College Football Playoff
|College Football Playoff|
Bowl Alliance (1995–1997)
Bowl Coalition (1992–1994)
|Number of playoff games||3 (championship game, 2 semifinal games)|
|Championship trophy||College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy|
|Television partner(s)||ESPN (2014–present)|
|Most playoff appearances||Alabama (3)|
|Most playoff wins||Alabama (2), Ohio State (2)|
|Most playoff championships||Alabama (1), Ohio State (1)|
|Conference with most appearances||ACC (3), Big Ten (3), SEC (3)|
|Conference with most game wins||Big Ten (2) SEC (2)|
|Conference with most championships||Big Ten (1) SEC (1)|
|Last championship game||2016 College Football Playoff National Championship|
|Executive director||Bill Hancock|
The College Football Playoff (CFP) is an annual postseason tournament in American college football for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)'s Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). It began with the 2014 NCAA Division I FBS football season. Four teams play in two semifinal games, and the winners advance to the College Football Playoff National Championship.
The CFP is the first time the top-level NCAA football championship has been determined by a bracket competition. A 13-member committee selects and seeds the four teams to take part. This differs from the use of polls or computer rankings to select the participants for the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), FBS college football's title system from 1998 to 2013. The new format is a Plus-One system, an idea which became popular as an alternative to the BCS after the 2003 and 2004 seasons ended in controversy.
The two semifinal games rotate among six major bowl games, sometimes referred to as the New Year's Six: the Rose, Sugar, Orange, Cotton, Fiesta, and Peach. The semifinals are scheduled mainly for the final Saturday or Friday of the year, or on New Year's Day. The championship is played on the first Monday that is six or more days after the semifinals. The championship game's venue is selected based on bids submitted by cities, similar to the Super Bowl or NCAA Final Four. The winner is awarded the College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy. Playoff officials commissioned a new trophy that was unconnected with the previous championship systems (such as the AFCA "crystal football" trophy which had been regularly presented after the championship game since the 1990s).
The College Football Playoff is not an officially sanctioned championship event by the NCAA, the sport's governing body. Because of this, Division I FBS football is the only NCAA sport in which a yearly champion is not determined by an NCAA championship event and an official NCAA National Championship is not given.
In addition to the four teams selected for the playoff, the final CFP rankings are used to help determine the participants for the other four major bowls that are not hosting the semifinals that year.
The first College Football Playoff selection committee was announced on October 16, 2013. The group consists of 13 members who generally serve three-year terms, although some initial selections served terms both shorter and longer than three years "to achieve a rotation" of members.
|Member||Position||Conference affiliation||Term expires|
|Hocutt, KirbyKirby Hocutt (chairman)||Texas Tech athletic director; former Kansas State linebacker||Big 12||February 2017|
|Alvarez, BarryBarry Alvarez||Wisconsin athletic director; former Wisconsin coach||Big Ten||February 2017|
|Bower, JeffJeff Bower||former Southern Miss head coach||N/A||February 2019|
|Deromedi, HerbHerb Deromedi||former Central Michigan head coach||N/A||February 2019|
|Jernstedt, TomTom Jernstedt||Former NCAA executive vice president||N/A||February 2018|
|Johnson, BobbyBobby Johnson||Former Vanderbilt head coach||N/A||February 2017|
|Long, JeffJeff Long||Arkansas athletic director||SEC||February 2018|
|Mullens, RobRob Mullens||Oregon athletic director||Pac-12||February 2019|
|Radakovich, DanDan Radakovich||Clemson athletic director||ACC||February 2018|
|Rice, CondoleezzaCondoleezza Rice||Former U.S. Secretary of State and Stanford provost||N/A||February 2017|
|Wieberg, SteveSteve Wieberg||Former USA Today reporter||N/A||February 2018|
|Willingham, TyroneTyrone Willingham||Former Stanford / Notre Dame / Washington head coach||N/A||February 2018|
The committee members include one current athletic director from each of the five "major" conferences—ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC—also known as the Power Five conferences. Other members are former coaches, players, athletic directors, and administrators, plus a retired member of the media. The goal was for the panel to consist proportionally of current "Power Five" 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 selection of Condoleezza Rice, a former U.S. Secretary of State and Stanford University provost, was met with some backlash within the sport and the media. Critics questioned her qualifications, citing gender and lack of football experience.
|Member||Position||Conference affiliation||Season(s)||Replaced by|
|Gould, Michael C.Michael C. Gould||Former Air Force Academy superintendent||N/A||2014-15||Jeff Bower|
|Osborne, TomTom Osborne||Former Nebraska coach and athletic director||Big Ten/Big 12||2014-15||Lloyd Carr|
|Tranghese, MikeMike Tranghese||Former Big East commissioner||The American||2014-15||Herb Deromedi|
|Haden, PatPat Haden||USC athletic director; former USC quarterback||Pac-12||2014||Rob Mullens|
|Luck, OliverOliver Luck||Former West Virginia athletic director||Big 12||2014||Kirby Hocutt|
|Manning, ArchieArchie Manning||Former NFL and Ole Miss quarterback||N/A||-||Bobby Johnson|
|Carr, LloydLloyd Carr||Former Michigan coach||Big Ten||-||-|
- Current or former, athletic department administration only.
