For the first time since 1997, the final game was played at a new location—Pizza Hut Park in the Dallas suburb of Frisco, Texas. Every title game since 1997 had been held at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but the NCAA opened the hosting rights for the 2010–2012 championship games for bids during the 2009 season, as the hosting contract between the NCAA and the Chattanooga organizers was set to expire. In addition to Frisco and Chattanooga, three other cities submitted bids:
The field of bidders was eventually cut to Chattanooga and Frisco, with Frisco being announced as the winner on February 26, 2010.
The January finish to the season was the result of an expanded playoff schedule. The championship tournament expanded from 16 teams to 20, with the Big South and Northeast Conference earning automatic bids for the first time. Eight teams played first-round games, with the remaining participants receiving byes into the second round. The playoffs began at their normal time on Thanksgiving weekend, specifically on November 27. According to early reports, the championship game would be played sometime between December 29, 2010 and January 7, 2011, and January 7 was ultimately chosen.
No teams from the conferences that do not have automatic bids—currently the Great West Conference and Pioneer Football League—received bids. In order for a team from a conference without an automatic bid to be eligible for the playoffs, it must have a minimum of seven Division I wins, with at least two against teams in automatic bid conferences. The team in question also must be ranked an average of 16 or better in the national rankings.