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By Tuesday, college football fans will know the name of the sport's new four-team playoff, which will determine its national championship starting at the end of the 2014 regular season.
By Wednesday, they'll know the site of the first national championship game on Jan. 12, 2015, as well as the cities that will host the two national semifinal games in each of the first three years of the playoff rotation.
And by Thursday, they'll have a better idea of who will make up the selection committee that will be charged with the unenviable task of choosing the four teams that will participate in the playoff each season.
After nearly a year of negotiations, college football's power brokers will meet this week in Pasadena, Calif., to hammer out the final details of the new playoff, which will replace the controversial Bowl Championship Series, which will remain in place this coming season before giving way to a playoff in 2014.
Some of the details have already been announced, but the future playoff's best-kept secret -- what it will actually be called -- will be revealed on Tuesday, according to people familiar with the process. It won't be called the BCS -- an acronym that has been loathed by many college football fans since its inception in 1997 -- but conference commissioners and television executives are expected to settle on a similar simplistic name for the new playoff.
|Cowboys Stadium may be the host of the first national championship playoff game on Jan. 12, 2015.|
On Wednesday, conference commissioners are expected to announce that Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas -- the site of the AT&T Cotton Bowl -- will likely be the host of the first national championship game on Jan. 12, 2015. ESPN previously reported Cowboys Stadium is the "prohibitive favorite" to host the national title game. Tampa was the only other city to bid for the game.
Future national championship games will be bid out to cities on an annual basis, like the NFL does with the Super Bowl. Cities that are part of the semifinal rotation will be eligible to bid for the title game, as well as cities that aren't included in the rotation. Cities won't be allowed to host the national championship game and a semifinal game in the same year, however. Conference commissioners are expected to start taking bids for national title games on Jan. 11, 2016, and Jan. 9, 2017, at some point this summer.
The BCS announced in January that the Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio in Pasadena and the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans will host college football's first national semifinals on Jan. 1, 2015. The Discover Orange Bowl in Miami will also be part of the semifinal rotation. The commissioners also will reveal on Wednesday the three other bowls that will host national semifinals. Sources have told ESPN they will be the AT&T Cotton Bowl in Dallas, the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., and the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta.
The Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl in San Diego was the only other bowl game that bid on hosting a national semifinal game. San Diego probably won't be selected because conference commissioners want the semifinal games to be geographically balanced, and the Fiesta and Rose Bowls are located in the West.
Conference commissioners will decide this week which cities will host semifinal games in 2016 and 2017. According to people familiar with the process, the Orange and Fiesta bowls are the favorites to host semifinals in 2016, while the Chick-fil-A and Cotton bowls will probably be hosts in 2017. That rotation would give the playoff a semifinal game in the East and West in each of the first three years of the playoff rotation.
The most controversial detail to be worked out is the selection committee which will choose the teams to participate in the playoff each year. Under the BCS, the top two teams in the final BCS standings played for the national championship. Under the impending playoff, a selection committee will pick four teams to play in two semifinals with the winners meeting in a national title game.
BCS executive director Bill Hancock said the selection committee would consist of between 14 and 20 members, including at least one individual representing each of the 10 FBS conferences. It is unclear whether each of the 10 conferences will simply designate a representative, and it isn't known how the other four to 10 "at-large" committee members will be selected.
Hancock has said committee members might include former conference commissioners, current and former athletic directors and former football coaches. "We want experienced football purists, experts," Hancock said.
The selection committee will work like the NCAA men's basketball committee, which seeds and selects at-large teams for the 68-team basketball tournament. The football committee will receive a "jury charge" from the commissioners and will be asked to rank teams on the basis of strength of schedule, where the teams' games were played, conference championships and whether teams lost games because of injuries to key players.
Conference commissioners aren't expected to identify potential committee members this week, but they're expected to provide a better understanding of how the selection committee will work.
Under the 12-year deal, 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 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.
ESPN reporter Brett McMurphy contributed to this report.