- Stepped down October 30, 2015 citing health reasons and instability at USC. Did not participate in 2015 season committee.
- Left the committee in 2015, before his term expired, after resigning as West Virginia athletic director to work for the NCAA as executive vice president of regulatory affairs.
- Took a leave of absence for health reasons in October 2014 and stepped down in March 2015. Never participated in any committee voting.
- Left the committee in 2016 before the season started for health reasons. Committee stayed at 12 members rather than replacing him.
The committee releases its top 25 rankings weekly on Tuesdays in the second half of the regular season. The top four teams are seeded in that order for the playoff. During the 2014 season, the committee met and released rankings seven times, though it is slated to meet only six times in 2015 due to the season calendar being a week shorter. The group, which meets at the Gaylord Texan hotel in Grapevine, Texas, reportedly meets in person up to 10 total times a year.
A team's strength of schedule is one of the most pertinent considerations for the committee in making its selections. Other factors that the committee weighs are conference championships, team records, and head-to-head results, plus other points such as injuries and weather. Unlike the BCS system, the AP Poll, Coaches' Poll, and the Harris Poll, computer rankings are not used to make the selections. Advanced statistics and metrics are expected to be submitted to the committee, though like other analytics, they have no formal role in the decision. Committee members are not required to attend games.
Long said the panel considered less frequent rankings, but ultimately decided on a weekly release. "That's what the fans have become accustomed to, and we felt it would leave a void in college football without a ranking for several weeks," he said. Long also noted: "Early on there was some talk that we would go into a room at the end of the season and come out with a top four, but that didn't last long." In analyzing this change in thinking, Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated commented: "The whole point of the selection committee was to replace the simplistic horse-race nature of Top 25 polls — where teams only move up if someone above them loses — with a more deliberative evaluation method. Now the playoff folks are going to try to do both." Addressing the "pecking order" nature of traditional polls, George Schrodeder of USA Today wrote that "if it actually works as intended, we could see volatile swings" from week to week, with lower-ranked teams moving ahead of higher-ranked teams without either team losing (a rarity in traditional polls). Both Long and Bill Hancock, the CFP executive director, say they expect that to happen.
The committee's voting method uses multiple ballots, similar to the NCAA basketball tournament selection process. From a large initial pool of teams, the group takes numerous votes on successive tiers of teams, considering six at a time and coming to a consensus on how they should be ranked, then repeating the process with the next tier of teams. Discussion and debate happens at each voting step. All votes are by secret ballot, and committee members do not make their ballots public. Each week's ranking process begins anew, with no weight given to the previous week's selections.
Committee members who are currently employed or financially compensated by a school, or have family members who have a current financial relationship (which includes football players), are not allowed to vote for that school. During deliberations about a team's selection, members with such a conflict of interest cannot be present, but can answer factual questions about the institution. All committee members have past ties to certain NCAA institutions, but the committee decided to ignore those ties in the recusal requirements. "We just boiled it down to where we felt this group was fit to its high integrity and would differentiate from those past relationships," Long said. Some football writers, like Dodd and Mark Schlabach, have said the recusal arrangement isn't transparent or objective, suggesting that members' alma maters and former coaching jobs should be considered disqualifying conflicts of interest.
Non-playoff bowl selection criteria
In the two out of three years when a given New Year's Six bowl is not part of the playoff bracket, the highest-ranked non-playoff teams from the following conferences or groups are 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" (committee selection)
- Fiesta Bowl — at-large or "Group of Five" (committee selection)
- Peach Bowl — at-large or "Group of Five" (committee selection)
- The highest-ranked champion from the "Group of Five" conferences (The American, C-USA, Mid-American, 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 are 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 appears in either the Cotton Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, or Peach 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.
- In years when the Orange Bowl is a national semifinal, the ACC champion plays in the Fiesta or Peach Bowls if it is not selected for the playoff.
- In choosing the pairings for the four non-playoff bowls, the committee tries to create "the most compelling matchups possible", while taking into account geography and team rematches from both the regular season and recent bowls.
