The Bowl Championship Series is dead, as the 2014/15 college football season will usher in the inaugural College Football Playoff. And now, instead of debating which two teams deserve a spot in the national championship game at the end of the season, college football fans will instead be debating which four teams should make up the bracket of the College Football Playoff.
The BCS was established in 1998, and came to an end this past January when Florida State topped Auburn 34-31 in the national championship game. The Seminoles and Tigers had finished in the top two spots in the Bowl Championship Series standings, which mixed computer rankings, the Harris poll, and the Coaches’ poll to determine title game participants.
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The BCS rankings were also used to determine who played in the Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, and Orange Bowl in addition to the national championship game each season.
Starting in 2014/15, however, the BCS has been replaced by the College Football Playoff, which will feature two semifinal matchups that send winners to the new College Football Championship Game. And while the BCS used rankings and polls to determine its standings, the new College Football Playoff will instead use a 13-person committee to select the four teams that will populate the bracket.
That 13-person committee includes several current college athletic directors (Jeff Long of Arkansas, Barry Alvarez of Wisconsin, Pat Haden of USC, Oliver Luck of West Virginia, and Dan Radakovich of Clemson), along with some other former college football executives, coaches, and players (including Archie Manning), and even former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The members of the 13-person committee will all serve limited terms.
The committee will produce the field for the four-team College Football Playoff, seed them, and place them in their semifinal matchups (No. 1 vs. No. 4, and No. 2 vs. No. 3). Those semifinal matchups will then take place at a rotating series of bowl venues, starting this year with the Rose Bowl and the Superdome (Sugar Bowl). The Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl will be the semifinals in 2015/16, and the Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl will be the semifinals in 2016/17. This season’s semifinals in Pasadena and New Orleans will take place January 1.
The Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl winners this season will then advance on to the College Football Championship Game, which will take place on January 12 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The championship game will then be in Glendale in 2016 and in Tampa in 2017 with all games on ESPN – they paid over $7 billion for broadcast rights for the next 12 seasons.
And along with selecting the College Football Playoff participants, the committee will also be responsible for the matchups for the other four bowl games in the rotation – which will be the Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, and Peach Bowl for the 2014/15 season. Those games will have some conference tie-ins plus some at-large teams – as well as at least one school from the “Group of Five” mid-major conferences (AAC, CUSA, MAC, MWC, Sun Belt).