Over the next six weeks, you’re going to hear the term “College Football Playoff Selection Committee” quite a lot.
As the college football regular season barrels towards its conclusion, this band of individuals takes over from the AP Poll as the authority on the best teams in the nation. But what is the College Football Playoff Selection Committee?
What is the College Football Playoff Selection Committee?
The College Football Playoff Selection Committee is a panel of 13 individuals with relevant ties to — and experience within — college football. They decide the top 25 teams in the nation, and ultimately decide who fill fight for the College Football National Championship once the regular season comes to an end. However, there’s a little bit more to it than that.
When it was decided in 2012 that college football would move away from the BCS era — with two teams competing for a national title on the basis of computer-generated rankings — to a final four-style tournament that christened the College Football Playoff, a committee was needed to provide a human element to the decision process of deciding the top four teams in the nation.
The College Football Playoff Selection Committee was born with a simple mission statement:
“The committee’s task will be to select the best teams, rank the teams for inclusion in the playoff and selected other bowl games, and then assign the teams to sites.”
Like any secret society, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee meets in private, reportedly up to 10 times per year.
A shadowy entity working out of the Gaylord Texan hotel in Grapevine, Texas, they discuss and dissect the now 133 FBS teams — although James Madison, Jacksonville State, and Sam Houston aren’t eligible for their respective conference championships or even a post-season berth — decreeing which are the top 25 teams in the nation.
The CFP Committee is tasked with deciding the best teams in the nation using a number of factors.
Complex statistical analysis, strength of schedule, and the mythical “eye test” are terms consistently associated with the College Football Playoff Selection Committee and its decision-making process. However, these are the guiding principles that help the members compare, contrast, and ultimately rank and decide which teams are the best in the nation:
- Conference championships won
- Strength of schedule
- Head-to-head competition
- Comparative outcomes of common opponents (without incenting margin of victory)
- Other relevant factors, such as the unavailability of key players and coaches, may have affected a team’s performance during the season or will likely affect its postseason performance.
The College Football Playoff Selection Committee releases its ranking on a weekly basis. These Tuesday night rankings, released in a show televised by ESPN, usually begin in late October/late November and run until “Selection Sunday,” which occurs following the completion of conference championship games.
The first set of College Football Playoff Rankings for the 2023 season are released on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023, at 7 p.m. ET. The schedule for the rest of the rankings is below.
- Tuesday, Oct. 31, 7 p.m. ET
- Tuesday, Nov. 7, 7 p.m. ET
- Tuesday, Nov. 14, 9 p.m. ET
- Tuesday, Nov. 21, 7 p.m. ET
- Tuesday, Nov. 28, 7 p.m. ET
- Sunday, Dec. 3, 12 p.m. ET (Selection Sunday)
In that final show, the College Football Playoff’s “final four” are revealed alongside the remaining New Year’s Six bowl games.
The complicated process of evaluating all 133 college football programs and condensing them into 25 of the very best in the nation starts with the members of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee, each submitting a list of the 30 teams they consider to be the best in the nation.
Following a series of discussions and debates (sometimes heated), listings, and rankings that begin with establishing the top three teams in the nation, they finally arrive at a consensus top 25 that make up the College Football Playoff rankings.