College Football Playoff
|College Football Playoff|
|In operation||beginning in 2014|
|Preceded by||BCS (1998–2013)
Bowl Alliance (1995–97)
Bowl Coalition (1992–94)
|Number of playoff games||3 per season|
|Television partner(s)||ESPN (2014–2025)|
|Executive director||Bill Hancock|
The College Football Playoff (CFP) is the system in American college football that will determine a national champion for the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), beginning in the 2014 season. Under the playoff, four teams will play in two semifinal games, with the winners advancing to the new College Football Championship Game. Six bowl games — the Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, and Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl — will rotate as hosts for the semifinal games. The rotation is set on a three-year cycle with the following pairings: Rose and Sugar, then Orange and Cotton, and then Fiesta and Chick-fil-A Peach. The semifinals, plus the other four top-tier bowls not hosting semifinals, will be marketed as the "New Year's Six", with three bowls played daily, typically on consecutive days around New Year's Day.
The championship game will be played on the first Monday that is six or more days after the semifinals. The game's venue will be selected based on bids submitted by cities, similarly to the Super Bowl or Final Four, with AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas hosting the first title game on January 12, 2015. The winner will be awarded a new trophy instead of the AFCA "crystal football", which has been given to the coaching group's national champion selection since 1986; officials wanted a new trophy that was unconnected with the previous championship system.
Unlike college football's current title system, the Bowl Championship Series, the new format will not use computer rankings or polls in the selection of its 12 participating teams. Rather, a committee of 13 people will select and seed the teams. The playoff system will be the first to determine the top-level NCAA football championship by a bracket competition. The new format is known as a Plus-One system, a proposal which became popular in 2011 as a replacement for the BCS.
The playoff system will be in place through at least the 2025 season per a contract with ESPN, which owns the rights to broadcast all games. The network reportedly paid $7.3 billion overall for the 12-year TV rights.
This is a table of all the bowl games and venues that will host the College Football Playoff semifinals and championship games.
|Year||Semifinal game||Semifinal game||Semifinals date||Title game venue||Championship date|
(New Orleans, LA)
|January 1, 2015||AT&T Stadium
|January 12, 2015|
(Miami Gardens, FL)
|December 31, 2015||TBA
|January 11, 2016|
|December 31, 2016||TBA
|January 9, 2017|
|2017–18||Rose Bowl||Sugar Bowl||January 1, 2018||TBA
|January 8, 2018|
|2018–19||Orange Bowl||Cotton Bowl||December 31, 2018||TBA
|January 7, 2019|
|2019–20||Fiesta Bowl||Chick-fil-A Bowl||December 31, 2019||TBA
|January 13, 2020|
|2020–21||Rose Bowl||Sugar Bowl||January 1, 2021||TBA
|January 11, 2021|
|2021–22||Orange Bowl||Cotton Bowl||December 31, 2021||TBA
|January 10, 2022|
|2022–23||Fiesta Bowl||Chick-fil-A Bowl||December 31, 2022||TBA
|January 9, 2023|
|2023–24||Rose Bowl||Sugar Bowl||January 1, 2024||TBA
|January 8, 2024|
|2024–25||Orange Bowl||Cotton Bowl||December 31, 2024||TBA
|January 13, 2025|
|2025–26||Fiesta Bowl||Chick-fil-A Bowl||December 31, 2025||TBA
|January 12, 2026|
The initial College Football Playoff selection committee was announced on October 16, 2013. The group consists of 13 members who will generally serve three-year terms, although some initial selections will serve terms both shorter and longer than three years "to achieve a rotation" of members.
The inaugural members of the selection committee are:
|Member||Position||Conference Affiliation||Terms expire|
|Jeff Long (chairman)||Arkansas athletic director||SEC||February 2018|
|Barry Alvarez||Wisconsin athletic director||Big Ten||February 2017|
|Lt. Gen. Michael Gould||Former Air Force Academy superintendent||N/A||February 2016|
|Pat Haden||USC athletic director||Pac-12||February 2016|
|Tom Jernstedt||Former NCAA executive vice president||N/A||February 2018|
|Oliver Luck||West Virginia athletic director||Big 12||February 2017|
|Archie Manning||Former NFL and Ole Miss quarterback||N/A||February 2017|
|Tom Osborne||Former Nebraska coach and athletic director||Big 12||February 2016|
|Dan Radakovich||Clemson athletic director||ACC||February 2018|
|Condoleezza Rice||Former U.S. Secretary of State and Stanford provost||N/A||February 2017|
|Mike Tranghese||Former Big East commissioner||Big East||February 2016|
|Steve Wieberg||Former USA Today reporter||N/A||February 2018|
|Tyrone Willingham||Former Stanford/Notre Dame/Washington coach||Pac-12, Independent||February 2018|
The selections include one current athletic director from each of the five so-called "power" conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC). Others selected are former coaches, players, athletic directors, and administrators, which also includes a retired member of the media, Steve Wieberg. The goal was for the panel to consist proportionally of current athletic directors, former coaches, and a third group of other voters, excluding current conference commissioners, coaches, and media members. During the selection process, organizers said they wanted the committee to be geographically balanced. Conference commissioners submitted lists totaling more than 100 names from which to select the final committee members.