Impact on scheduling
Due to the increased emphasis on strength of schedule, teams have considered playing more challenging opponents during the non-conference portion of their schedules. Some teams have traditionally played three or four "weak" non-conference opponents, but wins against such low-level competition are unlikely to impress the committee. For teams on the cusp of making the playoff four, "I think one of the first things the committee will look at is strength of schedule," said selector Oliver Luck.
Teams in the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 play nine conference games on their 12-game schedules, and so only have flexibility in choosing their opponents in the three non-league games. Some programs are opting to increase their schedule strength by scheduling high-profile matchups at neutral sites and on weeknights, garnering primetime TV exclusivity.
In response to the new playoff system, the Southeastern Conference considered increasing its conference schedule from eight to nine games, with Alabama coach Nick Saban a vocal proponent. According to Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News, "The prevailing opinion among SEC athletics directors: The SEC is difficult enough that there's no need for a ninth game." Some in the conference, like Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin, opined that a nine-game SEC schedule would result in more teams with two losses. Commissioner Mike Slive and Vanderbilt AD David Williams, among others, supported a stronger out-of-league schedule, which would likely impress the committee. In April 2014, the league voted to mandate that all SEC teams must play a Power Five foe (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, or independent Notre Dame) in its non-conference slate beginning in 2016. Slive noted this rule "gives us the added strength-of-schedule we were seeking". In 2014, the first year of the College Football Playoff, one team played two opponents from the Power Five, nine of the 14 teams played one Power Five conference opponent and three lower-level opponents (including one FCS school), and four teams did not face a Power Five foe. In the spring of 2015, the SEC decided to count games played against Independents BYU and Army toward its Power Five requirement.
The ACC, whose teams also play eight conference games (plus Notre Dame at least once every three years), also considered moving to a nine-game conference schedule. However, the league opted to stay with the eight-plus-Notre Dame model, stipulating instead that teams would have to play one Power Five school in their non-league slates beginning in 2017, which would include the Notre Dame game or other ACC schools, as will games against another FBS independent, BYU. Despite the push to increase schedule strength, some ACC coaches preferred the scheduling flexibility available with fewer permanent fixtures on a team's slate. Opinion was split among league athletic directors on moving to a nine-game schedule prior to the vote. An SEC expansion to a nine-game schedule would limit the ACC's opportunities to play Power Five non-conference opponents.
The College Football Playoff uses a four-team bracket to determine the national champion. Six of the traditional bowl games—the Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, and Peach Bowl — rotate as hosts for the semifinals. The rotation is set on a three-year cycle with the following pairings: Rose/Sugar, Orange/Cotton, and Fiesta/Peach. The two semifinal bowls and the other four top-tier bowls are marketed as the "New Year's Six", with three bowls played per day, typically on consecutive days that include New Year's Day. The selection committee seeds and pairs the top four teams, plus assigns teams to the at-large bowls (Cotton, Fiesta, and Peach) in years when they do not host semifinals.
The four-team format pits the No. 1-ranked team against No. 4 and No. 2 vs. No. 3. The selection committee seeds the two semifinal games, placing the top-seeded team at the closest site to prevent it from playing in a "road" environment. There are no limits on the number of teams per conference, a change from previous BCS rules. However, some non-semifinal bowl selections are based on conference tie-ins, similarly to the BCS's automatic qualifier berths. A team from one of the "Group of Five" conferences is guaranteed a spot in one of the six bowls.
Cities around the country bid to host each year's championship game and the playoff group's leaders make a selection from those proposals, in a similar fashion to other large sporting events, such as the Super Bowl or NCAA Final Four. Officials 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.
