football-fbs flag | November 28, 2017

What is the College Football Playoff

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Beginning with the 2014-15 season, college football began the postseason playoff era. The format: four teams, two semifinals played in bowl games and a national championship game. The semifinals will rotate among six bowls: Cotton, Fiesta, Orange, Peach, Rose and Sugar. Each semifinal will be played during the New Year's holiday with the national title game on a Monday night at least a week later.

A committee of university presidents approved a plan for a four-team college football playoff. Here's what you need to know about the postseason format put together by the commissioners of the 11 major college football conferences and Notre Dame's athletic director.

Calendar for 2017 rankings (all times Eastern)

• Oct. 31 – 7 p.m. (ESPN)

• Nov. 7 – 7 p.m. (ESPN)

• Nov. 14 – 9 p.m. (ESPN)

• Nov. 21 – 7 p.m. (ESPN)

• Nov. 28 – 7 p.m. (ESPN)

• Dec. 3 (selection day) – noon (ESPN)

College Football Playoff rankings

The College Football Playoff Selection Committee will announce the playoff semifinal pairings and semifinal bowl assignments at noon on Dec. 4. The committee will announce the Cotton, Fiesta, Peach and Orange bowls pairings, as well as the final top 25 rankings after that.

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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 Nov. 1 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. 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.

Voting Procedures

The committee will rank the top 25 teams in the country and assign teams to the semifinals and to the Cotton, Fiesta, Orange and Peach bowls in years when they are not hosting semifinal games. 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.

Voting Protocol

• 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.

• College Football Playoff: What fans should know  |  Who's on the committee  |  Selection committee criteria

• FBS Independents-- 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.

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