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College Football Playoffs: What the heck are they?

Here's a simple intro to the college football playoffs poll.

Kevin C. Cox

Tomorrow night, the long-awaited inaugural College Football Playoff Poll will be released. Now, I know what you're thinking, and you're right: the Ags have virtually no chance at making the the playoffs this year. None. (h/t Chip Brown for that bit of emphasis rhetoric.) Now that that's out of the way, it is still very much in our power to impact who makes the playoffs, and of course, wild speculation is half the fun of college football in the first place.

So what is this Playoff Committee all about?

Good question. First, the Committee itself. It is made up of 12 members (it is normally 13, but Archie Manning will be sitting out this year as he recovers from surgery):

  • Chairman Jeff Long, Arkansas athletic director
  • Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin athletic director and former head coach
  • Mike Gould, former Air Force superintendent
  • Pat Haden, USC athletic director
  • Tom Jernstedt, former NCAA executive
  • Oliver Luck, West Virginia athletic director
  • Tom Osborne, former Nebraska head coach and athletic director
  • Dan Radakovich, Clemson athletic director
  • Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state
  • Mike Tranghese, former Big East commissioner
  • Steve Wieberg, former USA Today reporter
  • Ty Willingham, former FBS head coach

A complete detailed documentation of the committee's process can be found here. The committee will meet to discuss and compile rankings of not only the top four spots, but upwards of the top 30 spots in the beginning. As Jason Kirk points out, the process and criteria are not without their flaws, and it will no doubt be an ongoing learning experience that will hopefully grow organically with time. For better or worse, it's a panel of quote-unquote experts that's going to play a large role in deciding a college football champion.

Can the Aggies still make the Playoff?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA NO. Well, I many things would have to go awry for so many different teams that it boggles the mind. Basically every currently-ranked team would have to have a November like our October, and I don't even think that's mathematically possible within the spatial limits of our universe.

Can two SEC teams still make the Playoff?

They can. Maybe. I guess there's only one way to find out. If Mississippi State goes 12-0 but loses a close one to Georgia in the SECCG, both teams will be 12-1 and the likelihood is pretty good they'd both be considered. A Florida State loss would help both of their cases tremendously, obviously.

Can two SEC West teams still make the Playoff?

This is where it gets a little trickier. With the Ole Miss loss to LSU, the chance at having two 11-0 teams squaring off in the Egg Bowl is out the window. The possibility of having two 11-1 teams following the regular season is still out there, and of course, Mississippi State is definitely in if they win out.

How can the Aggies affect the Playoff?

Simple: we just have to go on the road and beat Auburn. No, really. Don't laugh. Guys. Guys?

A 2-loss team would most likely have an extremely difficult time making the Playoff, especially if their loss came late in the season. THAT BEING SAID: if any 2-loss team were to theoretically have a shot at consideration, it might be one that lost a couple of games earlier in the season and followed that with some high-quality wins, like #3 Ole Miss and #4 Alabama. If LSU were 9-2 heading into the Thanksgiving game after knocking off the Tide, and Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Auburn each drop one in the meantime, they could be a playoff dark horse. Then we'd have to beat them on the field to affect the playoffs in that way as well. Wait. Stop. Why is everyone laughing so much?

Of course, these are only a few scenarios that could all fly out the window on any given gameday. Like they often do.

Will it be better than the BCS?

Well, we all hope so. If nothing else, we will be able to look back at each season and say the four best teams played each other for the championship. Now whether or not those really are the four best teams is still going to be a huge point of contention for a lot of folks. But there will be that extra proving ground.  So much of this conjecture is pure speculation at this point, because we don't have any way of knowing how the playoff is actually going to work. All we have are the guidelines on paper and an idea of who's making the decisions.

Imagine that all the comments sections on all the playoff articles loosely mirror the actual discussions within the committee meeting rooms and you realize that being on that committee really is like having an actual job: no one will ever be completely satisfied with all your hard work. But at the end of the day at least there are discussions being had instead of a system of mysterious computers. Those discussions just happen to be dictated by the most unpredictable computer on the planet: the human mind. What could possiblie go wrong?

SB Nation's College Football Playoff Hub