College Football Playoff Selection Committee Releases Tiebreaker Details

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistJune 20, 2014

IRVING, TX - OCTOBER 16:  Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff, announces the members of the College Football Playoff selection committee on October 16, 2013 in Irving, Texas. Condoleezza Rice, Stanford University professor and former United States Secretary of State, was chosen to serve as one of the 13 members that will select four teams to compete in the first playoff at the end of the 2014 season.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Unlike the BCS algorithm, the College Football Playoff selection committee will not use arcane formulas and power numbers to rate which four (not two) teams deserve a shot to play for a national championship.

But that doesn't mean that the system is without its tiebreakers. According to Daniel Uthman of USA Todaythe CFP sent out a document from 2012 outlining its process for differentiating between "teams with similar records and similar pedigree."

"Strength of schedule, head-to-head competition and championships won must be specifically applied as tie-breakers between teams that look similar," the document reads, per Uthman. Those are some of the tangible factors that will come into play during the process.

This document provides a slightly less abstract criteria system than selection committee chairman Jeff Long put forth in late April, when he said the committee was looking for the "best" instead of the "most deserving" teams in the country for the playoff.

"We don’t think in terms of most deserving on the resume,” Long said, according to Chuck Carlton of The Dallas Morning News. "We’re focused on the best four teams and the best ranking in the [playoff] top 25. Again, our focus is the best, not deserving."

Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

This most recent announcement would seem to run contrary to Long's statements, as it appears the committee does have some quantifiable things it is looking for. The chairman of the committee said he is not looking for "most deserving on the resume," but this document lists a number of tiebreakers that are resume-related.


What this means, for us, is that the CFP selection process will continue to be shrouded in doubt until the first few polls are released—and, to be completely honest, until the four teams are selected. 

What this means, for college football, is that FBS Independents such as Notre Dame and BYU might be in for a little bit of trouble.

Let's pretend, for example, that Notre Dame and Oregon have similar resumes in a given year. They both finished 11-1 in the regular season and beat some quality teams. The only major difference is that Notre Dame did not get to play a conference championship game, but Oregon beat, say, USC to claim the Pac-12 title.

Based on this most recent release, Oregon would get the benefit of the tiebreaker because it had won a championship. In a vacuum, that seems fair. But as Notre Dame is not even competing to win a regular-season championship, it would be met with much contention.

Is there a better solution out there? I am not exactly sure. Perhaps these new ordinances will finally force Notre Dame into a conference affiliation. It's already beginning its partial ACC membership next season, after all. Might that be the first step toward something bigger?

At this point, who really knows?