College Football Playoff committee rankings Q&A

Explaining The College Football Playoff
Explaining The College Football Playoff

The College Football Playoff selection committee will unveil the first of seven top 25 rankings on Tuesday night, the first step toward setting the field for the national semifinals to be played New Year's Day at Sugar Bowl in New Orleans and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

Some frequently asked questions about the committee, the rankings and playoff:

Q: How does the committee rank the teams? Is it like the AP Top 25?

A: No, the process is nothing like the AP college football poll, where voters submit ballots and the teams are ranked using a points system. The committee will create small groups of teams, debate their merits and rank the teams using as many votes as needed to come up with a consensus.

Q: Why top 25? The playoff only has four teams.

A: The committee will also create the matchups and pick some of the teams to play in the four other bowl games involved in the playoff rotation. Those games are the Cotton Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl and the Peach Bowl. Those teams will be chosen using the highest ranked teams after the playoff matchups have been set and considering the contracts certain conferences have with certain bowls. Also, the committee is responsible for choosing the best team from the Group 5 conferences - the American Athletic Conference, Mountain West, Sun Belt, Conference USA and the Mid-American Conference - which is guaranteed a spot in one of the New Year's bowls, no matter how far down the rankings.

Q: Who is on this committee?

A: The panel is made up of twelve members: Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long, committee chairman; Southern California athletic director Pat Haden; Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich; Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez; West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck; Former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne; Former Stanford, Notre Dame and Washington coach Tyrone Willingham; Former Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese; Former NCAA vice president Tom Jernstedt; Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Former USA Today sports writer Steve Wieberg and Former Air Force superintendent and retired Lieutenant General Mike Gould. Former Mississippi quarterback Archie Manning was part of the committee, but recently had to step down because of some health issues. He will not be replaced.

Q: Where will they be meeting?

A: A resort hotel in Grapevine, Texas, just outside of Dallas.

Q: When will the rankings be released?

A: Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN for the next six weeks. The final rankings and pairings for the playoff and four other New Year's bowls will be released Sunday, Dec. 7 at around 12:30 p.m.

Q: What should we expect?

A: Hard to say. The most interesting thing about the first rankings could be how similar they are to the AP and coaches' polls. However it turns out, it's important to remember there are a lot of games to be played and there is a good chance at least two of the teams in the first top four won't make the playoff.