Answers about football's new playoff
Digging into the process to determine the FBS champion
A committee of university presidents approved a plan for a four-team college football playoff, starting in 2014. Here's what you need to know about the new postseason format put together by the commissioners of the 11 major college football conferences and Notre Dame's athletic director.
How will the teams be chosen?
A selection committee will pick the four teams -- using guidelines such as strength of schedule, head-to-head results and won-loss record -- after the regular season. The committee will give preference to conference champions. The makeup of the committee is to be determined, but it will likely be about 20 conference commissioners and college athletic directors.
Where will the games be played?
The two semifinals will rotate among six sites. The current BCS games are the Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.), Sugar Bowl (New Orleans), Fiesta Bowl (Glendale, Ariz.) and Orange Bowl (Miami). The Cotton Bowl, now played at the state-of-the-art Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, has to be considered a front-runner to land one of the other two spots. Candidates for the other one? Try Atlanta and Jacksonville, Fla.
The championship game will become college football's Super Bowl. Any city can bid on it, even ones that host the semifinals and those that have not been traditional bowl sites. Expect most to be played in dome stadiums or warm-weather sites.
When will the games be played?
The semifinals will be played on Dec. 31 and/or Jan. 1. College football used to own New Year's Day. The Bowl Championship Series got away from that. The leaders of the sport want to reclaim that day. The championship game will always be played on the first Monday that is at least six days after the semifinals. The first "Championship Monday" is Jan. 12, 2015.
Will this put an end to the controversy?
No. Doubling the field from two teams to four alleviates some of the problems that the Bowl Championship Series couldn't solve. There will still be plenty of complaining, but it will come from teams No. 5, 6 and 7, instead of Nos. 3 and 4. That's better. The farther down you go in the rankings, the weaker the arguments get for inclusion. But there are plenty of people out there now that believe four is not nearly enough.
Conservative estimates have the television rights to the new playoff system being worth at least double what the BCS was worth. That means $300 million easy, probably more like $400 or $500. How it gets divided among the conferences is still to be finalized, though criteria has been set up:
• On-field success
• Teams' expenses
• Marketplace factors
• Academic performance of student-athletes
In short the five power conferences (SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC and Pac-12) will get more than the others. The Big East no longer will get a big share, but how much smaller will it be?
How soon and for how long?
The four-team playoff will start in the 2014 season because the current TV deals have already locked the Bowl Championship Series in for two more years. The next round of TV deals will be for 12 years. Those negotiations will begin in the fall. The 12-year deal accomplishes two goals for the commissioners:
• They don't want to deal with this every four years the way they have been.
• It keeps the playoff from expanding for 12 years.
Will it grow eventually?
No doubt. It will be successful, so why not have more of a good thing? Also, many if not all of the people who put this thing together will have moved on when it's time to come up with another plan. College football is moving away from the current bowl system, in which it farms out its postseason to third parties. As a new structure evolves and conferences continue to realign, there is no reason to think the playoff will continue to have only four teams.
• Oct. 28 – 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
• Nov. 4 – 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
• Nov. 11 – 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
• Nov. 18 – 7 p.m. (ESPN)
• Nov. 25 – 7 p.m. (ESPN)
• Dec. 2 – 7 p.m. (ESPN)
• Dec. 7 (Selection Sunday) – 12:45 p.m. (ESPN)
The College Football Playoff Selection Committee will announce the playoff semifinal pairings and semifinal bowl assignments at 12:45 p.m.. At 2:45 p.m., the committee will announce the Cotton, Fiesta, Peach and Orange bowls pairings, as well as the final top 25 rankings.
Frequency of Rankings
The Selection Committee members will meet weekly, in person, on Mondays and Tuesdays to produce rankings. The committee will issue its first rankings Oct. 28, after the completion of the ninth week of the regular season. The committee’s rankings will be announced on ESPN each Tuesday evening for the next five weeks.
Selection Committee members will have a wealth of information including review of video, statistics and their own expertise to guide them in their deliberations. They will emphasize obvious factors like win-loss records, strength of schedule, conference championships won, head-to-head results and results against common opponents. The playoff group has retained SportSource Analytics to provide the data platform for the committee’s use. While the details of the platform have not been finalized, it is anticipated that it will include countless pieces of statistical information for every Football Bowl Subdivision team. It will also include general information such as each team’s opponents’ record and opponents’ opponents’ records. The platform will allow the committee members to compare and contrast every team on every level possible.
It should be noted that the committee will not use a single data point such as the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) that is used for NCAA championships.
The committee will rank the top 25 teams in the country and assign teams to the semifinals and to the Cotton, Fiesta and Peach Bowls in years when they are not hosting semifinal games. The full voting protocol is attached to this release, but in summary the committee will identify small groups of teams that will then be evaluated against each other in a detailed and deliberative manner. The committee will then vote the teams into the rankings in a combined selection-and-seeding process.
College Football Playoff Selection Committee
• Each committee member will create a list of the 25 teams he or she believes to be the best in the country, in no particular order. Teams listed by three or more members will remain under consideration.
• Each member will list the best six teams, in no particular order. The six teams receiving the most votes will comprise the pool for the first seeding ballot.
• In the first seeding ballot, each member will rank those six teams, one through six, with one being the best. The three teams receiving the fewest points will become the top three seeds. The three teams that were not seeded will be held over for the next seeding ballot.
• Each member will list the six best remaining teams, in no particular order. The three teams receiving the most votes will be added to the three teams held over to comprise the next seeding ballot.
• Steps No. 3 and 4 will be repeated until 25 teams have been seeded.
• Any “recused” member can participate in Step No. 1, but cannot list the team for which he or she is recused. “Recused” teams (i.e., teams for whom a member has been recused) receiving at least three votes in Step No. 1 will remain under consideration.
• A recused member can participate in Step No. 2, but cannot list the recused team. If a recused team is within one vote of advancing to the pool, that team will be pooled with the team (or teams) receiving the fewest votes. A “tie-breaker” ranking vote will be conducted among those teams to identify the team or teams that would be added to the pool.
• A recused member cannot participate in Step No. 3 if the recused team is in the pool.
• Between each step, the committee members will conduct a thorough evaluation of the teams before conducting the vote.
• After the rankings are completed, any group of three or more teams can be reconsidered if more than three members vote to do so. Step No. 3 would be repeated to determine if adjustments should be made.
• After the first nine teams are seeded, the number of teams for Steps No. 2, 3 and 4 will be increased to eight and four, respectively.
• At any time in the process, the number of teams to be included in a pool may be increased or decreased with approval of more than eight members of the committee.
• All votes will be by secret ballot.
|• FBS Indepenents -- Army, BYU, Navy and Notre Dame -- also are eligible for the College Football Playoff.|
|2014-15||Jan. 1||Jan. 1||Dec. 31||Jan. 1||Dec. 31||Dec. 31||Jan. 12|
|2015-16||Jan. 1||Jan. 1||Dec. 31||Dec. 31||Dec. 31||Jan. 1||Jan. 11|
|2016-17||Jan. 2||Jan. 2||Dec. 31||Jan. 2||Dec. 31||Dec. 31||Jan. 9|
|• Bold denotes the bowl playing host to a national championship semifinal game.|