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The College Football Playoff is here.
Beginning this season, the top four teams in the country will play in two semifinal games (1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3) and the winners will advance to play for the national championship. With the kickoff to the college football season just around the corner, here's a primer to prepare you for the beginning of an exciting new era in American sports.
For the first time ever, a 13-person selection committee will rank the top 25 teams starting midseason and ultimately seed a four-team playoff at the end of the season.
The hosts of these two semifinal games will rotate each year between six of the most prestigious bowls in the country: the Peach Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl. All of these games will now be played on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
This year, the semifinal games will be hosted by the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl, taking place on New Year's Day.
Here's the lineup for the 2014-15 season:
The National Championship Game will then be played at an independent site at least one week after the semifinals. Interested cities will submit bids to host the game, similar to the process for the Super Bowl.
AT&T Stadium in North Texas will host the first title game on Jan. 12, 2015. Arizona will play host in 2016 and Tampa, Fla., in 2017.
The New Year's bowls and the entire College Football Playoff will be broadcast exclusively on ESPN.
Start making your New Year's plans now.
Six of the most prestigious bowl games in the country will take place over 36 hours -- played as back-to-back tripleheaders on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. This bowl marathon will include the Peach Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl -- the Rose and Sugar playing host to the College Football Playoff semifinals.
The bowls that will host the semifinals rotate on a three-year cycle with the following bowl pairings: Rose/Sugar, Orange/Cotton and Peach/Fiesta.
Here's the rotation for the next three years:
Who are the players?
The Selection Committee consists of 13 members, each serving a staggered three-year term. The top criterion for member selection was integrity. The group is comprised of five categories of individuals: people with experience as coaches, student-athletes, administrators, media members and sitting directors of athletics. Current conference commissioners, coaches and media members are excluded from joining the committee.
What are their responsibilities?
The committee will meet throughout the season to rank the top 25 teams in the country and ultimately seed the four-team playoff. They will also assign teams to the Cotton, Fiesta, and Peach Bowls in years when those bowls are not hosting semifinal games.
On Tuesday, October 28, the selection committee will release their first top 25 ranking. New rankings will be released each Tuesday thereafter for the remainder of the season. Once all conference championship games have been played, the committee will select and seed the teams that will play in the semifinals -- all to be revealed on ESPN. Criteria used to rank teams will include conference champions, strength of schedule, win-loss records and head-to-head results, among other factors. It's also worth noting that there will be no conference limits as to which teams are seeded in the playoff nor will there be automatic qualifier (AQ) berths.
What is the recusal policy?
Committee members will be prohibited from participating in votes involving a school's team if they or an immediate family member receives compensation from the school or has a professional relationship with that school. The committee will have the option to add other recusals if special circumstances arise.
So, to recap ...
• An elimination round now exists in college football.
• A selection committee will pick the top 25 teams in the country and seed the playoff.
• Six prestigious bowls will take place on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, broadcasted by ESPN.
• This year, the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl will host the semifinals on New Year's Day.
• This year's National Championship Game will take place in North Texas.