The winner of the American Athletic Conference will almost certainly claim the Group of Five slot in the College Football Playoff’s New Year’s Six bowl rotation (either the Peach or Fiesta this year) and, right now, Navy is among the teams seriously in the running to claim the AAC title.
After all, the Midshipmen dispatched Memphis Saturday night, which means all that’s required to appear in the AAC title games are wins over SMU, Tulsa and Houston. Win those games and Navy will head to the AAC championship. Win that and they’ll head straight to… a regular season game with Army.
Unlike the BCS, the College Football Playoff has decided to include the Army-Navy game in its evaluation of those two teams. Which means the Army-Navy game, played six days after Selection Sunday, could become a problem for the CFP powers that be.
On Tuesday, CFP executive director Bill Hancock laid out how his selection committee would handle an AAC champion Navy in a memo obtained by USA Today.
As you are aware, Navy’s victory over Memphis kindled interest in the CFP policy that the management committee adopted in June. We had advised folks of the policy at that time — that the pairings announcement could be delayed only to the extent necessary to allow the committee to consider how the result of the Army-Navy game might affect Army’s or Navy’s ranking.
Here is the information that the selection committee reviewed today.
Summary — If the committee believes the result of the Army-Navy game could affect Army’s or Navy’s ranking and therefore its place in the playoff or its selection as the group of five representative, only the pairings that affect Army and Navy would be delayed until after the Army-Navy game.
Business as usual on Sunday, December 6 — The committee will rank the teams 1-through-25 and will publicly issue those rankings on December 6 as usual. Army and Navy will be ranked according to their performances to date. If Army or Navy is not in contention for the playoff nor to be the “group of five” representative, the committee would announce all the bowl pairings.
Bowl pairings announcement December 6 — If Army or Navy is in contention to be the “group of five” representative, and not for the playoff, the committee would announce the following on December 6: (1) the top 25 rankings, (2) the semifinal pairings and bowl sites, (3) the pairing for one of the new year’s six bowl games—either Fiesta or Peach, and (4) one participant in the other new year’s six bowl game, holding the other spot in that game for the “group of five” representative. If Army or Navy is in contention for the playoff, the committee would not announce any bowl pairings December 6.
Committee meeting Saturday, December 12, if necessary — If Army or Navy is in contention, the selection committee would convene by teleconference Saturday evening, December 12, after conclusion of the Army-Navy game. At that time it would determine if it is necessary to revise a segment of its December 6 rankings relative to Army or Navy and, if necessary, it would revise the rankings accordingly. The committee plans to announce the results on ESPN Saturday night, December 12.
Seems simple enough, right? The CFP will slot the two semifinals, Rose (highest-ranked remaining Big Ten and Pac-12 representatives) and Sugar bowls (ditto for the SEC and Big 12), then three of the four at-large slots in the Peach or Fiesta bowls. If Navy beats Army, they’ll slot the Middies into the final remaining slot. If they don’t, they’ll pull another team.
Just what other team that ends up being, and the domino effect that could cause on the entire bowl system, remains to be seen.