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The College Football Playoffs – A New Era in One of America’s Favorite Sports

Learn how the College Football Playoff committee determines rankings and selects teams to compete for the national championship

The 2014 season is a historic one for college football. After many years of debate among players, coaches, fans, sports analysts and even the U.S. president, a playoff system for the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision was rolled out to replace the Bowl Championship Series, or BCS. Organizers hope this new system will better reflect college football’s top teams.

In the new playoff system, the top four teams selected by the College Football Playoff committee (CFP) will compete in two semifinal games to be played during the New Year’s holiday each year – winners of these games advance to the College Football Championship game, which takes place on the first Monday that is six or more days after the semifinal games.

The traditional (a.k.a. “at-large”) bowl games we are familiar with will host the semifinal games on a rotating basis. For 2014, the Rose and Sugar Bowls will host the semifinals – in 2015, the Orange and Cotton Bowls.

Cities who would like to host the national championship game submit bids to the CFP committee. Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas was selected to host the 2014 championship game.

How does the CFP committee determine the rankings, and ultimately the teams who will complete in the playoffs?

The CFP’s system for determining rankings will be slightly different. Unlike the BCS, AP, or Coaches’ Poll, the CFP will NOT use computer models.

A variety of factors will come into play when the CFP is ranking a team, including:

  • Strength of the team’s schedule (highest significance)
  • Team records
  • Head-to-head results
  • Conference championships
  • Injuries
  • Weather

Although the committee will have access to a wide range of statistics and data, it will not play a formal role in decisions.

The CFP’s voting methods are pretty similar to how teams for the NCAA Basketball Tournament (a.k.a. “March Madness”) are selected.

A large pool of teams is broken into 6 tiers. Each member of the committee votes on the top team for each tier. After voting, the committee eventually reaches a consensus on the rankings for each tier.

Rankings will be assigned each week beginning in week 10 of the regular season, or around the end of October.

After the conclusion of the conference championship games, the committee decides the top four teams and places them in a four-team bracket. Teams ranked #1 and #4 meet in a semifinal, as do teams ranked #2 and #3. The winners of these two games advance to the final national championship game.

The committee will also assign teams to the “at-large” bowl games in years they are not hosting semifinals. These teams will usually consist of the highest-ranked teams from each conference who are not in the playoffs. For the inaugural 2014 season, the CFP will choose who will play in the Orange, Cotton, Fiesta and Peach Bowl.

Who sits on the CFP committee? In other words, who makes these decisions?

The committee is a 13-member panel serving 3-year terms. Members consist of athletic directors from one school in each of the five major conferences (ACC, SEC, Big-10, Big-12, Pac-12), which are also known as the “Power Five”. Other members include former coaches, players, athletic directors and one retired member of the media.

Current CFP committee members include:

  • Jeff Long (Chairman) – Arkansas (SEC) athletic director
  • Barry Alvarez – Wisconsin (Big-10) athletic director
  • Pat Haden – USC (Pac-12) athletic director
  • Oliver Luck – West Virginia (Big-12) athletic director
  • Dan Radakovich – Clemson (ACC) athletic director
  • Michael C. Gould – former superintendent for the Air Force Academy
  • Tom Jernstedt – former executive vice president for the NCAA
  • Archie Manning – former quarterback (NFL, Ole Miss)
  • Tom Osborne – former coach and athletic director for Nebraska
  • Condoleeza Rice – former provost of Stanford and U.S. Secretary of State
  • Mike Tranghese – former commissioner of the Big East conference
  • Steve Wieberg – former reporter for USA Today
  • Tyrone Willingham – former coach for Stanford, Notre Dame and Washington

If history is any judge, controversy is sure to arise when the CFP committee makes its final recommendations for who will compete in the playoffs.

We invite you to check out our blog for up-to-date information on current rankings and teams. And if you’re looking for hand-crafted, high quality footballs for competitive play or memorabilia, we invite you to check out our college football store. And please feel free to connect with us through phone at (972) 292-0700, email, Facebook or Twitter with any questions or comments.

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