Selection Committee FAQs

What is the mission of the selection committee?

The committee’s task is to select the 25 best teams in college football, rank the teams for inclusion in the playoff and selected other bowl games and then assign the teams to bowl sites.

What is the voting procedure?

The committee starts with the teams ranked Nos. 1, 2 and 3, and continues until all 25 are ranked. After debate and discussion, the committee identifies small groups of teams and then evaluates those teams against each other in a detailed and deliberative manner. The committee members engage in seven rounds of rankings to create the top 25.

What criteria does the selection committee use to rank the teams?

The selection committee ranks the teams based on the members’ evaluation of the teams’ performance on the field, using conference championships won, strength of schedule, head-to-head results and comparison of results against common opponents to decide among teams that are comparable. The committee is comprised of experts in college football, and they use their expertise in the deliberations.

Selection committee members examine statistical data, and they also review a significant amount of game video. CFP has retained a firm, SportSource Analytics, to provide the statistical information for the committee’s use. This platform allows the committee members to compare teams on every possible level. Each member evaluates the data at hand, and then the individuals produce a group decision through the seven rounds of voting.

What are the mechanics of the rankings?

Each round includes a “listing step” and a “ranking step.”  In the listing step, committee members first select a pool of teams to be considered. Teams receiving the most votes then advance to the ranking step, in which each member ranks the teams. Those individual rankings are then compiled into a composite. Teams No. 1, 2 and 3 are ranked in the first round. Teams 4, 5 and 6, in the second round. Teams 7, 8 and 8, in the third round. Then, the committee switches to ranking four teams each in rounds four, five, six and seven. Each committee member independently evaluates the data, and the group engages in thorough discussion during each step and each round. This evaluation brings about individual qualitative and quantitative opinions that inform each member’s vote.

Are the committee’s deliberations made public?

The selection committee’s process and procedures are available on the website. The intent is to achieve maximum disclosure, while also allowing the committee members to deliberate among themselves in a thoughtful and effective manner, with the appropriate candor. Also, the committee conducts “mock” selection exercises to allow reporters and others to become familiar with all the details of the process.

How many teams does the selection committee rank?

The committee ranks 25 teams each week.

Does the selection committee publicize its rankings throughout the season?

Yes, after each meeting. The committee members meet weekly, in person, on Mondays and Tuesdays to produce rankings. The committee then meets again on selection weekend to conduct a final evaluation and determine the final rankings and pairings for the Playoff Semifinals and New Year’s bowls. To learn more about the selection committee rankings, click here.

When does selection weekend happen?

Selection weekend will be Friday-Sunday, December 1-3, 2017.

Why are there 13 members of the selection committee?

The number was chosen to allow for a diversity of viewpoints, geographical representation, and active discussion. Our experience shows this is the right size — not too small or too large.

What criteria were used to choose members of the selection committee?

The top criteria are knowledge and integrity. There are five categories of members: People with experience as (1) coaches, (2) student-athletes, (3) administrators, (4) journalists and also (5) sitting directors of athletics. The management committee gives careful consideration to the standards for membership and to identifying high integrity individuals who meet the criteria. Among the other valued attributes are football expertise, objectivity, ability to carefully evaluate and discern information and experience in making decisions under scrutiny. Members are asked to commit significant time to the endeavor.

Why are athletics directors on the committee?

The directors of athletics (ADs) have some of the best knowledge of college football, and the selection committee is much stronger with their participation. Many ADs have careers spanning more than one conference and have worked at the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level as well. The goal is to make the selection committee the best and most knowledgeable it can be, which is why ADs are included. Like all selection committee members, ADs act in the best interest of the game, and they are recused from voting and discussing their schools.

Is there a recusal policy in place for committee members?

Yes. Committee members are recused from participating in votes involving a school’s team if they or an immediate family member receives compensation from the school or has a professional relationship with that school. The committee has the option to add other recusals if special circumstances arise. To learn more about the recusal policy and to view the selection committee protocol in its entirety, click here.

