Army-Navy result won’t affect College Football Playoff selection process for 12-team field

Army-Navy result won’t affect College Football Playoff selection process for 12-team field

IRVING, Texas — The Army-Navy Game will not impact the 12-team College Football Playoff selection process that takes place six days earlier, outgoing CFP executive director Bill Hancock said Wednesday, a change in policy from the four-team format.

The matchup has historically been held on the second Saturday of December, after the CFP releases its final rankings. Academy officials did not want to move the annual rivalry to earlier in the schedule to accommodate the final rankings in the 12-team Playoff era.

Army and Navy had hoped the CFP would consider the idea of seeding 11 of 12 teams and holding out for the Group of 5’s automatic spot if either academy were in the mix as the American Athletic Conference champion. Previously in the four-team CFP/New Year’s Six format, the committee would have had to wait on Army-Navy if either was in the mix for the top four or if Navy could have finished as the highest-ranked Group of 5 conference champion, which nearly happened in 2016. Instead, Navy lost the AAC championship game to end its hopes at a Cotton Bowl bid.

But CFP officials determined this week at their annual spring meetings they couldn’t ask another CFP participant to wait a full week to learn their opponent with a shorter turnaround before the 12-team Playoff began. First-round games on campus will take place one week after Army-Navy.

“There’s a lot of complications of waiting a week in a 12-team playoff and you have a short timeframe,” AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said. “It’s one thing in a four-team and you’re not playing until the end of the month. It’s a lot different playing (two weeks later).”

The new policy does open a scenario where Army or Navy could win the AAC and qualify for the CFP as the top G5 champion, then lose to the other academy six days later and still go on to the CFP.

Army will join the AAC this year as a football-only member, but its annual Navy matchup will remain a nonconference game. That’s due both to the uniqueness of the game on the calendar and the game’s contract with CBS (the AAC has an exclusive contract with ESPN for conference games). If Army and Navy were to both reach the AAC championship, they would play in back-to-back weeks.

• Hancock also said Wednesday that the CFP will not move its three first-round games off the third Saturday in December. Puck had reported the NFL is annoyed that the CFP will hold games on that day, the first Saturday of the year on which NFL games can be played, as allowed by the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961.

“I read that. I don’t see it,” Hancock said. “Could we have played Thursday or more than one game Friday? No great options. Where we settled out was an option ESPN was happy with.”

• Washington athletic director Pat Chun has stepped down from the CFP selection committee as a result of his move from the Washington State AD job. Hancock said the CFP will find a new at-large committee member to serve Chun’s three-year term.

• The CFP also increased its travel budget for team family members from $1.5 million over three games to $7.5 million over 11 games.

(Photo: Danny Wild / USA Today)

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