What the College Football Playoff Selection Process Will Look Like

USA TODAY Sports

Using the 2012 BCS standings as a guide, here is what the selection process will be in each of the three possible scenarios.

The selection process for the College Football Playoff is going to be a bit different than what it was for the BCS. It's not even finalized yet, but last night's announcements fill in most of the blanks.

Using the final 2012 BCS standings as a stand-in for the selection committee's rankings, here is what the big six bowls would look like under each of the three rotation options. This is not a place to debate whether the committee's rankings would precisely match the BCS formula's for last season (I would hope not, or else what's the point?); I'm merely trying to demonstrate how the selection process will work.

The Pool of Participants

No. 1 Notre Dame, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Florida, and No. 4 Oregon would play in the semifinals.

No. 5 Kansas State, No. 6 Stanford, No. 12 Florida State, and Wisconsin would all get contractual spots in the non-semifinal bowls as major conference champions.

The top rated team from the so-called "Group of Five" (the five non-major conferences) will automatically get a spot in a host bowl if it's not in the semifinals. No. 15 Northern Illinois is that team for 2012, so it would get a spot.

Due to a couple of different clauses I'll detail below, No. 7 Georgia is guaranteed a spot on way or another. Assuming that the top-ranked teams that don't have contractual tie-ins will get the remaining slots, No. 8 LSU, and No. 9 Texas A&M would be the at-large teams. In the final scenario, LSU is actually guaranteed a spot too, leaving A&M as the only true at-large then.

Rose and Sugar as Semifinals

Semifinal A

No. 1

No. 4

Rose Bowl

Notre Dame Oregon

We don't know much yet how the process will work for sending which pair of teams to which semifinal. About all we have to go on is that the committee is supposed to prevent the top two seeds from playing in a road-like environment. I think Notre Dame has a national enough fan base and that Pasadena is far enough away from Eugene that these two would end up here. How could they resist putting Notre Dame in the Grandaddy of Them All?

Semifinal B

No. 2

No. 3

Sugar Bowl

Alabama Florida

This is the other half of the argument. An all-SEC semifinal matchup should happen in the Sugar Bowl if possible (i.e. LSU isn't No. 3 or 4). The end.

Contract Bowl

ACC Champ

ND/SEC/B1G

Orange Bowl

FSU Georgia

This lovely little meteor game is the third contract bowl. When it's not a semifinal, the Orange Bowl will pit the ACC Champ (or the top-rated available ACC team if the champ is in the semifinals) against the top rated available team from the SEC, the Big Ten, or Notre Dame*. With Notre Dame in the semifinal and Ohio State on probation, Georgia gets the nod.

*Note: The SEC and Big Ten are guaranteed at least three appearances apiece in the Orange Bowl when it's not a semifinal across the 12 years of the playoff contract. Notre Dame also may not appear more than twice in the 12 years. As we get later and later into the contract, those stipulations may end up affecting the second team selected for the game.

Next up are the host bowls. The selection process for them has not been hammered out yet, other than that presumably the selection committee will pick them. The main word we have on them is that "an optimum matchup between top teams will be determined".

I am making a couple assumptions here. First, the committee will distribute the teams by geography to give the games the best chance of selling out. Second, they will try to avoid regular season rematches wherever possible.

With that said, here goes nothing:

Host Bowl West

Big 12 Champ

Pac-12 Champ

Fiesta Bowl

Kansas State Stanford

This is the easy one. Both K-State and Stanford are guaranteed spots in the host bowls as Big 12 and Pac-12 champions, respectively, because their contract bowls are pulling semifinal duty. These two are the westernmost teams, the Fiesta has a history with the Big 12, and it often has taken Pac-12 teams when available. Done and done.

Host Bowl Central

At-Large

Group of Five

Cotton Bowl

Texas Agricultural and Mechanical NIU

Here is where the selection process requires a judgment call. Because I'm assuming that ticket sales will be a factor in determining where teams will play, I'm putting the small NIU fan base in the Cotton with the Aggies. The reenergized A&M fans figure to snap up plenty of tickets in their home state, so I'm guessing NIU would end up here.

Host Bowl East

At-Large

Big Ten Champ

Peach Bowl

LSU Wisconsin

Sorry, LSU, but you're in the Peach Bowl again. The Tigers will take on the final tie-in team, the Big Ten champ Wisconsin. Like KSU and Stanford, it would play in a host bowl because its contract bowl is a semifinal.

Orange and Cotton as Semifinals

Semifinal A

No. 1

No. 4

Orange Bowl

Notre Dame Oregon

Semifinal B

No. 2

No. 3

Cotton Bowl

Alabama Florida

Despite geography, this is how these games would end up. The commandment to keep Nos. 1 and 2 away from road-like environments would preclude Alabama-Florida from happening in Miami.

Contract Bowl

Big 12 Champ

SEC

Sugar Bowl

Kansas State Georgia

The Sugar Bowl will be the tie-in for the Big 12 winner, remember, as it will become the "Champions Bowl". K-State therefore gets a bid automatically. Like with the Orange Bowl and the ACC, the Sugar will get the highest-ranked SEC and/or Big 12 teams to replace any unavailable champions. Alabama is otherwise occupied, so Georgia, come on down.

Contract Bowl

Pac-12 Champ

Big Ten Champ

Rose Bowl

Stanford Wisconsin

The Rose Bowl ends up getting the two teams it always wants: the Pac-12 champ and the Big Ten champ. Bully for it. The same replacement rules apply here as with the Orange and Sugar if either the Big Ten or Pac-12 champ is in the semifinals.

Host Bowl West

At-Large

Group of Five

Fiesta Bowl

Texas Agricultural and Mechanical NIU

The reasoning here works the same way as it did in the first scenario. A&M fits best here as the westernmost team among the four remaining schools. FSU is the easternmost and closest to Atlanta, so it gets a spot in the Peach. To avoid a regular season rematch, NIU gets shipped out to the desert to face Johnny Football and company.

Host Bowl East

At-Large

ACC Champ

Peach Bowl

LSU FSU

Welcome to the JimBowl.

Fiesta and Peach as Semifinals

Semifinal A

No. 1

No. 4

Fiesta Bowl

Notre Dame Oregon

Semifinal B

No. 2

No. 3

Peach Bowl

Alabama Florida

Glendale is even farther away from Oregon than Pasadena is, so if the 1-vs.-4 game can happen in the Rose, it can happen in the Fiesta. Besides, it wouldn't make sense for Bama and Florida to go out to Arizona, now would it? Also, how strange would this feel for the Crimson Tide? It'd be like playing another SEC Championship Game, what with it facing an SEC East opponent in the Georgia Dome for the second time in a month.

Contract Bowl

Big 12 Champ

SEC

Sugar Bowl

Kansas State Georgia

Same deal as before. It's the Big 12 champion against the top available SEC team.

Contract Bowl

Pac-12 Champ

Big Ten Champ

Rose Bowl

Stanford Wisconsin

No change here, either.

Contract Bowl

ND/SEC/B1G

ACC Champ

Orange Bowl

LSU FSU

It's the same JimBowl here as above, only this time it's in Miami instead of Atlanta. Finally, LSU escapes the Peach Bowl.

Host Bowl Central

At-Large

Group of Five

Cotton Bowl

Texas Agricultural and Mechanical NIU

There's no escaping the Huskies for Texas A&M, I'm afraid. There is no amount of uncertainty here, as these are the only two teams left in the only bowl that's left. In years where the Fiesta and Peach are semifinal games, contracts will take care of every other possibility outside of this game. There will be no room for lobbying from the Dallas contingent in years like this one.

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