The committee will pick four teams for the playoff and seed them, plus select the pairings in the other four bowl games. The committee will reportedly meet in person three to five times during the season (and up to 10 times a year), releasing updated rankings after each meeting. It likely will not release weekly standings, as the BCS does. Committee members will not make their ballots public, and the committee's voting method will use multiple ballots, similar to the NCAA basketball tournament selection process. A current athletic director would leave the room during discussion of his team, and would be prevented from voting for it; such an AD would, however, remain in the room while teams from the same conference were being discussed. Among the factors that the committee will weigh are strength of schedule, conference championships, team records, and head-to-head results, plus other considerations such as injuries and weather. Unlike the current BCS system, computer rankings and the Harris poll will not be used to make the selections. The AP Poll and Coaches' Poll will also not be used.
The four-team bracket will pit the No. 1-ranked team against No. 4 and No. 2 vs. No. 3. The selection committee will seed the two semifinal games to prevent the top two seeds from playing in a "road" environment. There will be no limits on the number of teams per conference, in a change from previous BCS rules. Bowl selections will not be determined by conference "automatic qualifier" berths, as used in the BCS, though there will be conference tie-ins for certain non-semifinal bowl games along with an annual guaranteed spot for a mid-major representative.
In years when the bowls are not part of the playoff bracket, the highest-ranked non-playoff teams from the following conferences or groups will be selected as follows:
- Rose Bowl — Big Ten #1 vs. Pac-12 #1
- Sugar Bowl — SEC #1 vs. Big 12 #1
- Orange Bowl — ACC #1 vs. SEC #2, Big Ten #2, or Notre Dame
- Cotton Bowl — at-large or "Group of Five"
- Fiesta Bowl — at-large or "Group of Five"
- Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl — at-large or "Group of Five"
- Additional selection criteria
- The highest-ranked champion from the so-called "Group of Five" mid-major conferences (American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt) is guaranteed a berth if the group's top team is not in the playoff.
- The remaining five at-large bids will be determined by committee rankings.
- If the Big Ten or SEC champion is available for a non-playoff bowl in a year when the Rose and Sugar Bowls are hosting semifinals, that team will appear in either the Cotton, Fiesta, or Chick-fil-A Peach bowls, but not the Orange Bowl.
- In the Orange Bowl, the SEC and Big Ten are guaranteed at least three appearances during the eight non-playoff years, while Notre Dame can only appear a maximum of twice.
- In non-playoff years, if the Orange Bowl matchup creates a regular-season rematch for the ACC representative, the bowl may choose to "skip over" the prescribed opponent from the SEC/Big Ten/Notre Dame group and select the next highest-ranked team from the group. The team that was rejected would be placed in one of the three at-large bowls, if it meets ranking standards.
Cities around the country submit hosting bids for each year's championship game and the playoff group's leaders make a hosting selection from those bids, in a similar fashion to other large sporting events, such as the Super Bowl or Final Four. Leaders say the championship game will be held in a different city each year, and that bids must propose host stadiums with a capacity of at least 65,000 spectators. Under the system, cities cannot host both a semifinal game and the title game in the same year. AT&T Stadium, an NFL stadium in Arlington, Texas, was chosen to host the first game in January 2015.
Four cities have submitted bids for the 2016 game: Glendale (University of Phoenix Stadium), Jacksonville (EverBank Field), New Orleans (Mercedes-Benz Superdome), and Tampa (Raymond James Stadium); and six metropolitan areas are vying for the 2017 game: the San Francisco Bay Area (Levi's Stadium), Minneapolis (Vikings Stadium), San Antonio (Alamodome), Miami (Sun Life Stadium), Jacksonville, and Tampa. Host selections for the 2016 and 2017 games won't be announced until at least mid-December 2013. 
In 2012, ESPN reportedly paid about $7.3 billion over 12 years for broadcasting rights to all seven games, an average of about $608 million per year. That includes $215 million per year which was already committed to the Rose, Sugar and Orange bowls, plus $470–475 million annually for the rest of the playoff package. (By comparison, the most recent contract with the BCS had paid almost $2 billion over four years — $495 million per year for five games.)
In dividing the revenue, more money will be paid out to the conferences whose teams qualify for the semifinals or the other four bowl games. Reports say the money will be divided based on several criteria such as "on-field success, teams' expenses, marketplace factors and academic performance of student-athletes." Teams that fall below a certain Academic Progress Rate threshold will be penalized, receiving less revenue.
In non-semifinal years, the Rose Bowl's TV revenue will be split between the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences; likewise, the Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl revenue will be divided between its participant conferences. When those bowls are semifinal games, the money will be distributed by the playoff system to all FBS conferences. ESPN has paid about $80 million a year each for the Rose and Sugar bowls over 12 years. The Orange Bowl deal is worth $55 million per year.
As part of their playoff contracts, the six bowl sites cannot hold any other postseason college football games at their stadiums.
Previous BCS commissioner Bill Hancock is the executive director of the playoff organization, with former ACC Senior Associate Commissioner Michael Kelly as COO. Like the BCS, the playoff system's management committee consists of the conference commissioners from the 10 FBS conferences and Notre Dame's athletic director. The playoff system's headquarters is in Irving, Texas.
- College football playoff debate
- Plus-One system
- Bowl Championship Series
- College football national championships in NCAA Division I FBS
- Mythical National Championship
- List of college bowl games
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