|2014||4 Ohio State||2 Oregon||42–20||AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas|
|2015||2 Alabama||1 Clemson||45–40||University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona|
|2016||Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida|
|2017||Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia|
|2018||Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California|
|2019||Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana|
Playoff appearances by team
|3||Alabama||2||1||.667|| Lost 2015 Sugar Bowl (January 2015)|
Won 2015 Cotton Bowl (December 2015)
Won 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship
Will play in 2016 Peach Bowl
|2||Ohio State||2||0||1.000|| Won 2015 Sugar Bowl|
Won 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship
Will play in 2016 Fiesta Bowl (December 2016)
|2||Clemson||1||1||.500|| Won 2015 Orange Bowl|
Lost 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship
Will play in 2016 Fiesta Bowl (December 2016)
|1||Oregon||1||1||.500|| Won 2015 Rose Bowl|
Lost 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship
|1||Florida State||0||1||.000||Lost 2015 Rose Bowl|
|1||Michigan State||0||1||.000||Lost 2015 Cotton Bowl|
|1||Oklahoma||0||1||.000||Lost 2015 Orange Bowl|
|1||Washington||0||0||–||Will play in 2016 Peach Bowl|
Playoff appearances by conference
|Big Ten||3||2||1||.667||2|| Ohio State (2–0)|
Michigan State (0–1)
|ACC||3||1||2||.333||2|| Clemson (1–1)|
Florida State (0–1)
|Pac-12||2||1||1||.500||2|| Oregon (1–1)|
|Big 12||1||0||1||.000||1||Oklahoma (0-1)|
Non-playoff New Year's Six Bowl appearances by team
|2||Ole Miss||1||1||.500|| Lost 2014 Peach Bowl|
Won 2016 Sugar Bowl
|1||Boise State||1||0||1.000||Won 2014 Fiesta Bowl|
|1||Georgia Tech||1||0||1.000||Won 2014 Orange Bowl|
|1||Houston||1||0||1.000||Won 2015 Peach Bowl|
|1||Ohio State||1||0||1.000||Won 2016 Fiesta Bowl|
|1||Michigan State||1||0||1.000||Won 2015 Cotton Bowl|
|1||Stanford||1||0||1.000||Won 2016 Rose Bowl|
|1||TCU||1||0||1.000||Won 2014 Peach Bowl|
|1||Arizona||0||1||.000||Lost 2014 Fiesta Bowl|
|1||Baylor||0||1||.000||Lost 2015 Cotton Bowl|
|1||Florida State||0||1||.000||Lost 2015 Peach Bowl|
|1||Iowa||0||1||.000||Lost 2016 Rose Bowl|
|1||Mississippi State||0||1||.000||Lost 2014 Orange Bowl|
|1||Notre Dame||0||1||.000||Lost 2016 Fiesta Bowl|
|1||Oklahoma State||0||1||.000||Lost 2016 Sugar Bowl|
Non-playoff New Year's Six Bowl appearances by conference
|Big Ten||6||2||1||.667||6|| Michigan State (1–0)|
Ohio State (1–0)
Penn State (0–0)
|Big 12||4||1||2||.333||4|| TCU (1–0)|
Oklahoma State (0–1)
|SEC||4||1||2||.333||3|| Ole Miss (1–1)|
Mississippi State (0–1)
|ACC||3||1||1||.500||2|| Georgia Tech (1–0)|
Florida State (0–1)
|Pac-12||3||1||1||.500||3|| Stanford (1–0)|
|MW||1||1||0||1.000||1||Boise State (1–0)|
|The American||1||1||0||1.000||1||Houston (1–0)|
|MAC||1||0||0||–||1||Western Michigan (0–0)|
|Independents||1||0||1||.000||1||Notre Dame (0–1)|
The television broadcast rights to all six CFP bowls and the National Championship are owned by ESPN through at least the 2025 season. ESPN then reached 12-year agreements to retain rights to the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, and Sugar Bowl following the dissolution of the Bowl Championship Series. In November, ESPN reached a 12-year deal to broadcast the remaining three bowls, the championship game, as well as shoulder programming such as ranking shows; as a whole, the contract is valued at around $470 million per-year, or nearly $5.7 billion for the life of the contract.
The inaugural College Football Playoff games in January 2015 generated larger ratings than previous BCS games. The 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship had an 18.9 Nielsen rating and was watched by approximately 33.4 million people, the largest broadcast audience of all time on American cable television (non-broadcast), according to AdWeek. That was a 31 percent audience increase over the previous year's championship game and a 22 percent increase over the BCS title game's best rating on cable (a 16.1 rating in 2011). The semifinal games, the 2015 Rose Bowl and 2015 Sugar Bowl, saw 28.16 million and 28.27 million viewers, respectively. According to ESPN, these games also set (and briefly held) all-time records for cable TV viewership.
In 2015, the ratings for the two semifinal games were down from the prior season's equivalents, with the Orange Bowl reaching a 9.7 rating (in comparison to 15.5 for the 2015 Rose Bowl) and the Cotton Bowl reaching a 9.9 rating (in comparison to a 15.3 rating for the 2015 Sugar Bowl). On the online WatchESPN streaming service, excluding 2014 FIFA World Cup games, the Cotton Bowl and the Orange Bowl drew the second and third-largest streaming audiences in the service's history, behind the 2015 national championship. The ratings drops were attributed to the New Year's Eve time slot, as fewer people were at home to watch the game; The decline in ratings were a factor in changes for the scheduling of future CFP semi-final games.
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 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.
The average revenue to the new system over 12 years is to be about $500 million per year. After $125–150 million in expenses, the Power Five conferences split about 71.5 percent of the remaining money, for an approximate average payout of $250 million a year ($50 million per league) over the life of the contract. The "Group of Five" conferences split 27 percent, about $90 million a year ($18 million per league). Notre Dame receives around one percent, about $3.5-4 million, and other FBS independents get about 0.5 percent of the deal.
