Remember how excited the college football community was at the announcement of a simple, exciting four-team playoff?
Never fear! College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock was on hand at SEC Media Days to outline the multiple layers of unnecessary excess confusion created by individual bowl mandates for the games just below the Nos. 1-4 Playoff seeds.
An alliance of bowls will rotate hosting duties between the two national semifinal games. However, depending on which alliance bowls aren't hosting that season, individual requirements (particular tie-ins with conference champions or Notre Dame, for instance) make the selection process more than confusing. And Hancock's presentation, which included typing into a projector and a handful of errors and apologies, didn't help.
But it's actually simple enough for college football fans to grasp after a couple runs through.
- The two Playoff bowls (in 2014, it's the Rose and Sugar) get the top four teams. The No. 1 seed gets a semblance of home-field advantage, going to the more geographically advantageous game.
- After that, the remaining four New Year's bowls (this year, the Cotton, Fiesta, Orange, and Peach) fill in according to the rest of the rankings -- with adjustments made for each bowl's conference ties.
- When not a Playoff game, the Rose gets the best Big Ten and Pac-12 teams. The Sugar gets the same for the SEC and Big 12. The Orange gets the ACC and the best team from among a specific cluster. The Cotton, Fiesta, and Peach have no ties.
- Last rule: the highest-ranked mid-major is guaranteed a spot in one of those last three bowls.
- Oh, and all of this is decided by a selection committee.
Hancock used various scenarios based on recent seasons. For instance, here's the 2016 rotation of bowls and semifinals, using the actual rankings from the 2011 season:
And here's the 2017 rotation, using the 2012 season's finish: