Sayer has led Miami (Ohio)’s athletic department since 2013, and Miami has won 56 conference championships during his tenure. Prior to joining Miami, Sayler spent two years as South Dakota’s athletic director.
There are a total of seven sitting athletic directors on the committee. Other current committee members include former Wake Forest, Ohio and Baylor coach Jim Grobe, former Nebraska All-American offensive lineman and Hall of Famer Will Shields, former Notre Dame linebacker Rod West, and Hall of Fame coach Joe Taylor, whose career spanned stops at Florida A&M, Hampton, Virginia Union and Howard.
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