Back to Articles

The College Football Playoff and the Allstate Sugar Bowl

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


[This story is part four of a series of stories which chronicle the evolution of college football's postseason. A version of this series originally appeared in the Official Game Program for the 2014 Allstate Sugar Bowl.]

Part 1: The Bowls: A Historical Perspective
Part 2: The Father of the BCS
Part 3: Looking Back at the BCS
Part 4: The College Football Playoff and the Allstate Sugar Bowl

The Allstate Sugar Bowl and the College Football PlayoffStarting with the 2014 season, college football will continue its evolution by introducing the College Football Playoff, a new postseason system in which the Allstate Sugar Bowl will play a major role.

For the 2014 season, the Sugar Bowl (Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015, 7:30 p.m.) will be one of the first semifinal games in the new format. In addition to 2015, the Allstate Sugar Bowl will also host semifinal games in 2018, 2021 and 2024. In the other eight years of the 12-year agreement, the Allstate Sugar Bowl will feature the champions of the Southeastern and Big 12 Conferences (unless those teams are selected for the playoff, in which case a replacement team from that league will be selected to the Sugar Bowl).

Sign Up for Exclusive Ticket Information

College Football PlayoffBeginning with the 2014-15 season, college football will enter a new four-team playoff era. The format is simple: the best four teams, two semifinals played in bowl games and a championship game played in a different city each year. It's the best of all worlds and the biggest innovation in the sport in decades.

Every Game CountsThe new playoff preserves the excitement and significance of college football's unique regular season where every game counts.

The Best Four TeamsA selection committee will choose the four teams for the playoff based on body of work, strength of schedule, head-to-head results, comparison of results against common opponents, championships won and other factors.

Best of All WorldsThe new postseason structure creates an exciting four-team playoff that preserves the best regular season in sports and protects America's rich bowl tradition. It goes just the right distance and respects the academic calendar while limiting the number of games played by student-athletes.

A New Year's SpectacleFans will enjoy back-to-back triple-headers. Two semifinals and four other premier bowl games will be played on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day (the Allstate Sugar Bowl will always be played on Jan. 1 at 7:30 p.m., unless Jan 1 is a Sunday, in which case, the game will be played on Jan. 2). Those holidays will belong to college football. Semifinal games will rotate among six different bowls, extending the experience to more fans.

Championship MondayThe championship game will be on Monday night every year.

Site SelectionThe commissioners will select cities to host the Championship Game. A city can host a bowl game and the championship game in the same year. A city cannot, however, host a semifinal and championship game in the same year.

Universal AccessEvery FBS team will have equal access to the playoff based on the team's performance. No conference will qualify automatically.

More RevenueThe popularity of the new format will increase revenue for all conferences and independent institutions.

Conferences Manage the EventThe FBS conferences will manage the College Football Playoff. All 10 conferences are members of the new entity-CFP Administration, LLC. University presidents and chancellors from all 10 conferences and Notre Dame form the Board of Managers and will govern the administrative operations, with commissioners and athletics directors (the Management Committee) managing the event. A small staff in the playoff's office in Irving, Texas, will carry out the detailed responsibilities.

Participants in the Orange, Rose and Sugar BowlsBoth participants in these three bowls are contracted outside the playoff arrangement (Big Ten and Pac-12 to Rose Bowl; SEC and Big 12 to Sugar Bowl; ACC to Orange Bowl against a contracted opponent.) If a conference champion qualifies for the playoff, then the bowl will choose a replacement from that conference. When those bowls host the semifinals and their contracted conference champions do not qualify, then the displaced champion(s) will play in the other New Year's bowls.

Participants in the New Year's Bowls (Fiesta, Cotton, Peach)The participants in these three bowls will be made up of displaced conference champions and the top-ranked champion from a non-contract conference. Highest-ranked available teams will fill any other berths.


Championship Game SitesThe first College Football Playoff Championship Game will be played in Arlington, Texas, at Cowboys Stadium on Jan. 12, 2015, followed by the 2016 title game being in Glendale, Ariz., and the 2017 championship being in Tampa. The sites for the remaining championships are still to be determined.

Selection CommitteeThe College Football Playoff announced its Selection Committee in October. In aggregate, the selection committee members have roughly 230 years of experience in college football. The group includes 10 people who played college football, two former top-level university administrators, five current athletics directors, three members of the College Football Hall of Fame, three former college football head coaches,  a former United States Secretary of State, a former member of Congress, and a retired three-star general.


Selection Committee Responsibilities
  • Select the top four teams, rank them and assign them to semifinals sites.
  • Rank the next group of teams to play in other New Year's bowls if berths are available.
  • Select the highest-ranked champion from the five conferences without New Year's bowl contracts.
  • Assign teams to New Year's bowls
  • Create competitive matchups
  • Attempt to avoid rematches of regular-season games and repeat appearances
  • Consider geography

PrinciplesThe management committee has charged the selection committee to select the teams using a process that distinguishes among otherwise comparable teams by considering:
  • Conference championships won
  • Strength of schedule
  • Head-to-head competition
  • Comparative outcomes of common opponents (without incenting margin of victory)
  • Other relevant factors such as key injuries that may have affected a team's performance during the season or likely would affect its postseason performance.

Voting ProcessThe voting process will include a series of ballots through which the committee members first select a pool of teams to be considered, then rank those teams. Individual ballots will be compiled into a composite ranking.

Number of Teams to Be RankedIt is planned that the committee will rank 25 teams. If no champion of a non-contract conference is among that group of 25 teams, then the committee will rank additional teams.

Assigning Teams to Semifinal SitesWhen assigning the games to the semifinals sites, the committee will place the top seeds at the most advantageous sites, weighing criteria such as convenience of travel for its fans, home-crowd advantage or disadvantage and general familiarity with the host city and its stadium.

Conference LimitsThere will be no limit on the number of teams that may participate from one conference, and matters such as rematches will not be a consideration.

Pairings for Non-Playoff BowlsAll displaced conference champions and the highest ranked champion from a non-contract conference, as ranked by the committee, will participate in selected other bowl games and will be assigned to those games by the committee. If berths in the selected other bowl games remain available after those teams have been identified, the highest ranked other teams, as ranked by the committee, will fill those berths in rank order.

About the Allstate Sugar BowlThe Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier bowl games in the country, having hosted 23 national champions, 86 Hall of Fame players, 46 Hall of Fame coaches and 15 Heisman Trophy winners in its 79-year history. The Bowl will host the 80th Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic on January 2, 2014. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee is involved with various community initiatives through hosting and sponsorships of sporting events, awards and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors over 13,000 student-athletes each year, while injecting over $2 billion into the local economy in the last decade.

-www.AllstateSugarBowl.org-