A point-by-point, not-so-quick explanation of the College Football Playoff.

  • Six bowls are involved in the rotation. This season, the Rose and Sugar will host the semifinals. Next season, the Cotton and Orange get their shot, then the Fiesta and Peach. In 2017, the rotation starts over.

    The championship game, played on a Monday -- this year, it's Jan. 12 at Cowboys Stadium -- is not part of the rotation. It's a separate entity with a bid process all its own.

  • The rotation bowls that aren't involved in the semifinals in a given year will host major matchups on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, combining with the semifinals to form back-to-back triple-headers.

  • The selection committee will create the pairings not only for the semifinals (based on its final rankings) but also the other four rotation bowls, with an emphasis on competitive matchups and the geography.

  • The major conferences will continue to send their champions to contracted bowls if that team isn't involved in the playoffs: the Big Ten and Pac-12 champs to the Rose; the Big 12 and SEC champs to the Sugar; and the ACC champ to the Orange.

    When a contracted bowl is hosting a semifinal, the league champ will be sent to one of the four other major bowls (unless it's involved in the playoff).

    Examples:

    1. If the Pac-12 champ qualifies for the playoffs this season, it would be slotted into either the Rose or Sugar, depending on the placement of the seeds (1 vs 4, 2 vs 3).


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    2. If the Pac-12 champ doesn't qualify for the playoffs, it would be sent to the Fiesta, Cotton or Peach. (The Orange is locked up by contracts.)

    3. Next year ... when the Rose Bowl isn't a semifinal host ... the Pac-12 champ will head to Pasadena, per usual, unless it qualifies for the playoff.

    In that situation, the Rose could choose a replacement team from the Pac-12.

    Note: There is no limit to the number of teams a conference can send to the New Year's Eve/New Year's Day games (so expect to see three or four from the SEC every year!).

    Also note: The highest-ranked team from outside the Power Five leagues will also be eligible to participate in the semifinals or rotation bowls, with the location and opponent to be determined by the committee.

    Speaking of ...

  • The 13-member committee is football's version of the men's basketball tournament selection committee: It will rank the teams, seed the four playoff participants, and set the matchups for the four rotation bowls.

    The first rankings will be released Oct. 28, then every subsequent Tuesday for five weeks.

    The final rankings -- the ones that matter -- will be announced on Dec. 7, bowl selection day.

  • The committee's stated goal is to select the four best teams, with heavy emphasis placed on conference titles, head-to-head results, results against common opponents and strength of schedule.

    But you can be sure not everyone will agree with the committee's definition of "best."

  • The committee:

    Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin athletic director (and former coach)

    Mike Gould, former Superintendent of Air Force Academy

    Pat Haden, USC athletic director

    Tom Jernstedt, former NCAA executive vice president

    Jeff Long, Arkansas athletic director (committee chair)

    Oliver Luck, West Virginia athletic director

    Archie Manning, former Mississippi quarterback

    Tom Osborne, former Nebraska coach and athletic director

    Dan Radakovich, Clemson athletic director

    Condoleezza Rice, Stanford professor

    Mike Tranghese, former Big East commissioner

    Steve Wieberg, former USA Today reporter

    Tyrone Willingham, former Stanford, Notre Dame and Washington coach

  • Committee members must recuse themselves when the discussion turns to current or past employers.

    Haden, for instance, must leave the room if USC is being discussed; the same goes for Rice when Stanford is on the table; or Manning with Ole Miss.

    All told, nine of the 13 members will be subject to recusal. The four who aren't: Willingham, Wieberg, Tranghese and Jernstedt.