Extra revenue goes to conferences in contracts with the Rose, Sugar, and Orange bowls, which split revenue 50/50 between their participating leagues. In non-semifinal years, the Rose Bowl's TV revenue would be divided between the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences; likewise, the Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl revenue to its participant conferences. When those bowls are semifinal games, the money is 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. For example, in a non-semifinal year, the Big Ten could receive about $90 million (half of its $80 million Rose Bowl deal plus about $50 million from the playoff system).
Conferences receive an additional $6 million each year for each team it places in the semifinals and $4 million for a team in one of the three at-large bowls; Notre Dame receives the same amount in either scenario. No additional money is awarded for reaching the championship game.
The Power Five conferences and the "Group of Five" have not decided on their respective revenue-sharing formulas, though the SEC initially receives more revenue than the other four Power Five conferences due to its BCS success. Reports say the money is to be divided based on several criteria such as "on-field success, teams' expenses, marketplace factors and academic performance of student-athletes." The playoff system awards academic performance bonuses of $300,000 per school for meeting the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate standard of 930. In a hypothetical 14-team conference, $4.2 million ($300,000 x 14) would be allocated to that league, and if only 12 of the 14 members meet the APR standard, then each of the 12 schools would receive $350,000 ($4.2 million / 12), penalizing schools that fall below the threshold.
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.
Board of Managers
According to the CFP website, the system's operations are controlled by the Board of Managers, which consists of presidents and chancellors of the playoff group's member universities. The eleven members have sole authority to develop, review and approve annual budgets, policies and operating guidelines. The group also selects the company's officers.
- Rodney Bennett – President, Southern Mississippi (C-USA)
- Anthony Frank – President, Colorado State (Mountain West)
- Burns Hargis – President, Oklahoma State (Big 12)
- Jack Hawkins – Chancellor, Troy (Sun Belt)
- Rev. John I. Jenkins – President, Notre Dame (Independent)
- Mark Keenum – President, Mississippi State (SEC)
- Roderick McDavis – President, Ohio (MAC)
- Max Nikias – President, USC (Pac-12)
- Harvey Perlman (chair) – Chancellor, Nebraska (Big Ten)
- Donna Shalala – President, Miami (Fla.) (ACC)
- Steadman Upham – President, Tulsa (The American)
Athletics Directors Advisory Group
According to the CFP website, the Athletics Directors Advisory Group is appointed by the management committee to "offer counsel" on the operations of the system. As an advisory board, it has no authority in the management of the CFP.
- Gary Barta, Iowa (Big Ten)
- Tom Bowen, Memphis (The American)
- Tom Burman, Wyoming (Mountain West)
- Joe Castiglione, Oklahoma (Big 12)
- Jeremy Foley, Florida (SEC)
- Dan Guerrero, UCLA (Pac-12)
- Chris Massaro, Middle Tennessee State (C-USA)
- Terry Mohajir, Arkansas State (Sun Belt)
- Mike O'Brien, Toledo (MAC)
- Stan Wilcox, Florida State (ACC)
Although being generally well received, the College Football Playoff has been criticized much like its predecessor, the Bowl Championship Series, which had several controversies. Chief among the criticisms was the subjective element of the selection process such as basing rankings on metrics such as strength of schedule and conference as opposed to solely basing rankings on a team's win-loss record.
One particular similarity between the old BCS and the current Playoff system is both have been alleged to be biased toward schools, programs and conferences with large financial endowments (being the perceived favoritism with the SEC the most outstanding argument), hurting the chances of smaller schools with fewer athletic resources. Undefeated teams from less wealthy conferences can be passed over for teams with losses from richer conferences.
Another critique centered around a perceived bias against smaller conferences such as the Big 12 which does not stage a conference championship game. The American addressed this issue by adding Navy to its ranks for 2015, bringing its membership to 12 teams, which allowed it to stage a conference championship game under then-current NCAA rules. Starting with the 2016 season, FBS conferences will be allowed to stage football championship games even if they do not have 12 members.
The qualifications of selection committee members has also been scrutinized. As an outsider to the sports world, Condoleezza Rice was the focus of some criticism. Former Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden opined that the committee's members should be "people who played the game and preferably coached the game". Former Auburn head coach Pat Dye said that "All she knows about football is what somebody told her ... or what she read in a book, or what she saw on television. To understand football, you've got to play with your hand in the dirt". Former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese also gained membership on the selection committee despite having never played football in college. Former sportswriter Steve Weiberg and retired U.S. Air Force General Michael Gould are other committee members without significant football playing, coaching or administrative experience.
