The BCS Presidential Advisory Committee and the 10 commissioners put their stamps on the playoff specifics at meetings at the Hyatt Regency hotel downtown. Officials believe they have finally curbed criticism of the 14-year-old Bowl Championship Series system.
"The group has been very responsive to what the football fans want -- the four-game playoff," said Virginia Tech president Charles Steger, the chairman of the committee. "College football, as well as the fans, will be served well with what we came up with."
The 10 conference commissioners -- the Western Athletic Conference disbands as a football conference after this year -- and presidential committee unanimously approved the following:
A four-team seeded playoff with a selection committee to determine the teams, similar to the current NCAA Tournament Basketball Committee.
The creation of three "contract bowls" -- the Rose, Sugar and Orange -- which will maintain current conference tie-ins, plus three undetermined "host bowls." The two semifinals will rotate among those six bowls, all played on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. The championship, yet to be named, will be played a week later on a Monday night.
The higher portion of revenues will go to conferences that qualify for the two semifinals. While that is not advantageous for the five smaller conferences, projected TV revenues of up to $7.2 billion over the 12 years of the contract would guarantee smaller schools more money than they receive now.
Ten percent of the revenue will go to conferences for academics, but any school that does not meet the current Academic Progress Report will receive nothing. Conferences will divide the money among schools meeting the APR requirement.
Since the birth of the BCS in 1998, members of the five smaller conferences -- the Mountain West, Mid-American, Conference USA, Sun Belt and WAC -- have complained about limited access to the higher-paying major BCS bowls.
In the new setup, which is set through 2025, the highest-ranked team of that "Group of Five" (with the Big East replacing the WAC) is guaranteed a spot in an access bowl. It also will qualify for the playoffs if it finishes in the top four.
"I'm very optimistic that with all 10 conferences, not including the WAC, that everybody's going to come out in a good place," said Craig Thompson, commissioner of the Colorado Springs-based Mountain West.
Seven of the 12 bowl spots will be determined this way: Five will go to the champions of the five major conferences, one goes to the highest-ranked team of the Group of Five and one goes to the highest-ranked among Notre Dame and the non-champions of the Big Ten and SEC. That team will play the ACC champion in the Orange Bowl.
The other five will be at-large bids going to the highest-ranked remaining teams, similar to today.
The leading contenders for the three "host bowls" are the Fiesta, Cotton and Chick-fil-A.
"Our sport has the best regular season of any collegiate sport," said Northern Illinois president John Peters, a member of the oversight committee. "Now we're able to give the fans what they want, and that is this four-team playoff format. So we're now going to have a great regular season coupled with a very exciting postseason."
The presidents and commissioners also agreed on the need to tie academic performance with revenue sharing.
"I do think it's a recognition that this is a model for collegiate athletics ... that academics are important, and we did a good thing," Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman said.