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Everything You Need To Know About College Football’s New Playoff

Alabama celebrates its national championship. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Alabama celebrates its national championship. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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(AP) A committee of university presidents approved a plan for a four-team college football playoff, starting in 2014.

Here’s what you need to know about the new postseason format put together by the commissioners of the 11 major college football conferences and Notre Dame’s athletic director.

HOW WILL THE TEAMS BE CHOSEN? A selection committee will pick the four teams, using guidelines such as strength of schedule, head-to-head results and won-loss record, after the regular season. The committee will give preference to conference champions. The makeup of the committee is to be determined, but it will likely be about 20 conference commissioners and college athletic directors.

WHERE WILL THE GAMES BE PLAYED? The two semifinals will rotate among six sites. The current BCS games are the Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.), Sugar Bowl (New Orleans), Fiesta Bowl (Glendale, Ariz.) and Orange Bowl (Miami). The Cotton Bowl, now played at the state-of-the-art Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, has to be considered a front-runner to land one of the other two spots. Candidates for the other one? Try Atlanta and Jacksonville, Fla.

The championship game will become college football’s Super Bowl. Any city can bid on it, even ones that host the semifinals and those that have not been traditional bowl sites. Expect most to be played in dome stadiums or warm weather sites.

WHEN WILL THE GAMES BE PLAYED? The semifinals will be played on Dec. 31 and/or Jan. 1. College football used to own New Year’s Day. The Bowl Championship Series got away from that. The leaders of the sport want to reclaim that day. The championship game will always be played on the first Monday that is at least six days after the semifinals. The first “Championship Monday” is Jan. 12, 2015.

WILL THIS PUT AN END TO THE CONTROVERSY? No. Doubling the field from two teams to four alleviates some of the problems that the Bowl Championship Series couldn’t solve. There will still be plenty of complaining, but it will come from teams No. 5, 6 and 7, instead of Nos. 3 and 4. That’s better. The farther down you go in the rankings, the weaker the arguments get for inclusion. But there are plenty of people out there now that believe four is not nearly enough.

HOW MUCH? Conservative estimates have the television right to the new playoff system being worth at least double what the BCS was worth. That means $300 million easy, probably more like $400 or $500. How it gets divided among the conferences is still to be finalized, though criteria has been set up:

— On-field success

— Teams’ expenses

— Marketplace factors

— Academic performance of student-athletes

In short the five power conferences (SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC and Pac-12) will get more than the others. The Big East no longer will get a big share, but how much smaller will it be?

HOW SOON AND FOR HOW LONG? The four-team playoff will start in the 2014 season because the current TV deals have already locked the Bowl Championship Series in for two more years. The next round of TV deals will be for 12 years. Those negotiations will begin in the fall. The 12-year deal accomplishes two goals for the commissioners:

1) They don’t want to deal with this every four years the way they have been.

2) It keeps the playoff from expanding for 12 years.

WILL IT GROW EVENTUALLY? No doubt. It will be successful, so why not have more of a good thing. Also, many if not all of the people who put this thing together will have moved on when it’s time to come up with another plan. College football is moving away from the current bowl system, in which it farms out its postseason to third parties. As a new structure evolves and conferences continue to realign, there is no reason to think the playoff will continue to have only four teams.

Copyright 2012 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.