College Football Playoff Explained

The College Football Playoff began with the 2014-15 season. The semifinals match the No. 1 seed vs. No. 4 seed, and the No. 2 seed vs. No. 3 seed. The semifinal games will rotate annually among bowl games in Atlanta (Peach Bowl), Dallas (Cotton Bowl), Miami (Orange Bowl), New Orleans (Sugar Bowl), Pasadena (Rose Bowl) and Phoenix (Fiesta Bowl).

The 2021-22 season national championship game will be held in Indianapolis on January 10, 2022.

Selection Committee
Gary Barta (Chair) Will Shields
Mitch Barnhart Gene Taylor
Paola Boivin Joe Taylor
Tom Burman John Urschel
Charlie Cobb Rod West
Boo Corrigan Tyrone Willingham
Rick George  
Rankings Release Dates
Week 1 November 2
Week 2 November 9
Week 3 December 16
Week 4 November 23
Week 5 November 30
Final December 5 (Selection Sunday)
Playoff Schedule
Season Semifinals Championship
2021 Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl on December 31 Indianapolis, Indiana, January 10, 2022
2022 Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl on December 31 Los Angeles, California, January 9, 2023
2023 Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl on January 1 Houston, Texas, January 8, 2024
2024 Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl on December 28 Location TBD, January 6, 2025
2025 Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl on December 27 Location TBD, January 5, 2026

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Mission of the Selection Committee?

The committee’s mission will be to rank the top 25 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), select and seed the best four teams for the playoff, and assign other teams to selected other bowl games. No conferences will have automatic bids into the playoff. There is no limit on the number of teams from a conference that can participate.

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

Selection committee members will have flexibility to examine whatever data they believe is relevant to inform their decisions. They will also review a significant amount of game video. Among the many factors the committee will consider are win-loss record, strength of schedule, head-to-head results, comparison of results against common opponents and conference championships. Each committee member will evaluate the data at hand, and then the individuals will come together to make a group decision.

Will there be ballot votes to determine the top four teams? What about the other New Year's bowls?

The voting process will include a series of ballots through which the committee members first select a pool of teams to be considered, then rank those teams. Individual ballots will be compiled into a composite ranking. Each committee member independently will evaluate an immense amount of information during the process. This evaluation will bring about individual qualitative and quantitative opinions that will lead to each member’s vote.

Will the committee’s deliberations be made public?

The selection committee process will be as transparent as possible, and both the selection committee and management committee will deliberate and determine the most appropriate ways to achieve that. We want to create an arrangement that allows for maximum disclosure, while also allowing the committee to deliberate among themselves in a thoughtful and effective manner. The selection committee will have a structure and a defined set of procedures that will be made available to the public.

How many teams will the selection committee rank?

The committee will rank 25 teams.

Will the selection committee publicize its rankings throughout the 2021 season?

Yes. The committee will meet in person to evaluate teams and prepare interim rankings during the regular season. The committee will issue its first rankings of 2021 on Tuesday, November 2. These interim rankings will provide a measure of transparency and will enable teams and fans to understand the current state of play. The other dates for interim rankings will be Nov. 9, Nov. 16, Nov. 23, and Nov. 30. The final rankings and playoff matchups will be set on Sunday, Dec. 5.

When will the committee meet during the 2021 season? Will they meet in person?

The selection committee will meet in person on Mondays and Tuesdays for six consecutive weeks beginning in late October to formulate rankings, and will meet again during selection weekend to conduct a final evaluation and determine the pairings for the playoff and the other bowls.

When will Selection Weekend happen?

The committee’s "selection weekend" will be the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, December 4-5, 2021.

Why are there 13 members of the selection committee?

The number was chosen to allow for good representation, active discussion and differences of views, and to permit decision-making. The management committee feels this is the right size -- not too small or too large.

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

The top-priority criterion was integrity. There are five categories of individuals: People with experience as (1) coaches, (2) student-athletes, (3) administrators, (4) journalists and also (5) sitting directors of athletics. The management committee gave careful consideration to the standards for membership and to identifying individuals who matched the criteria. Among the other valued attributes were football expertise, objectivity, ability to carefully evaluate and discern information and experience in making decisions under scrutiny. Members were 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 institutional knowledge of college football, and the selection committee is much stronger with their participation. Many ADs have careers spanning more than one conference and many have worked at the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level as well. The goal was to make the selection committee the best and strongest it can be, which is why ADs are included. Like all selection committee members, ADs will act in the best interest of the game.

How will the teams that are not in the playoff be selected for the other bowls that make up this new arrangement?

All conferences negotiated individual bowl contracts for their champions. Five conferences have 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).

The highest ranked champion of the other five Football Bowl Subdivision conferences (the American Athletic, Conference-USA, Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt), as determined by the selection committee, will play in one of the six New Year’s bowls. Other available berths will be awarded to the teams ranked highest by the committee. The committee will assign teams to bowls.

When the Fiesta, Cotton and Atlanta bowls are not hosting semifinal games, their participants will come from three sources: (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 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.

Can selection committee members serve more than one term? If so, how many terms are allowed or can they serve forever if they like?

Members will serve one three-year term. Terms shall be staggered to allow for an eventual rotation of members. Until the rotation has been achieved, certain terms may be shorter or longer.

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 seek a replacement.

Will future chairs be appointed by the management committee or by the members of the selection committee themselves?

The Management Committee selected the first chair of the committee. The selection committee members will select future chairs.

Will the selection committee members be compensated?

No, there will be no compensation for committee members. Expenses will be reimbursed.

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

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

What is the role of the chair?

The chair of the selection committee is responsible for the leadership of the committee and will ensure an environment under which the committee members work together to evaluate teams and create rankings. The chair will lead meetings, help set the committee’s agenda, and share spokesperson duties with the executive director of the College Football Playoff. The chair -- and the selection committee itself -- will not be involved in the operation of the playoff; its sole responsibility will be 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 will not have a vote, and the College Football Playoff staff’s role will be to provide support to the committee. The executive director and staff will direct the day-to-day business and administrative operations of the playoff itself, in keeping with the objectives established by the board of managers and management committee.

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

Will committee members have specific assignments, i.e. specific conferences?

Yes, committee members will gather information on conferences and will provide reports on the conferences’ teams to the full committee, but all committee members will be expected to study all teams and be prepared to discern among all the information available, including video, to make evaluations.