The College Football Playoff Selection Committee has always had a difficult job when it comes to selecting and seeding the CFP, as well as choosing the participants for the other four New Year's Six bowl games. That process starts with the committee creating its own top 25 rankings which determine the pool of teams available for those games.
Unlike in college basketball, there really isn't a lot of reliable and meaningful data with which to work in college football. The committee is provided with a strength of schedule ranking along with some relative offensive and defensive statistics, all of which it uses to guide a mostly subjective process.
Those statistics measure the pool of 130 FBS teams using games played against one another. Nonconference games are what interconnect those teams for the purposes of statistical analysis.
That's going to be a problem this season.
The Big Ten and Pac-12 have already gotten out of the pool, and others may soon follow.
On July 9, the Big Ten announced that it would play a conference-only schedule this season -- if it plays at all -- eliminating 42 games from its teams' schedules. On July 11, the Pac-12 followed suit, ditching 36 nonconference games.
It is possible that Big Ten and Pac-12 will add more conference games to fill out their schedules, but it is highly unlikely that those teams will play a full 12-game regular season schedule. A full round robin for the Pac-12 would only be 11 games each, for example.
Regardless of how many intraleague games those teams play, they cannot be included in any of the statistical tools used by the CFP Selection Committee when it comes to their evaluation process.
Teams from the Big Ten and Pac-12 will only be measured against those in their respective conferences because they play no games outside of their groups. And any attempt to use any sophisticated analytics within those leagues would only have a relative handful of games from which to source data, making such analysis unreliable.
The committee will still have to include the league champions of the Big Ten and Pac-12 in the New Year's Six games, but when it comes to ranking teams from those conferences among the other 104 FBS teams, it will be strictly based on eye test and guess work.
The other Power Five conferences -- the SEC, ACC and Big 12 -- have yet to make decisions about the upcoming season, but many have already lost some nonconference games not only to Big Ten and Pac-12 teams but also to teams from the handful of FCS conferences so far that have decided not to play football this season.
It is believed that these three conferences are looking to coordinate their schedules due to multiple major nonconference games that annually scheduled between the leagues, particularly the SEC and ACC. It is almost a given that they will all decide to play shortened seasons, but there's a chance that long-term rivalry games -- such as Florida vs. Florida State and Clemson vs. South Carolina – will remain.
The way things are going, if we get a season at all in 2020, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee may find itself doing little more than pulling names out of a hat.