It's a huge day for college football fans. Tuesday night on ESPN, the first College Football Playoff rankings will be unveiled. The show is set to begin at 7:30 P.M. EST, though we aren't exactly sure when during the program the committee will unveil its all-important list.
How will the 12-person committee figure out which teams make up the top-25? Nobody has any idea of how closely it will mirror the AP and Coaches' Polls, or if it will mirror those two polls at all. According to the College Football Playoff website, the two polls are not supposed to influence the selection committee -- which is made up of current and former university administrators, former college football coaches, one former NCAA employee and one former college football reporter.
Instead, there is a five-step process to decide the committee's top-25. According to the College Football Playoff website, it looks like this:
- All 12 committee members will rank the top-25 teams in America.
- Every member will name which teams constitute their six best teams in America, in no particular order.
- From there, everyone will then rank their top six teams based on the list of squads they provided in the previous step. The three teams that receive the fewest points will move onto the next step of the process.
- After that, the committee will list the six best remaining teams in no particular order. The three teams that get the most votes will be added to the three teams from the previous round for the next ranking step.
- The committee will keep repeating steps three and four until we have a top-25.
Confused? Don't be. Think of it this way: the top-25 will be figured out in multiple rounds of voting and deliberation by committee members. At the end of the season, this process will be a lot easier: step three will make up the three best teams in the College Football Playoff, and the best team to make it out of step four will be the team ranked fourth.
This leads us to the biggest question, which is how exactly committee members will rank teams. Basically, there are four main factors that the committee is supposed to consider: championships won, strength of schedule, head-to-head competition and comparative outcomes of common opponents. Of course, it's a bit tough to rank teams based on championships won and head-to-head competition until the season ends, but right now there's a clear enough picture to make an informed ranking.
Also remember that at the end of the season, the committee will also be asked to consider other relevant factors. For example, if Florida State is the No. 1 team in America, but QB Jameis Winston gets injured in the ACC Championship game and is ruled out for the remainder of the season, it will almost certainly impact the Seminoles' ranking.
There will be seven of these rankings, released on the following days: Oct. 28, Nov. 4, Nov. 11, Nov. 18, Nov. 25, Dec. 2 and Dec. 7, with the final one determining which teams will compete for a national title.
Tuesday night will be our first chance to get a glimpse into how the committee ranks the 25 best teams in America, and it will be our best look into which teams will play for a title at the end of the season. Make sure you tune into ESPN tonight at 7:30 P.M. EST to find out, or check back here after the rankings come out.