How the College Football Playoff will work has been the subject of many an explainer this offseason. There's a reason for that: it's about as complicated a process as a four-team pool could ever possibly have.
The absolute basics are that 13 Extremely Important Types will rank teams every week, beginning in October, with the top four in the country at the end of the season going to the tournament. The No. 1 seed will go to its closest of the two available bowl semifinal sites -- this year, the Rose and Sugar.
But there's obviously a lot more to it. Here, via the Playoff itself and without critique at this time [ :) ], is the official description of how this all works.
This also includes each committee member's recusals, or the schools each member can't weigh in on. Interesting to note there's only one school per member (and that some members don't appear to have any), meaning for example that Alabama fan and Notre Dame master's grad Condoleezza Rice can apparently participate in rankings of those teams. A recusal process might or might not be necessary or helpful, but it is curiously implemented.
1. Mission. The committee's task will be to select the best teams, rank the teams for inclusion in the playoff and selected other bowl games and, then assign the teams to sites.
2. Principles. The committee will select the teams using a process that distinguishes among otherwise comparable teams by considering:
* Conference championships won,
* Strength of schedule,
* Head-to-head competition,
* Comparative outcomes of common opponents (without incenting margin of victory), and,
* Other relevant factors such as key injuries that may have affected a team's performance during the season or likely will affect its postseason performance.
3. Voting Process. The voting process generally will include seven rounds of ballots through which the committee members first will select a small pool of teams to be evaluated, then will rank those teams, with the top-ranked teams being placed in the rankings in groups of three or four. Individual ballots will be compiled into a composite ranking. Each committee member will independently evaluate an immense amount of information during the process. This evaluation will lead to individual qualitative and quantitative opinions that will inform each member's votes.
4. Number of Teams to Be Ranked. The committee will rank 25 teams. If no champion of a non-contract conference is among that group, then the committee will conduct an additional process to identify the top-ranked champion of those conference champions.
5. Meeting Schedule. The committee will meet in person weekly beginning at mid-season to produce interim rankings before selection weekend.
The dates in the fall of 2014 will be as follows:
Monday and Tuesday, October 27-28
Monday and Tuesday, November 3-4
Monday and Tuesday, November 10-11
Monday and Tuesday, November 17-18
Monday and Tuesday, November 24-25
Monday and Tuesday, December 1-2
Friday-Sunday, December 5-7
6. Point Persons for Gathering Information. Committee members will be assigned to gather information about the teams in each conference and about the independent institutions, to ensure that the committee has complete, detailed information about every team.
7. Metrics. There will not be one single metric to assist the committee. Rather, the committee will consider a wide variety of data and information.
8. Participants. There shall be no limit on the number of teams that may participate from one conference in the playoff semifinals and the associated bowl games.
9. Pairings for Semifinals.
A. The team ranked No. 1 by the selection committee will play team No. 4 in the semifinals. Team No. 2 will meet team No. 3.
B. When assigning teams to sites, the committee will place the top two seeds at the most advantageous sites, weighing criteria such as convenience of travel for its fans, home-crowd advantage or disadvantage and general familiarity with the host city and its stadium. Preference will go to the No. 1 seed.
10. Pairings for Selected Other Bowl Games.
A. All displaced conference champions and the highest ranked champion from a non-contract conference, as ranked by the committee, will participate in selected other bowl games and will be assigned to those games by the committee. If berths in the selected other bowl games remain available after those teams have been identified, the highest ranked other teams, as ranked by the committee, will fill those berths in rank order.
(Note: A "displaced conference champion" is a champion of a contract conference that does not qualify for the playoff in a year when its contract bowl hosts a semifinal game.)
B. The committee shall create the best matchups in these bowl games in light of the following considerations. None of these considerations shall affect the ranking of teams. Also, none of these considerations will be controlling in determining the assignment of teams to available bowl games.
* The committee will use geography as a consideration in the pairing of teams and assigning them to available bowl games.
* The committee will attempt to avoid regular-season rematches when assigning teams to bowls
* To benefit fans and student-athletes, the committee will attempt to avoid assigning a team, or conference, or the highest-ranked champion of a non-contract conference, to the same bowl game repeatedly.
* The committee will consider regular-season head-to-head results when assigning teams to bowls.
* The committee will consider conference championships when assigning teams to bowls.
11. Selection Sequence.
* Teams will be placed in the playoff.
* Contract bowls will be filled in accordance with their contracts.
* Remainder of the Cotton, Fiesta and Peach Bowl berths will be filled.
12. Recusal Policy.
If a committee member or an immediate family member, e.g., spouse, sibling or child, (a) is compensated by a school, (b) provides professional services for a school, or (c) is on the coaching staff or administrative staff at a school or is a football student-athlete at a school, that member will be recused. Such compensation shall include not only direct employment, but also current paid consulting arrangements, deferred compensation (e.g., contract payments continuing after employment has ended) or other benefits.
The committee will have the option to add other recusals if special circumstances arise.
A recused member shall not participate in any votes involving the team from which the individual is recused.
A recused member is permitted to answer only factual questions about the institution from which the member is recused, but shall not be present during any deliberations regarding that team's selection or seeding.
Recused members shall not participate in discussions regarding the placement of the reduced team into a bowl game.
Following are the recusals for 2014-15:
Air Force - Mike Gould
Arkansas - Jeff Long
Clemson - Dan Radakovich
Mississippi - Archie Manning
Nebraska - Tom Osborne
Southern California - Pat Haden
Stanford - Condoleezza Rice
West Virginia - Oliver Luck
Wisconsin - Barry Alvarez
13. Terms. Generally, the members shall serve three-year terms. Until the rotation has been achieved, certain terms may be shorter or longer. Terms shall be staggered to allow for an eventual rotation of members. Members will not be eligible for re-appointment.
Terms Expire February 2016
Terms Expire February 2017
Terms Expire February 2018
14. Committee Chair. The Management Committee selected the first chair of the committee. The selection committee members will select future chairs.