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NCAA football playoff sites to be set

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With the how and when of college football playoffs determined, it's time to lock in the where.

The conference commissioners in charge of putting together the four-team playoff system that will start after the 2014 regular season will meet starting Tuesday in Pasadena, Calif.

Gearing up

GEARING UP

College football is finally back. Catch up on spring action.

At the top of their agenda: Pick three more bowls to be used in the semifinal rotation and decide on a site for the first national championship game. The Rose, Sugar and Orange bowls are already part of the six-bowl semifinal rotation.

''It will be another big step,'' BCS executive director Bill Hancock said recently.

True, though all signs point toward these big steps being foregone conclusions. The Fiesta, Cotton and Chick-fil-A bowls are the overwhelming favorites to be chosen for the playoff rotation, and have been for a while. So much so that only one other bowl - the Holiday Bowl in San Diego - even put in a bid to be part of the system that will replace the Bowl Championship Series.

''I was a little surprised we didn't get more,'' Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said.

Hancock said there was plenty of interest even though it didn't result in bids.

''I talked to 10 or 12 bowls about it,'' he said. ''I think for various reasons people decided, many of the bowls decided, they'd rather go in a different direction. Some wanted to stick with their conference contracts, others couldn't meet specs for 55,000 seat stadiums.

''We're not disappointed with the numbers. We have good options and there are terrific stadiums.''

Bowlsby conceded the appearance of three bowls having the inside track to the playoff rotation might have deterred others from bidding.

Even Holiday Bowl organizers acknowledge they are a big underdog.

''We know it's a tough competition,'' Holiday Bowl executive director Bruce Binkowski said. ''But we felt it was incumbent upon us to make a bid.

''It's tough to beat out the incumbents.''

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TOP 25 FOR 2013

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As for the site of the first national championship game, which will be played Jan. 12, 2015, the front-runner is Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, home of not only the Dallas Cowboys but the Cotton Bowl.

It's not quite a done deal. Tampa, Fla., also put in a bid that is being considered. But it'll be hard to pass up playing the first national title game of the playoff era in the Dallas Cowboys' state-of-the-art football palace.

''We're anxiously awaiting their decision and hope that, if given the opportunity, want to make that, want the venue to be appropriate to the first college championship under the new system,'' Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.

''It'd be a great opportunity for us and one that we would give it everything that we have as an organization to be the best. I'm anxiously awaiting that decision Wednesday.''

The new postseason system will also get a name this week.

''It will be simple,'' Hancock said. ''It will not be cutesy. And it will be descriptive. I've seen too many people make mistakes by trying to be cutesy.''

Also on the agenda will be the selection committee that will pick the final four. The commissioners want a panel similar to the one that picks the field for the NCAA basketball tournament, composed of athletic directors and conference commissioners.

That won't be finished this week, but Hancock hopes when the commissioners leave southern California, the selection committee will be the only major part of the new postseason plan still hanging.

''I know the commissioners are very interested in moving the needle on it,'' he said. ''I'm sure it will get a fair amount of discussion.''

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