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College Football Playoff: How To Select The Four Best Teams

College Football Playoff: How To Select The Four Best Teams


So, you want to know how the College Football Playoff process works? You want your questions answered? Here you go with how the College Football Playoff is supposed to select the four best teams.


Taken straight from the College Football Playoff, below is the protocol and its guidelines for how to pick the four best teams.

Bowl & College Football Playoff Selection Rules & Breakdown

College Football Playoff Guidelines 
CFP Protocol: How it all works
– The CFP voting process

Ranking football teams is an art, not a science. Football is popular in some measure because the outcome of a game between reasonably matched teams is so often decided by emotional commitment, momentum, injuries and the “unexpected bounce of the ball.” In any ranking system, perfection or consensus is not possible and the physical impact of the game on student athletes prevents elaborate playoff systems of multiple games. For purposes of any four team playoff, the process will inevitably need to select the four best teams from among several with legitimate claims to participate.

Proposed Selection Process:

Establish a committee that will be instructed to place an emphasis on winning conference championships, strength of schedule and head-to-head competition when comparing teams with similar records and pedigree (treat final determination like a tie-breaker; apply specific guidelines).

The criteria to be provided to the selection committee must be aligned with the ideals of the commissioners, Presidents, athletic directors and coaches to honor regular season success while at the same time providing enough flexibility and discretion to select a non-champion or independent under circumstances where that particular non-champion or independent is unequivocally one of the four best teams in the country.

When circumstances at the margins indicate that teams are comparable, then the following criteria must be considered:
– Championships won
– Strength of schedule
– Head-to-head competition (if it occurred)
– Comparative outcomes of common opponents (without incenting margin of victory)

We believe that a committee of experts properly instructed (based on beliefs that the regular season is unique and must be preserved; and that championships won on the field and strength of schedule are important values that must be incorporated into the selection process) has very strong support throughout the college football community.

Under the current construct, polls (although well-intended) have not expressed these values; particularly at the margins where teams that have won head-to-head competition and championships are sometimes ranked behind non-champions and teams that have lost in head-to-head competition. Nuanced mathematical formulas ignore some teams who “deserve” to be selected.

As we expand from two teams to four teams we want to establish a human selection committee that: (1) will be provided a clear set of guidelines; (2) will be expected to take the facts of each case and specifically apply the guidelines; and (3) will be led by a Chairperson who will be expected to explain publicly the committee’s decisions.

Some of the guidelines and protocols expected to be established to guide the committee would include, but not be limited to, the following:

– While it is understood that committee members will take into consideration all kinds of data including polls, committee members will be required to discredit polls wherein initial rankings are established before competition has occurred;
– Any polls that are taken into consideration by the selection committee must be completely open and transparent to the public;
– Strength of schedule, head-to-head competition and championships won must be specifically applied as tie-breakers between teams that look similar;
– Committee members associated with any team under consideration during the selection process will be required to recuse themselves from any deliberations associated with that team;

We would expect this same set of principles to be applied, particularly at the margins (teams 10-11-12).

College Football Playoff Guidelines 
CFP Protocol: How it all works
– The CFP voting process