So what's the deal with this college football playoff?
For the fourth time in history, the leaders of college football have decided to hold a playoff to determine the sport's national champion. For the first time in history, that playoff will consist of more than two teams.
The semifinals for the system will rotate among six bowl games, and the national championship game will be bid out and not branded as a bowl. A selection committee will determine who gets to play in the games. The contract will last for 12 years and is expected to fetch up to $500 million per year.
Which six bowls will be in the semifinal rotation?
We don't know yet. Because of the power conferences' preferences, three of them are expected to be the Rose Bowl (Big Ten/Pac-12), the Still Forming But For Right Now It's Called the Champions Bowl (SEC/Big 12) and the Orange Bowl (ACC). Likely candidates for the other three spots include the Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the Chick-fil-A Bowl, and the soon-to-be-renovated Capital One Bowl.
When will the games be played?
The semifinals will happen either on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day. The title game will happen on "Championship Monday", defined as the first Monday in January that is six or more days after the semifinals are over.
How will the money be divided?
We don't know.
Who will be on the selection committee?
We don't know.
How large will the selection committee be?
We don't know.
They really left a lot to be figured out later. They've got the time, though, as the 2014 season is when the playoff will first start taking place.
Do we at least know the criteria that the committee will use?
Here I'll just quote from the press release: "Among the factors the committee will value are win-loss record, strength of schedule, head-to-head results, and whether a team is a conference champion." I know what you're thinking and no, there will be no cap on how many teams from a single conference get to make the playoff.
"Among" is a CYA term to indicate that this part hasn't been finalized yet either. We also don't know what relative weight each of the factors will get. The only other clue we got was Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott saying that he doesn't expect there to be a football equivalent to the RPI, and even that is only an expectation.
Is a committee really better than the BCS formula?
I suppose that depends on how precisely the committee is formed and works, but given that every single element of the BCS formula is fatally flawed, the answer is almost certainly "yes".
What will they call this new system?
All we know is that the "BCS" term is going away. Beyond that, it's up in the air. It almost certainly won't be called the "Final Four" or "Football Final Four" because the NCAA owns the trademark on "Final Four" and it's not going to be running this playoff.
Will this end the controversy surrounding college football's postseason and champion?
Do you know this sport at all?