College Football Gets Its Four-Team Playoff

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University presidents OK the plan to eliminate the Bowl Championship Series starting with 2014 season.

So long, Bowl Championship Series. Hello, playoffs.

College football's top division on Tuesday officially moved to a four-team playoff beginning with the 2014 season when a committee of university presidents in Washington approved a BCS commissioners’ plan that had been in the works for months.

For the next two seasons, things will remain as they have since the introduction of the BCS format in 1998. A committee will create five bowl matchups, including one that pits what it decides are the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country in a championship game.

But starting in 2014, the committee will select four teams based on won-loss record, strength of schedule, head-to-head meetings and whether a team is a conference champion. The semifinal games will be rotated among six bowls to be determined (the Rose, Fiesta, Sugar and Orange bowls and two others), with one contest on New Year’s Eve and the other on New Year’s Day.

The winners advance to the national championship game about a week later, with the site selected through a bidding process, much like the Super Bowl.

The current BCS contract expires after the 2013 season, with the Rose Bowl hosting the final BCS title game. Disney now pays $155 million annually for the major bowls and the national championship game that airs on ESPN. Analysts have predicted that the rights fee could soar to $400 million a year or $4.8 billion over 12 years, the length of the deal for the new playoff format. More than 24 million viewers watched this year’s national championship game in which Alabama blanked LSU.

ESPN has an exclusive negotiating window beginning in early fall.

“By making this change, we felt we could enhance the regular season but at the same time provide the fans with the kind of postseason that will contribute to the regular season,” Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive told reporters in Washington.

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