What are the terms of the recusal policy?

A recused member shall not participate in any votes, nor be present during deliberations involving the team’s selection or seeding, but may answer factual questions about the institution from which the member is recused. The recusal policy is virtually identical to the NCAA men’s basketball committee policy.

How are the non-playoff teams selected for the other bowls that make up this new arrangement?

All conferences negotiated individual bowl contracts for their champions. Five conferences arranged contracts for their champions to play in New Year’s bowl games — Atlantic Coast (Orange), Big Ten (Rose), Big 12 (Sugar), Pac-12 (Rose) and Southeastern (Sugar).

If it is not playing in a Playoff Semifinal, the highest-ranked champion of the other five Football Bowl Subdivision conferences (i.e., the American Athletic, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt), as determined by the selection committee, will play in either the Cotton, Fiesta or Peach bowl. Other available berths are awarded to the teams ranked highest by the committee. The committee assigns teams to bowls.

When the Cotton, Fiesta and Peach bowls are not hosting semifinal games, their participants will come from three pools: (1) The highest-ranked champion among the five conferences listed in the paragraph above, (2) conference champions that are displaced when their contracted bowls host semifinals games and (3) the remaining teams ranked highest in the committee’s rankings.

The committee will assign teams to the non-playoff bowls to create the most compelling matchups, while considering other factors such as geographic proximity, avoiding rematches of regular-season games and avoiding rematches of recent years’ bowl games.

How long are the committee members' terms? Can selection committee members serve more than one term?

Each member serves one three-year term. Terms of the first group of committee members were staggered to allow for an eventual rotation.  A member selected to fill a partial term (e.g., replacing a member who must depart before finishing the term) may serve more than three years.

Can a committee member be removed? If so, by whom and for what reasons?

In the unlikely scenario where a committee member is unable to meet the obligations that come with serving on the committee, the management committee would appoint a replacement.

Who appoints the chair of the committee?

The management committee appoints the committee chair.

Are the selection committee members compensated?

No, there is no compensation for committee members. Expenses are reimbursed.

Do the committee members travel to games to watch in person?

The members are not expected to attend games in person. They are expected to watch video extensively.

What is the role of the committee chair?

The chair of the selection committee leads the committee’s deliberations and cultivates an environment for committee members to cooperatively evaluate teams and create rankings, with each member voicing individual opinions. The chair facilitates meetings, helps set the committee’s agenda and shares spokesperson duties with the CFP executive director. The chair — and the selection committee members — are not involved in the administration of the playoff and the games. The committee’s sole responsibility is ranking the teams and making the pairings.

What is the role of the College Football Playoff Executive Director and staff as it pertains to the selection committee operations? Is the executive director a voting member?

The executive director does not have a vote, and the staff’s role is to provide support to the committee. The executive director and staff are responsible for the day-to-day business and administrative operations of the College Football Playoff itself, in keeping with the objectives established by the board of managers and management committee.

The selection committee is an independent body that operates according to the objectives established by the board of managers and management committee.

What is the governing structure of the CFP?

CFP Administration, LLC, manages the administrative operations of the College Football Playoff. Members of the company are the 10 FBS conferences (American Athletic, Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, Pac-12, Southeastern and Sun Belt) and the University of Notre Dame. 

The company’s business, property and affairs are governed by the board of managers. The board—comprised of 11 university presidents representing each conference and Notre Dame—develops, reviews and approves annual budgets, policies and operating guidelines. It also appoints and removes officers of the company. It has authority over all aspects of the company’s operations.

The management committee manages day-to-day operations of the company. It has authority over those aspects of the company’s operations that are not reserved exclusively for the board, but all of its decisions are subject to review by the board. The management committee consists of the 10 Football Bowl Subdivision conference commissioners and Notre Dame athletics director

The company officers, serving at the direction of the board of managers, include the company president, Bill Hancock, and secretary, Michael Kelly, who carry out the day-to-day operations of the company. Hancock’s and Kelly’s formal titles are Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, respectively, of the College Football Playoff.