CFP pulls back curtain, reveals how playoff process will work (VIDEO)

With the first season under the College Football Playoff era set to kick off in less than two weeks, most fans are well-versed on the basic workings of the playoff system, including the big-name selection committee which will determine the teams that make up the playoff field.

But exactly how the committee comes to decide on college football’s Final Four . . . that’s a bit more detailed. On Thursday, the selection committee released the "College Football Playoff Selection Committee Protocol" following its final preseason meeting.

From voting procedures and recusals to factors the committee considers and naming the committee chair, here are the details college football fans will want to know come late October:

Key dates

• The top 25 teams will be ranked weekly, beginning on Oct. 28

• There will be seven weekly rankings released, the final rankings released on Dec. 7 (Selection Sunday)


What the committee considers

• Win-loss record

• Strength of schedule

• Conference championship games

• Head-to-head results

• Common opponents

• Other statistical data provided by SportSource Analytics

• "Other relevant factors" — would include injuries and their potential impact in a playoff game

The CFP website includes this note:

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.

How the teams are selected

1) At each meeting, each member will provide a list of their top 25 teams, in no particular order. Teams on three or more members’ lists will advance to the first round of voting

2) Each member will list their top six teams, in no particular order. The six teams receiving the most votes will advance

3) Each member will rank the six remaining teams, 1 through 6, with 1 being best. The top three vote-getters will be seeds 1-3. The three remaining teams are held over for the next vote

4) Each member will rank the best six remaining teams, in no particular order. The three teams receiving the most votes will be added to the three teams held over from Step 3 to comprise the next seeding ballot


5) Steps 3 and 4 are repeated until a top 25 is seeded.

Who goes where?

• The committee will assign the final four teams to compete in the College Football Playoff semifinals

• The committee will also assign the teams to play in the Cotton, Fiesta and Peach Bowls when those bowls are not hosting semifinals

• Six bowl games will serve as semifinal sites, rotating on a three-year cycle, with the bowls broken up into three pairs: Rose/Sugar, Orange/Cotton, Fiesta/Peach

• When not part of the semifinal rotation, the Rose, Sugar and Orange Bowls will be filled by teams based on previous contracts between conferences and the bowls


Some committee members have been recused from voting if they "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."

A recused member will not be allowed to take part in any vote involving the team from which they are recused, though that member is allowed to answer any factual questions about the affected institution before leaving the room during deliberations regarding the institution’s selection or seeding.

The following committee members are recused for the following institutions:

• 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

Committee chair: Jeff Long, Arkansas

Other notables

• There will be no limit on the number of teams a single conference can have in the semifinals or other bowl games in the CFP rotation

• The No. 1 team in the final rankings will face the No. 4 team in one semifinal; Nos. 2 and 3 will play in the other

• The committee will give the two highest-seeded teams preference in location of the semifinals:

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.

For the committee’s full College Football Playoff Selection Committee Protocol release, click here.

H/t: USA Today