Originally Published on Nov. 7, 2017;
Updated: (1) Nov. 14, 2017 (Post-rankings); (2) Nov. 26, 2017; (3) Dec. 3, 2017 (Post-final rankings); (4) Nov. 29, 2018; (5) Dec. 12, 2018 (Post-final rankings); (6) Dec. 8, 2019.
This post has not yet been completely edited or finalized due to the nature of the constantly-changing information it contains. I am posting it as a rough-draft in order to make sure the information is relevant and timely. I will try and update this post as necessary; please bare with me as the in-season information is constantly changing.
As of September 10, 2020:
To date, 24 teams have been selected for the first six playoffs. Of those 24 teams, 21 have been undefeated, or 1-loss, Power-5 conference champions. Of the other 3 remaining teams, two of those were 1-loss Power-5 teams that did not play in their conference championship game; and one was an undefeated independent team (Notre Dame). No Power-5 team with two or more losses has been selected (regardless of their status as a conference champion); and no team from the “Group of Five” (or G5) has been selected.
CONTENTS OF THIS POST
Below you will find a break-down of each of the CFP selections starting with the first in 2014. Under each year you will find:
- a break-down of the top 4;
- a discussion regarding the selection for that year; and
- a follow-up discussion after the CFP is over and how it played out.
You will also find (typically) a running discussion that evaluates the precedent of the CFP selection which is usually written at the time of that year’s selection and is therefore not updated later if the information changes. For example, under a particular year, like 2017, it may say that only 2 & 4 seeds have won the CFP. If a number 1 seed later wins the CFP in 2019, I have likely not gone back and updated the statement from 2017 (so read the 2017 statement as a fact that was true at that particular time). I have tried to make these year-by-year sections fairly similar so that they are easy to compare, but that has not worked out as perfectly as I had hoped.
Next, after all of the CFP years have been discussed, there is another discussion that follows. It is primarily a discussion of what has happened in all CFP selections, or a synthesis of information. In other words, some may find it helpful to skip to that section if you are not interested in reading the year-by-year breakdown. I believe I titled that section “Precedent & History.”
Finally, there is a “Legend” at the very end. However, having the legend at the bottom worked great when this post first started (as it was fairly short); however, I am now including it here at the top so that you will see it before you go through the post (and so that you won’t have to scroll to the bottom in order to figure out what the symbols mean).
- CFP = College Football Playoff.
- SOS = Strength of Schedule
- Bold = CFP National Champion.
- * = Runner-up / Lost National Championship Game.
- # = Conference Champion, but not via a Conference Championship Game.
- & = Non-Conference Champion.
This post reviews what has happened in prior CFP decisions, tries to digest those decisions into some kind of logical explanation, and then considers possible scenarios for future CFP selections. While I don’t believe the CFP Committee wants there to be a “precedent” that would dictate how a particular CFP decision should go, it is fascinating to watch the decision making process as it plays out. Also, whether they like it or not, if the Committee takes a particular course of action over and over, or makes the same type of decision based on the same criteria, they are effectively setting some kind of precedent. It may not be precedent that they are required to follow, but reversing course and making decisions that are completely contrary to their own prior decisions (with no logical explanation) will have potential negative effects on the CFP.