We now know the criteria that members of the selection committee for the College Football Playoff will look at when selecting the teams for the four-team playoff to begin this season.
The CFP released the protocol for the committee on Thursday and said the committee will look at these factors when ranking teams:
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)
• 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.
Of course, those factors can be open to interpretation. One committee member may not value a conference championship as much as another. One may really like strength of schedule. Another may not. And the last bullet point drives home the point that the committee may choose the teams that are the "best" rather than the "most deserving" as Arkansas athletic director and CFB committee chairman Jeff Long said this spring.
The committee will meet weekly on Mondays and Tuesdays starting the last week of October into the first week of December. The final meeting will be Friday-Sunday on Dec. 5-7. The four teams in the Playoff will be announced on that Sunday.
When assigning teams to the two semifinal sites, preference will be given to the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds based off of location, travel and other factors. When selecting the teams to play in the other College Football Playoff bowl games that are not part of a given year's rotation, the following protocol will be used:
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.)
Much like with the four Playoff teams, the other non-rotational CFB Playoff bowl games (this year it's the Cotton, Fiesta and Peach) will be filled by the committee based on factors like head-to-head record, rematch avoidance and geography.
Since many of the committee's members are affiliated with schools that could be eligible for the College Football Playoff, members with an affiliation will be recused from discussions surrounding their teams. Nine of the committee members have recusal affiliations including former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who will be recused regarding all discussions of Stanford.
The term limits for committee members were also set. Committee members will leave the panel at various times following the 2016, 2017 and 2018 postseason to ensure that the majority of the committee doesn't leave at once.
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