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CFB Playoff Selections

When comparing two teams with the same record, the Elite Program will get in over the non-elite program.

Ten years into the College Football Playoff, and all the committee’s selections have happened according to the Eliteness system described on this site. Eliteness continues to accurately explain our collective perception of why we think one team is more deserving than another. Below are the CFP Committee selections along with comparisons of the media reasoning at the time vs. the Eliteness system of why these teams were chosen. You decide which is closer to the truth.

I explained in the post at the top of the front page why it has to work this way. Until we can all honestly accept that previous year’s results matter, there will be both controversy and the false appearance of injustice.

Here are the 10 years of the CFP Playoff committee’s selections and seeding.


  • Playoff Teams: 1. Alabama 12-1 (Elite), 2. Oregon 12-1 (Elite), 3. Florida State 13-0 (Elite), 4. Ohio State 12-1 (Elite)
  • Left Out: 5. Baylor 11-1 (Non-Elite), 6. TCU 11-1 (Non-Elite)

Media Perspective: Ohio State got in over Baylor and TCU because “the Big 12 doesn’t have a championship game.” The very next year that logic would not hold up.

Eliteness: 4 Elite Programs were selected over 2 Non-Elite Programs. Elite Program, Ohio State, is selected even while starting their 3rd string QB. 9 years later this would be the reasoning for rejecting a non-elite.


  • Playoff Teams: 1. Clemson 13-0 (Non-Elite), 2. Alabama 12-1 (Elite) 3. Michigan State 12-1 (Elite)  4. Oklahoma 11-1 (Elite)
  • Left Out: 5. Iowa 12-1 (Non-Elite) 6. Stanford 11-2 (Elite)

Media Perspective: Oklahoma gets in over Iowa, even without there being a Big 12 Championship game. Iowa was left out because they lost the Big 10 Championship game. The very next year that logic would not hold up.

Eliteness: Non-elite Clemson was the only undefeated team. 3 Elite Programs with 1 loss were selected over a Non-Elite with 1 loss and Stanford, an Elite Program with 2 losses.


  • Playoff Teams: 1. Alabama 13-0 (Elite), 2. Clemson 12-1 (Elite), 3. Ohio State 11-1 (Elite) 4. Washington 12-1 (Non-Elite)
  • Left Out: 5. Penn State 11-2 (Non-Elite), 6. Michigan 10-2 (Non-Elite)

Media Perspective: Split on this one after non-division winner, Ohio State, got in over Big 10 Champion, Penn State, whom they lost to on the field. Then on top of that, they are the #3 seed over Pac 12 Conference Champion, Washington. In the CFP you saw Clemson blow out Ohio State 31-0.

Eliteness: This year may be the most validating for the system. Elite Program and non-division winner, Ohio State, gets in over a team they lost to on the field, non-elite conference champ Penn State. Ohio State is also seeded ahead of Pac-12 Championship Game winner and non-elite, Washington. Just a perfect example of how Eliteness works.


  • Playoff Teams: 1. Clemson 12-1 (Elite) 2. Oklahoma 12-1 (Elite) 3. Georgia 12-1 (Non-Elite) 4. Alabama 11-1 (Elite)
  • Left Out: 5. Ohio State 11-2 (Elite), 6. Wisconsin 12-1 (Non-Elite)

Media Perspective: Split on this one. Non-division winner, Alabama, in the exact same position that Ohio State was in the previous year, gets in over Big 10 Champion, Ohio State, and runner up, Wisconsin.

Eliteness: A non-division winning Elite Program (Bama) with 1 loss gets in over an Elite Program with 2 losses in Ohio State and a Non-Elite division winner with 1 loss in Wisconsin. Unlike Michigan St. in 2015 and Ohio St. in 2016, who got in with 1 loss from the Big 10, Wisconsin is not an Elite Program and is left out. Georgia, a non-elite, gets in over Wisconsin as the champion of the EP at #4’s conference.


  • Playoff Teams: 1. Alabama 13-0 (Elite), 2. Clemson 13-0 (Elite), 3. Notre Dame 12-0 (Non-Elite), 4. Oklahoma 12-1 (Elite)
  • Left Out: 5. Georgia 11-2 (Elite) 6. Ohio State 12-1 (Elite)

Media Perspective: Most college football fans probably thought Georgia was the 2nd or 3rd best team, but OU and Notre Dame got in over them. Some in the media (including Herbstreit) think leaving a 2nd SEC team out was a move the committee made to “save the CFP system.” This is one year after they did put 2 SEC teams in and they both won in the semi-finals and made the championship game. Ohio State was a distant #6 seed.

