Playoff committee won't require certain number of conference games
IRVING, Texas -- The College Football Playoff selection committee does not want to dictate how many conference games leagues play.
Playoff executive director Bill Hancock and the FBS conference commissioners are meeting this week at the Four Seasons Hotel Resort of Dallas to work out remaining details of the four-team playoff that will replace the Bowl Championship Series this season.
The first championship game in the new postseason format will be played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
The Southeastern Conference recently announced it will stay with an eight-game league schedule instead of going to nine games. The Pac-12 and Big 12 currently play nine games and the Big Ten is moving to a nine-game conference slate. The Atlantic Coast Conference plays eight league games, plus five of its teams will play Notre Dame each season.
"The [selection] committee will not be in the business of dictating to conferences their scheduling," Hancock said.
Hancock said the "totality" of a team's schedule will be evaluated by the selection committee for its difficulty.
"Every game that everybody plays will be taking into consideration," Hancock said. "To the committee it won't matter whether you played an eight- or nine-game conference schedule. But it will matter who you played for your 12 or 13 games. And, of course, how you did against them."
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said he has been talking to athletic directors and coaches in his conference about how best to schedule if the school has playoff aspirations — and knows similar conversations are going on in the other leagues.
"We don't have to play a murderer's row [out of conference]," Bowlsby said. "You don't have to play three top-20 teams. But you also, if you want to be able to have the tiebreaker between being fifth and being fourth in the playoff selection, you want to have played a representative nonconference schedule."
Hancock also said how a conference determines its champion will not influence the committee. The Big 12, with 10 teams, is the only one of the five power conferences that does not have a championship game. NCAA rules state a conference must have 12 teams to hold a football championship game, but the Big 12 and the Atlantic Coast Conference are in the process of petitioning the NCAA to deregulate how conferences decide a football champion.
Bowlsby said the conference still has no plans to hold a championship game, but would like to at least have the option down the road. The ACC is interested in eliminating the NCAA-mandated divisional format for conferences that play a championship game.
"Whether you won your conference championship by championship game or throughout regular-season play is not going to matter significantly to the committee," Hancock said.
However, Oklahoma's Joe Castiglione, part of the College Football Playoff athletic director advisory group, said he has some concerns about whether not having a championship game will be held against the Big 12 in the selection process.
The differences in how the conferences operate present potential challenges for the selection committee.
"Ideally, we would all run the race on similar course," Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said.
Hancock said the commissioners would like to set a date on when the first in-season ranking will be released by the selection committee and how often the rankings are released. He said around Halloween has been talked about as the date for the first rankings release, and the committee will rank 25 teams.
The committee will also be responsible for picking some teams for the other four New Year's Bowls involved in the new postseason format, along with the top Group of Five conference team, which is guaranteed a spot in one of the six games.