- Brett McMurphy, College football reporter
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PASADENA, Calif. -- College Football Playoff will be the name of the four-team playoff, which begins after the 2014 regular season.
Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, will be awarded the College Football Playoff's first national championship game, to be held Jan. 12, 2015.
Also, the Fiesta, Cotton and Chick-fil-A bowls will join the Rose, Sugar and Orange bowls in the six-bowl semifinal rotation for the new playoff.
The site of the title game in the first season of the new four-team event was discussed Tuesday by BCS commissioners. Tampa, Fla., and Arlington were the only two cities that bid for the game.
Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff, said Arlington was awarded the first game over Tampa because of Cowboys Stadium, which can hold more than 100,000 fans.
"The stadium itself [was the main reason], everything about the stadium," Hancock said. "It's still the stadium with a capital 'T.'
"Tampa was very close; we were very impressed. Tampa won a lot of hearts and minds of the commissioners."
Hancock said the first year of the College Football Playoff will feature back-to-back tripleheaders on Dec. 31 (Cotton, Orange, Fiesta bowls) and Jan. 1 (Chick-fil-A, Rose, Sugar). The Rose and Sugar bowls will be the national semifinals.
"The culture of New Year's Eve will change in this country," Hancock said.
ESPN paid an average of $470 million annually for the rights to the 12-year College Football Playoff, sources said.
Rob Higgins, executive director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, said Tampa would bid again for the 2016 and 2017 title games.
"We're not letting our foot off the gas," Higgins said. "Our work toward 2016 or 2017 begins right now."
ACC commissioner John Swofford said Tampa "got themselves on the radar" for future title games.
This summer, the College Football Playoff will start accepting bids for the Jan. 11, 2016, and Jan. 9, 2017, championship games, sources said.
Hancock said it would be a long shot for a cold-weather, non-domed stadium to get a future title game.
Hancock confirmed an ESPN report that the Chick-fil-A Bowl would become the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl as part of the playoff.
Robert Shelton, executive director of the Fiesta Bowl, was relieved the Fiesta was chosen as one of the six semifinal bowls.
"Relief," Shelton said. "Everyone saying don't worry, you're in. But we wanted to hear it from the powers to be."
Shelton said Glendale, Ariz., and University of Phoenix Stadium would bid for the 2016 national title game. The Fiesta Bowl will host the 2017 national semifinals.
"We couldn't be more excited about bringing college football's biggest game to Cowboys Stadium," Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. "Rest assured, we all pledge to do everything we can to make sure this game exceeds everyone's highest expectations."
"Our ultimate goal has always been to shine the spotlight on the great sport of college football while supporting higher education, and creating memories that will last a lifetime," said Rick Baker, the president/CEO of the AT&T Cotton Bowl.
"This is one of the great days in the 78-year history of the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic," said Tommy Bain, chairman of the AT&T Cotton Bowl. "Our dream and vision has been to return to the top of the college football landscape."
The official vote and announcement of the first title game and semifinal sites were made Wednesday from the Langham Hotel in Pasadena.
The semifinal rotation has been determined as follows: The Rose (Pasadena) and Sugar (New Orleans) bowls will host the semifinals in 2015, the Orange (Miami) and Cotton (Arlington) bowls will host in 2016, and the Fiesta (Glendale) and Chick-fil-A (Atlanta) bowls will host in 2017. They will keep that rotation through January 2026.
During the 12-year College Football Playoff contract, the semifinals will be at:
• Rose and Sugar bowls: Jan. 1, 2015; Jan. 1, 2018; Jan. 1, 2021; and Jan. 1, 2024.
• Orange and Cotton bowls: Dec. 31, 2015; Dec. 31, 2018; Dec. 31, 2021; and Dec. 31, 2024.
• Fiesta and Chick-fil-A bowls: Dec. 31, 2016; Dec. 31, 2019; Dec. 31, 2022; and Dec. 31, 2025.
The Orange, Cotton, Fiesta and Chick-fil-A bowls are not held on Jan. 1 because the Rose and Sugar bowls are guaranteed to be played on Jan. 1 or Jan. 2 every year even if those bowls are not hosting the national semifinals.
The Holiday Bowl was the only other bowl to bid for a semifinal site.
The championship game dates (all played on Mondays) are: Jan. 12, 2015; Jan. 11, 2016; Jan. 9, 2017; Jan. 8, 2018; Jan. 7, 2019; Jan. 13, 2020; Jan. 11, 2021; Jan. 10, 2022; Jan. 9, 2023; Jan. 8, 2024; Jan. 13, 2025; and Jan. 12, 2026.
On Tuesday, the commissioners announced the name for the four-team playoff. This season marks the final season of the Bowl Championship Series. For months, the commissioners said they wanted a simple name for the new playoff.
"We decided to call the playoff what it is -- the College Football Playoff," Hancock said. "We think the new playoff will be the most dynamic improvement to college football in a generation. Certainly, it's what the fans want. We also invite everyone to vote online to select the logo and help us kick off the new College Football Playoff."
Besides landing the inaugural College Football Playoff championship game, Cowboys Stadium will host the NCAA men's Final Four nine months earlier, on April 5 and 7, 2014.
In years the Rose, Sugar and Orange bowls do not host the national semifinals, they will get the highest-ranked team from their respective conference tie-ins: Rose (Pac-12 vs. Big Ten), Sugar (SEC vs. Big 12) and Orange (ACC vs. highest-ranked from SEC/Big Ten/Notre Dame).
The playoff also initiated voting for the logo for the series, which will continue through Monday. Although individual computers may vote only once a day, an individual with an IP address in Austin, Texas, cast 50,251 votes for Logo No. 4. Before those votes were taken out, Logo No. 4 had more than 52 percent of the vote.
3hThomas McKean, ESPN Stats & Information