The semifinal games for the 2015 season were scheduled for December 31; they were expected to have lower television viewership because the date is not a federal holiday, and because the second game faced heavy competition for television viewers in primetime from New Year's Eve specials. Under television contracts with ESPN that predate the College Football Playoff, both the Rose and Sugar Bowl games are guaranteed exclusive TV time slots on January 1 (or January 2 if New Year's Day falls on a Sunday), regardless of whether they are hosting a semifinal game. In an interview with CBS Sports, CFP commissioner Bill Hancock suggested this scheduling issue would "change the paradigm of what New Year's Eve is all about," opining that "if you're hosting a New Year's Eve party, you better have a bunch of televisions around." Although ESPN proposed moving the Thursday, December 31, 2015 semifinal games to Saturday, January 2, 2016, the idea was rejected. The semifinal games' ratings were ultimately down significantly from those of the previous season.
In an effort to reduce the impact of their New Year's Eve scheduling, the 2016 semifinal games, which fall on a Saturday, will have earlier kickoff times, at 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. ET respectively. The 2016 Orange Bowl will be played in primetime on December 30, 2016 rather than in an early afternoon window on New Year's Eve. Hancock considered the earlier start times to be a compromise to reduce the games' intrusion into New Year's Eve festivities, but reiterated that there were no plans to move the semi-final games from New Year's Eve outside of years where they are hosted by the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl.
On July 28, 2016, however, Hancock reversed this stance and announced revisions to the scheduling for future College Football Playoff semi-final games. The games were re-scheduled so that they will not necessarily be played on New Year's Eve yearly: outside of years when they are hosted by the Rose and Sugar Bowls (where they retain their traditional New Year's Day scheduling), they will now be scheduled primarily on the last Saturday or federally-observed holiday of the year. In some years, this date will land on New Year's Eve. In 2021, the games will be played on a Friday, December 31, 2021, because the day will be observed as a holiday.
- College football playoff debate
- College football national championships in NCAA Division I FBS
- List of college bowl games
- Mythical National Championship
- Plus-One system
- McMurphy, Brett (April 24, 2013). "Football playoff has name and site". ESPN. Retrieved April 24, 2013.
- Wolken, Dan (April 25, 2013). "Questions and answers for the College Football Playoff". USA Today. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
- Whitley, David (February 8, 2013). "College football playoff selection committee members will need witness protection". AOL.SportingNews.com. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
- Tim Layden (November 29, 2004). "The BCS Mess". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
- Pete Thamel (December 31, 2006). "After Much Debate, College Football's Postseason Future Is Still Cloudy". New York Times. Retrieved January 13, 2014.
- "College Football Playoff tweaks dates in upcoming seasons". ESPN.com. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
- Heather Dinch (June 27, 2012). "Playoff plan to run through 2025". ESPN.com. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
- Dennis Dodd (July 23, 2013). "New College Football Playoff will reportedly feature a new trophy". CBSSports.com. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
- C.N. (14 January 2015). "The business of college football: Undisputed champs in a disputed sport". The Economist. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
- Dodd, Dennis (24 June 2014). "Fringe benefit of College Football Playoff? No more mythical titles". CBS Sports. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
- "College Football Playoff Announces Selection Committee". College Football Playoff official website. October 14, 2013.
- Frequently Asked Questions and Answers About the College Football Playoff Selection Committee, College Football Playoff, January 21, 2014
- Jeff Long to Serve as Chairman of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee, College Football Playoff, October 13, 2013
- College Football Playoff Names Kirby Hocutt Chair of Selection Committee, collegefootballplayoff.com, January 14, 2016
- Matt Hayes (July 17, 2013). "College Football Playoff selection committee to include current ADs". SportingNews.com. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
- Schroeder, Dave (July 16, 2014). "Power Five's College Football Playoff revenues will double what BCS paid". USA Today. Archived from the original on October 11, 2014.
- Brett McMurphy (May 29, 2013). "Parameters for selectors in place". ESPN.com. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
- "Phil Fulmer eyes selection committee". August 9, 2013. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
- Pat Forde (June 18, 2013). "College Football Playoff brass one step closer to establishing selection committee". Yahoo Sports. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
- George Schroeder (Sep 25, 2013). "Playoff selection committee to be set by season's end". USA Today. Retrieved Sep 26, 2013.
- Stewart Mandel (October 16, 2013). "Condoleezza Rice discusses her role on the selection committee". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
- Chuck Carlton (October 15, 2013). "How controversial Condoleezza Rice pick will affect Dallas' national championship game". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
- "Haden Steps Down". ESPN.com. October 30, 2015. Retrieved November 11, 2015.
- "Oliver Luck joins NCAA". ESPN.com. December 17, 2014. Retrieved December 17, 2014.
