The number of postseason appearances for the Mountain West will be driven by on-the-field performance, starting with the opportunity to play in the national semifinals or another New Year's Day bowl game as part of the new College Football Playoff arrangement. The highest-rated champion from among the five non-contracted conferences (American, C-USA, MAC, MW, Sun Belt, or chosen by the playoff selection committee) is guaranteed a slot in the system. In the 15 seasons since the league's inception, the Mountain West's champion or a current MW member has secured that position 11 times, placing teams in the Fiesta (2), Rose and Sugar (2) Bowls during that period.
The MW also has agreements with eight (8) different bowl games that in any given year will generate six (6) or seven (7) postseason opportunities for its member institutions. These include primary positions in some or all years with the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Gildan New Mexico Bowl, R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl, San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl and Hawai‘i Bowl - and a secondary position with the TicketCity Cactus Bowl.
The Mountain West will collaborate with the bowl partners to place all eligible teams with consideration given to matchup, geography and historical considerations (e.g., last time a team participated in any bowl or a particular bowl). NOTE: The MW is the primary backup for the TicketCity Cactus Bowl if the Big 12 or Pac-12 does not fill.
Beginning with the 2014-15 season, college football will enter a new era when a postseason playoff will begin. The format is simple: top four teams, two semifinals played in bowl games, and a national championship game played in a different city each year. Each semifinal will be played during the New Year's holiday with the national championship game in prime time on a Monday night at least a week later.
A selection committee will choose the four teams for the playoff based on their performances during the regular season, including strength of schedule, head-to-head results, championships won, and other factors. The teams will be seeded so that #1 will play #4 in one semifinal and #2 will meet #3 in the other, with the winners advancing to the national championship game.
The semifinals will rotate among six different bowls, extending the experience to more fans. In the years when the bowls are not hosting semifinals, the bowls will feature eight other teams in four compelling matchups.