2014 Playoff System
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 of the oldest ten bowl games — the Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, and Chick-fil-A 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.
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, similar 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 (and I believe to be highly debatable), a proposal which became popular in 2011 as a replacement for the BCS.
Here is a video interview/discussion compiled by College Football Universe:
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. That’s 50 million per team (12 teams) per year for 12 years average.
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 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 Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, or Chick-fil-A Bowl, 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.
College Football Championship Game
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 submitted bids for the 2016 game: Glendale, AZ (University of Phoenix Stadium), Jacksonville, FL (EverBank Field), New Orleans, LA (Mercedes-Benz Superdome), and Tampa, FL (Raymond James Stadium); and six metropolitan areas vied 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 was announced on December 16, 2013 with Glendale (University of Phoenix Stadium) being awarded 2016 title game and Tampa, FL winning the bid for the 2017 finals.
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