- Heather Dinich (January 9, 2015). "Bill Hancock, Archie Manning talk playoff". ESPN.com. Retrieved January 24, 2015.
- Hancock Announces Membership Changes to CFP Selection Committee, Collegefootballplayoff.com, Mar 27, 2015
- "Lloyd Carr resigns from CFP for health reasons". Sportingnews.com.
- Brett McMurphy (April 29, 2014). "CFP to release rankings on Tuesdays". ESPN.com.
- George Schroeder (April 3, 2014). "College Football Playoff committee discusses recusals". USA Today. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
- Stewart Mandel (March 10, 2014). "How could a mid-major qualify for the College Football Playoff?". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
- Jon Solomon (July 17, 2013). "Report: College Football Playoff committee will use current athletics directors". AL.com. Retrieved August 11, 2013.
- Tom Van Riper (March 1, 2014). "College Football's Playoff Problem". Forbes.com. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
- "Playoff committee sets parameters". ESPN.com. Associated Press. May 1, 2014. Retrieved May 7, 2014.
- Stewart Mandel (April 30, 2014). "College Football Playoff to release polls ... but why?". SI.com. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- George Schroeder (May 1, 2014). "Playoff decided on field, but questioned everywhere else". USA Today. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- Mark Schlabach (May 1, 2014). "How to say 'I recuse myself'?". ESPN.com. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- Dennis Dodd (April 30, 2014). "Flimsy recusal policy puts bull's-eye on playoff selection committee". CBSSports.com. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- "Selection Committee Frequently Asked Questions" (PDF). 2015-2016 College Football Playoff Media Guide. College Football Playoff. August 10, 2015. Retrieved November 16, 2015.
- Brett McMurphy (November 13, 2012). "Six bowls in playoff format". ESPN.com. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
- Brett McMurphy (January 3, 2013). "Irish would earn $13.75M for Orange". ESPN.com. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
- Brett McMurphy (November 16, 2012). "ACC, Orange Bowl reach deal". ESPN.com. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
- "Two bowls team with ACC, Big Ten". ESPN.com. Associated Press. July 18, 2013. Retrieved May 6, 2014.
- Joe Schad (April 29, 2014). "Playoff officials discuss options". ESPN.com. Retrieved April 30, 2014.
- Brad Edwards (December 18, 2013). "The playoff's SOS problem". ESPN.com. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
- Stephen J. Nesbitt (March 10, 2014). "Lure of big game alters NCAA football". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
- Ross Dellinger (April 6, 2014). "How Verge Ausberry, LSU approach modern-day football schedules". The Advocate. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
- Kevin Scarbinsky (February 3, 2014). "Doesn't Auburn know Thursday nights are where top-10 teams go to die?". AL.com. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
- "SEC sticking with 8-game league football schedule". Associated Press. April 27, 2014. Retrieved April 28, 2014.
- Jon Solomon (March 7, 2014). "Majority of SEC ADs favor 8 league football games, but presidents will help as decision nears". AL.com. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
- Dennis Dodd (March 3, 2014). "Will the playoff selection committee influence conference scheduling?". CBSSports.com. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
- Andrea Adelson and Brett McMurphy (May 14, 2014). "Vote: ACC games as nonconference". ESPN.com. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- McMurphy, Brett (January 29, 2015). "ACC: BYU to count as Power 5 team". ESPN.com. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
- Heather Dinich (February 6, 2014). "ACC coaches to discuss 9-game schedule". ESPN.com. Retrieved April 28, 2014.
- Heather Dinich (April 29, 2014). "ACC schedule not set; vote looms?". ESPN.com. Retrieved April 30, 2014.
- Jeremy Fowler (April 27, 2014). "ACC watching SEC's 8- vs. 9-game scheduling decision closely". CBSSports.com. Retrieved April 28, 2014.
- Tim Tucker (April 18, 2014). "Chick-fil-A Bowl will restore 'Peach' to its name". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved April 20, 2014.
- Staff reports (July 22, 2013). "Sources: 'New Year's Six' likely the working title for College Football Playoff's six bowl games". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
- "College Football Playoff Releases Details of Selection Committee Procedure". College Football Playoff. May 1, 2014. Retrieved May 6, 2014.
- The Playoff factsheet, College Football Playoff, January 2014
- Stewart Mandel (12 November 2012). "Stewart Mandel: Big East, rest of 'Group of Five' score victory with six-bowl decision". SI.com. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
- Jerry Hinnen (August 7, 2013). "CFB playoff opens bidding for 2016, '17 championship games". CBSSports.com. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
- "ESPN to televise college football playoff in 12-year deal". ESPN. April 24, 2013. Retrieved April 26, 2013.