Eliteness: You have 2 undefeated Elite Programs as the #1 and #2 seeds. An undefeated non-elite, Notre Dame, and a 1 loss Elite Program, Oklahoma, got in over a 2-loss elite program, Georgia and 1-loss Elite Big Ten Champ, Ohio St.


  • Playoff teams: 1. LSU 13-0 (Elite), 2. Ohio State 13-0 (Elite), 3. Clemson 13-0 (Elite), 4. Oklahoma 12-1 (Elite)
  • Left Out: 5. Georgia 11-2 (Elite), 6. Oregon 11-2 (Elite)

Media Perspective: No controversy this year. The right teams made it in.

Eliteness: 3 undefeated Elite Programs made it in as the top 3 seeds. Another Elite Program, Oklahoma, was the only 1-loss team from a Power 5 Conference and made it in as the #4 seed. Two 2-loss Elite Programs were left out.


  • Playoff teams: 1. Alabama 11-0 (Elite), 2. Clemson 10-1 (Elite), 3. Ohio State 6-0 (Elite), 4. Notre Dame 10-1 (Non-Elite)
  • Left Out: 5. Texas A&M 8-1 (Non-Elite) 6. Oklahoma 8-2 (Elite)

Media Perspective: Covid shortened season. Does Ohio State deserve to be in when they only played 6 games?

Eliteness: Ohio State gets in as an undefeated Elite Program. Notre Dame beat Elite Clemson in the regular season and Clemson must be in as a 1-loss Elite. A&M got blown out by Elite Alabama in their loss. Therefore, non-elite ND squeaks in over non-elite A&M.


  • Playoff teams: 1. Alabama 12-1 (Elite), 2. Michigan 12-1 (Non-Elite), 3. Georgia 12-1 (Non-Elite), 4. Cincinnati 13-0 (Non-Elite)
  • Left Out: 5. Notre Dame 11-1 (Non-Elite), 6. Ohio St. 10-2 (Elite)

Media Perspective: The right teams made it in, but a 1-loss “Oklahoma State (Non-Elite) would’ve made it in over Cincinnati if they won the Big 12 Championship game.” Michigan and Ohio St. winner was going to be in.

Eliteness Perspective: Only one Elite Program finished with 1 loss or less. Cincy has a better record (and beat Notre Dame in the regular season), so they are in over them.


  • Playoff teams: 1. Georgia 13-0 (Elite), 2. Michigan 13-0 (Non-Elite), 3. TCU 12-1 (Non-Elite), 4. Ohio State 11-1 (Elite)
  • Left Out: #5 Alabama 10-2 (Elite), #6 Tennessee 10-2 (Non-Elite)

Media Perspective: Georgia, Michigan, and TCU were no-brainers. Alabama lost 2 games and played in some other close games, so they are unworthy this year. Ohio State lost 1 game, to Michigan, so they’re in.

Eliteness: Non-elites Michigan and TCU have better records than Alabama. Still, Alabama is an Elite Program and gets some public support over non-elites. Tennessee beat Alabama and has the same record. Yet, Alabama is ranked higher and a more serious playoff participant than Tennessee because they are an Elite Program.


  • Playoff Teams: 1. Michigan 13-0 (Elite), 2. Washington 13-0 (Non-Elite), 3. Texas 12-1 (Elite), 4. Alabama 12-1 (Elite)
  • Left Out: 5. Florida State 13-0 (Non-Elite), 6. Georgia 12-1 (Elite)

Media Perspective: The CFB Playoff Committee Chairman, Boo Corrigan, said that the injury to FSU’s star QB, Jordan Travis, dropped undefeated FSU below one loss Alabama. After seeing two games without Travis, FSU was no longer one of the 4 best teams.

Eliteness: 12-1 Elite Programs, Texas and Alabama, were selected over 13-0 Non-Elite, Florida State. This is the first time an undefeated power 5 program was left out of the playoff. FSU had defeated two SEC teams. We’ve seen the injured QB situation where an Elite Program wasn’t punished like this. In 2014, 1-loss Elite Program, Ohio State, was down to their 3rd string QB. They were selected as the #4 seed over two 1-loss Non-Elite Programs (Baylor & TCU). They also won the National Championship, which sets a precedent for why FSU should be in over Texas and Alabama. Instead, we have a case of two Elite Programs being given even more of an advantage than we usually see over a Non-Elite.