North Texas, with a Capital ‘T’

Memo to all you die-hard college football fans out there: Go ahead and mark your calendars for January 12, 2015, and start making your travel plans for Arlington, Texas.

That’s when and where the 2014 national champion will be crowned, based on the culmination of the inaugural College Football Playoff. The heralded product of much discussion and debate, the new system is designed to determine that season’s No. 1 team in a process as straightforward as its name…replacing the existing and sometimes controversial Bowl Championship Series (BCS), which incorporates a combination of polls and computer rankings to determine its participants.

Much like the NCAA Basketball Tournament, the College Football Playoff will pit the nation’s top four teams in a bracket to decide which two programs will advance to the championship game at Cowboys Stadium. The winners of the Rose and Sugar Bowls, both played on January 1, 2015, will match up two weeks later in Arlington, centrally located approximately 12 miles east of downtown Fort Worth and 20 miles west of downtown Dallas.
Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas

Following the inaugural season of the College Football Playoff, the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic (also played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington) will join the six-bowl rotation (including the Chick-Fil-A, Fiesta and Orange Bowls) and will host the national semifinals once every three years, with its first semifinal game on Jan. 1, 2016.

“We think the new playoff will be the most dynamic improvement to college football in a generation,” said executive director Bill Hancock.

It’s also a victory for North Texas, which was selected as the site of the inaugural championship game by BCS commissioners in April, despite a heavy blitz by organizers in the Tampa Bay community.
Thirty-seven years after North Texas last played host to what resulted in the national title game—when fifth-ranked Notre Dame surprised No. 1 Texas, 38-10, on January 2, 1978, at the Cotton Bowl, vaulting the Irish to No. 1 in the final rankings—local organizers say they’re planning to “put on a show that all of North Texas will be proud of.”

Eight times the national championship has been won or lost in North Texas, all at the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic. The ninth time will be history-in-the-making, as the much-anticipated College Football Playoff replaces the BCS as the definitive factor in that season’s national champion.

Notre Dame vs. Alabama in the 2013 BCS National Title Game

The four-team College Football Playoff and its kickoff Championship Game marks a new era in the storied annals of NCAA college football…as well as an exciting time in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Nine months earlier, North Texas will play oh-so-gracious host to the 2014 NCAA Men’s Final Four, also at Cowboys Stadium.

That heady championship run begins and ends at the $1.2 billion, 100,000-plus seat home of the NFL’s Cowboys and the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic…which, apparently, turned out to be North Texas’ ace in the hole in securing two of sports’ biggest events.

“The stadium itself was the biggest determiner [in how North Texas was chosen as the inaugural site of the College Football Playoff Championship Game],” Hancock said. “It’s still the stadium with a capital ‘T.’”