- "ESPN Reaches 12-Year College Football Agreement With Orange Bowl". Bloomberg Businessweek. Archived from the original on January 7, 2013. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
- "ESPN Strikes Deal for College Football Playoff". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
- "College Football Playoff final sets ratings record for ESPN, cable TV". Los Angeles Times. January 13, 2015. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
- Chicago Tribune (January 13, 2015). "New college football playoff draws larger TV audience for title game". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
- "Win for ESPN, but Title Game Is the Real Test". The New York Times. January 2, 2015. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
- Derek Volner (January 13, 2015). "College Football Playoff National Championship on ESPN Delivers Largest Audience in Cable History; ESPN Streaming Record for non-World Cup Programming". ESPN Media Zone. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
- Bill Chappell (January 13, 2015). "College Football Championship Sets A New Cable Ratings Record". NPR. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
- "College Football Playoff TV ratings drop with New Year's Eve time slots". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
- John Ourand and Michael Smith (November 9, 2012). "ESPN homes in on 12-year BCS package". Sports Business Daily. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
- Jerry Hinnen (November 21, 2012). "ESPN reaches 12-year deal to air college football playoffs". CBSSports.com. Retrieved August 11, 2013.
- George Schroeder (December 12, 2012). "College football playoff revenue distribution set". USA Today. Retrieved April 26, 2014.
- Brett McMurphy (December 11, 2012). "Big earnings for power conferences". ESPN.com. Retrieved April 26, 2014.
- Michael Smith & John Ourand (October 15, 2012). "ESPN focuses on BCS, Big East media rights". Sports Business Daily. Retrieved August 11, 2013.
- Mark Schlabach (June 26, 2012). "Playoff approved, questions remain". ESPN.com. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
- Ralph D. Russo (November 12, 2012). "College football playoff to have 6 games, not 7". Associated Press. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
- Vahe Gregorian (July 1, 2013). "As College Football Playoff nears, Bill Hancock readies for change". Kansas City Star. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
- Michael Smith (November 19, 2013). "ACC's Kelly joins football playoff system". Sports Business Journal. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
- Stewart Mandel (June 20, 2013). "College Football Playoff crazy to forgo committee 'dry run' in 2013". SI.com. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
- Stewart Mandel (April 23, 2013). "Flawed BCS replaced with better, if imperfect College Football Playoff". SI.com. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
- "Governane". College Football Playoff. Retrieved July 7, 2015.
- "Lessons of 2011 may still apply to College Football Playoff process". USA TODAY. 10 October 2015. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
- Chuck Culpepper (7 December 2014). "College Football Playoff field set but controversy lingers with Ohio State in, TCU snubbed". Washington Post. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
- Pete Thamel (7 December 2014). "Vague playoff criteria set to cause chaos after Championship Saturday". SI.com. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
- Shurtleff, Mark L. (October 1, 2011). "BCS has devolved college football into unfairness, greed". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved June 25, 2012.
- Fox Sports. "Videos - FOX Sports". FOX Sports. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
- Michael Bird (6 January 2015). "What the hell happened to the SEC West?". SBNation.com. Vox Media. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
- Fox Sports. "Baylor, TCU take it on the chin yet again from CFP committee". FOX Sports. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
- Will Leitch. "The playoff may still be unkind to undefeated teams.". SportsonEarth.com. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
- Jon Wilner (7 December 2014). "College football: Controversy reigns, as ever, over playoff selections". The Mercury News. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
- "College football: FBS conferences with fewer than 12 members now able to hold championship game" (Press release). NCAA. January 13, 2016. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
- "The College Football Playoff has become more controversial than the BCS". Retrieved 10 December 2015.
- Kevin Trahan (27 October 2014). "Tommy Bowden does not think Condoleezza Rice should be on the College Football Playoff committee". SBNation.com. Vox Media. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
- Cork Gaines (8 October 2013). "People Don't Want Condoleezza Rice On College Football's Playoff Selection Committee - Business Insider". Business Insider. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
- "College Football Playoff drops ball with 2015 New Year's Eve semis". SI.com. January 12, 2015. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
- Tony Barnhart (January 6, 2014). "Before BCS ends, the whens, wheres, whys of College Football Playoff". CBSSports.com. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
- Richard Deitsch (July 2, 2015). "A daunting task: Can the CFP, ESPN change old New Year's Eve habits?". SI.com. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
- "Orange Bowl game is shifted to prime time on Dec. 30". Miami Herald. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
- "The 2017 College Football Playoff will still be on New Year's Eve, but it'll start earlier". SB Nation. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
- "College Football Playoff semis will only be on Saturdays or holidays". SI.com. Retrieved 28 July 2016.