- Brett McMurphy, College football reporter
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DALLAS -- The sites for college football's first national semifinals have been announced. The first championship game site is all but a certainty. The six bowls that will rotate as hosts for the national semifinals are a foregone conclusion.
But the biggest unknown, and perhaps the most controversial decision remaining, concerning college football's impending four-team playoff is simply this -- who will select the teams each year, and how will they be selected?
The BCS commissioners got closer to answering that question following their latest meeting Thursday at the Grand Hyatt Regency Dallas-Fort Worth.
"If you don't get that right (how and who), it's hard to get the rest of it right," Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. "There are a lot of business elements, but generally speaking, you've got to get the competition aspects of it right for it to be 'right.' That's the biggest thing."
BCS executive director Bill Hancock said the selection committee would consist of between 14-20 members, including at least one individual representing each of the 10 FBS conferences.
Finding more than a dozen individuals interested won't be a problem. But finding individuals that are interested and qualified to be on the committee might be a tougher task.
The committee will resemble the NCAA men's basketball tournament's selection committee, except there will be a great deal more pressure and scrutiny on the football committee determining which four teams can compete for the national title.
ACC commissioner John Swofford was jokingly asked if the committee members might have to be in the witness protection program since college football fans have been known to be fanatical.
"Witness protection program: That's been said," Swofford said, laughing.
"There are a lot of great people out there that love the game, that will be able willing and qualified. We want people that know the game and understand the game, that have wisdom, integrity and respect. We're confident those people are out there."
The committee members could come from all walks of life, including former commissioners, former and current athletic directors and former coaches, Hancock said.
"We want experienced football purists, experts," Hancock said.
The selection committee will receive a "jury charge" from the commissioners. In ranking the teams, the committee will consider strength of schedule, where the games were played, conference championships and whether teams lost games because of injuries to key players.
In the playoff, the top four ranked teams -- as determined by the selection committee -- will meet in the semifinals. After those four teams are selected, the league champion or top available team from the Pac-12 and Big Ten will play in the Rose Bowl presented by Vizio, SEC and Big 12 teams in the Allstate Sugar Bowl and ACC in the Discover Orange Bowl.
The commissioners next meet April 23-25 in Pasadena, Calif.
At that time, they are expected to officially announce Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas -- the site of the AT&T Cotton Bowl -- as the site of the first title game on Jan. 12, 2015. ESPN previously reported Cowboys Stadium is the "prohibitive favorite" to host the national title game.
The BCS announced last month the Rose and Sugar Bowls will host college football's first national semifinals on Jan. 1, 2015. The Orange Bowl is also in the semifinal rotation.
The commissioners also likely will reveal in April the three other bowls that will host the semifinals -- sources have told ESPN they would be the Cotton, Tostitos Fiesta and Chick-fil-A bowls -- the name of the new playoff, and how the selection committee will be formed.
Under the 12-year deal, which begins after the 2014 regular season, the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl will be played on every non-Sunday Jan. 1, no matter whether they are hosting the national semifinals.
During the 12-year contract, the Rose and Sugar Bowls will host the semifinals four times. In the years they aren't hosting, the national semifinals would be moved from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, sources said.
The national semifinals will rotate through the six bowl games, setting up two playoff games and four major bowl games each season. The national title game will be bid out each year through a separate process similar to the Super Bowl.
The six games will include three "contract bowls" and three "host bowls." The spots in the contract bowls are reserved for teams that have deals with those bowls.