There remain a number of options on the table for the format of the newly announced “Final Four” playoff to be utilized in college football, but the popular sentiment is the BCS bowls will be used to host these three games on a rotating basis. There is one question no one appears to be asking at this point.
What bowl games will be given BCS status?
You’ve obviously been breathing second-hand air in Nate Newton’s car if you believe Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will sit back and accept life as a respectable New Year’s Day bowl with no championship implications.
The Cotton Bowl was once a top-tier bowl whose status was just below the Rose and Sugar Bowl and right about even with the Orange. Somehow, the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe earned BCS top-tier status and the Cotton fell to a fun consolation bowl that was played somewhere between New Year’s Day and two days before the BCS Championship Game.
After everything that was uncovered about the Fiesta Bowl’s spending on juicy steaks and nekkid women dancing on poles, I guess the reasoning is a little easier to understand. However, in the Fiesta Bowl CEO, John Junker’s defense, he was just conducting business in places where big strong athletes visit — and then covered it up alongside a load of other improprieties.
Jerry Jones and his Vatican Dome took over the hosting of the Cotton Bowl from the stadium named for the game, the Cotton Bowl, in 2009 (2008 season). The writing was on the wall at this point that Jones appeared to be making a move to get the Cotton Bowl back to the status it enjoyed in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.
Cowboys Stadium — AKA Jerry Dome — would officially become the largest venue in the BCS. The normal capacity for football is 80,000, but can be expanded to over 100,000. To believe the BCS would want to miss out on sharing revenue from 100,000 tickets sold at an average of about $150 a pop, again, you and Nate Newton would appear to be hanging out way too much.
The Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome is another bowl that has been discussed as a contender if the BCS ever expanded. Atlanta and the Georgia Dome hosted the Sugar Bowl in 2006 (2005 season) when the Super Dome in New Orleans was out of commission due to Hurricane Katrina.
In 2006, the BCS began using a piggyback system where a fifth BCS game was held as the championship game. It seemed as though another venue/host would be added to the four BCS mainstays and Atlanta appeared to be in prime position to get the bid. They had just successfully hosted the Sugar Bowl and had a venue that was already hosting Super Bowls and NCAA basketball Final Fours. With that impressive resume, the goobs over at the BCS agreed that it would be best to allow one venue and one city to host two games in two weeks on a rotating basis among the current BCS member bowls.
The 2007 version of the Chick-fil-A Bowl was ESPN’s highest rated bowl game of the season, a 23-20 New Year’s Eve victory for Auburn in overtime over Clemson. It was also the third-highest attended bowl that season.
Those numbers have not waivered much over the past five years and Atlanta is a hotbed for college football. It would only be natural for Atlanta to set a stage for one of the biggest games of the season. Heck, it already hosts the championship game – SEC Championship Game – whose winner has gone to the BCS Championship Game the past six years, so why not again?
One BCS bowl site may need to exit to make room for two additonal hosts, otherwise Dallas would probably be in better position at this point as they currently lead Atlanta in facilities and flash with Jerry Jones leading the march.
There is a bowl that could be pulled from the BCS and no one except those who profit from its existence would care.
The Fiesta Bowl.
Tostitos would never taste the same and Brent Musburger would never be allowed to say, “This is for all the Tostitos,” but we could certainly learn to live without it.
One BCS bowl venue in the West will suffice. The entire Southern region of the United States would be represented with five BCS homes in Pasadena (Southern California), Dallas (Southwest), New Orleans (Midsouth), Atlanta (Midsouth/ Southeast), and Miami (Southeast coast). You could basically draw a deformed “M” from the tip of the Pacific Ocean (Los Angeles) all the way to the tip of Atlantic (Miami).
Honestly, have we ever really needed the Fiesta Bowl? Atlanta, Dallas, New Orleans, Los Angeles and Miami all have strong ties to college football. Sure, Tempe has Arizona State and Arizona in its market. Um, I really have nothing additional to add regarding Sun Devil and Wildcat football.
Maybe the above paragraph was too harsh, but look at it this way — Atlanta’s market has Georgia and Georgia Tech, not to mention a strong base of other SEC and ACC teams. Dallas has the Longhorns and Texas A&M. New Orleans has LSU. Los Angeles has USC and UCLA. Miami has the Hurricanes as well as Florida State and Florida to some degree. All of the teams in these markets have been traditional winners and national brands and while Arizona and Arizona State have been respectable, their tradition and national presence pales in comparison to the aforementioned teams.
Does market really matter if you can sell tickets and get television ratings? Not when there’s one championship game where a team’s fans can set their eyes (and budget) on one destination.
But what if a team from the Southeast makes it to the ‘Final Four’ playoff (which is highly likely)? With the advent of high-definition television, what’s to say Alabama fans wouldn’t just drive to Atlanta or New Orleans or fly to Miami for a semi-final game and just watch the Fiesta Bowl’s championship game in high def’ at home?
Which leads to this final point against Tempe — it’s not a destination city. Los Angeles works because it’s Los Angeles and Hollywood. If a fan from the Southeast wanted to drop $5,000 on a trip out West with a family of four to see a football game, at least the entire family would have reason to enjoy the trip, even if they hated football.
Atlanta is not a destination city, but it doesn’t have to be because it’s within a five-hour drive for many fans in the Southeast. Atlanta’s close enough to every fan in the Southeast without being too close that no one would want to stay for the weekend (hotels and restaurants want their share too). They do from Friday to Sunday for the SEC Championship, they’d do it for the Football Final Four as well.
Okay, Midwest football guy. I know many of you Big Ten honks out there are screaming, “Hey! What about the Big Ten!?!?”
Yeah? What about ‘em?