BCS Doubts A College Football Stadium Can Host A College Football Game

Submitted by Brian on April 25th, 2012 at 11:40 AM

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It appears that conference commissioners are against home games for a four-team college football playoff. Since it's tough to think of a valid reason to be against them, the commissioners have to make up bad reasons. Bad reasons like "they play basketball at neutral sites" that ignore things like the NFL and every other playoff in the country that is not NCAA hockey.

That only is the third-worst argument.

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The second-worst is "what if Cincinnati gets a bid?" Here is a complete list of teams that would have hosted first-round games if a four-team playoff had been instituted in 1998, the year of the BCS's inception:

  • Tennessee [102,455]
  • Florida State [82,300]
  • Virginia Tech [66,233]
  • Oklahoma [82,112]
  • Miami [74,916]
  • Nebraska [86,304]
  • Ohio State [102,329]
  • LSU [92,542]
  • USC [93,607]
  • Texas [101,624]
  • Florida [88,548]
  • Alabama [101,821]
  • Auburn [87,451]
  • Oregon [53,800]

All but three of those stadiums have capacities above 82,000. The exceptions are Miami's Your Name Here Stadium (75k), VT's Lane Stadium (66k) and Oregon's Autzen Stadium (54k). Each would have hosted once. Since the capacity of the Fiesta Bowl is 63k and the Orange Bowl is held at the same place Miami plays home games, stadium size cannot be a reasonable objection. In the event a tiny stadium would get to host, make them move the site to a reasonably close stadium of appropriate size, or just count your money from the many, many times college teams with capacities 20k larger than the biggest pro stadiums have hosted. Problem solved.

800px-Ben_Hill_Griffin_Stadium[1]

So that's a bad argument. But it's not the worst. This is the worst:

BCS executive director Bill Hancock has said there are questions about whether some college campuses had the infrastructure necessary to accommodate the crush of fans and media attending a college football semifinal.

"The infrastructure needed on campus is significant," Hancock told the Associated Press. "That's a factor. That's just one example of the intricacies that are part of this."

Bill Hancock wonders if college football stadiums have the infrastructure to host college football games.

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You can't make this up, because if you did people would hit you really hard with rolled-up socks.

Comments

93Grad

April 25th, 2012 at 1:24 PM ^

the world.  If the games end up to be all neutral site then, by God, they better at least have sites in the north or Jim Delany has lost all power. 

Ed Shuttlesworth

April 25th, 2012 at 1:30 PM ^

You aren't going to get a lot of people committing to two significant road trips, one of which may not happen, over the holiday season.  You won't even know who's in the semis until after the first weekend in December, less than a month before the first semifinal.   There could be a half-dozen or more teams contending for #4; are they going to pre-sell to those fan bases? 

 

 

Ed Shuttlesworth

April 25th, 2012 at 1:40 PM ^

And I'll believe the B1G and Pac-10 are willing to relegate the Rose Bowl to a sideshow when I see it.  At the end of the day, it's very unlikely that the schools and conferences are going to leave the traditional bowls without the top 4 teams.

badjuju81

April 25th, 2012 at 1:41 PM ^

The NHL scheduled the 2013 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium hoping to get the largest hockey crowd in history to attend, with potentially half the attendees being Toronto Maple Leafs fans coming from Ontario and needing hotel rooms and RV parking.

Needs

April 25th, 2012 at 4:07 PM ^

What does that have to do with anything? I really don't understand your point. Are you arguing that Texas fans would flood Ann Arbor and overwhelm DTW, in excess of tickets available, when they could be putting such money toward a potential championship game? 

Lanknows

April 25th, 2012 at 4:31 PM ^

additional out-of-town fans (on top of normal home games) can be difficult for many college towns to handle.  It's not just about the airport, but car-rentals, hotels, restaurants,etc.  This is much less of an issue if you're driving into town for the day (like Toronto fans can.)

Ann Arbor is well poised to handle it, with Detroit as it's neighbor.  Some of the smaller and more remote college towns would legitimately struggle.

Hannibal.

April 25th, 2012 at 1:56 PM ^

The best reason to not play games at home fields is because playing it at the bowl sites allows you to preserve the current system somewhat.  Part of the charm from the system comes from the fact that there are incremental benefits to it at the end.  There is value and meaning in games that don't affect the national championship (this year's Rose Bowl, for example).  And there is lasting value in a bowl victory.  Michigan, for example, has won numerous bowl games in our lifetime in years where they wouldn't have been selected for a final four. 

If you have a round of four at home stadiums, and then try to have the bowl system after that, it would be a disaster.  The bowl system would become the NIT, and it would collapse. 

Ali G Bomaye

April 25th, 2012 at 1:59 PM ^

How would it be a disaster?  All you would need to do is have a playoff on campus stadiums through December, similar to how FCS and lower divisions do it.  Then have the bowls like normal on January 1 or thereabouts, except now the teams in the championship will have earned their way in.

If Michigan loses a semifinal, they go to a bowl just like they would now, but they don't get screwed out of a chance to appear in the championship like they (arguably) did in 2006.  If Michigan is outside the top four after the regular season, like this past year, nothing changes from their perspective.

Hannibal.

April 25th, 2012 at 2:27 PM ^

The fans of the teams that lose those semifinals almost certainly won't travel to their bowl games in decent numbers.  If you thought the attendance and ratings for this year's Sugar Bowl were bad, wait until these games officially become consolation prizes for the losers of the semifinals. 

Ali G Bomaye

April 26th, 2012 at 1:16 PM ^

Our fans still travel to bowl games even though our last game is almost always the biggest game of the year.  If you're just worried about sheer number of tickets sold, having two compelling games (playoff plus bowl game) will almost certainly sell more tickets than one compelling bowl game, even if the bowl game numbers are diluted a bit in the first scenario.

ESNY

April 25th, 2012 at 1:55 PM ^

Simple solution, make it a requirement that if a particular school's football field doesn't fit a size requirement (say 60,000 seats), they have to either 1) procure availability of a place that does fit the requirement within XXX number of miles of the campus or 2) be ineligible to host a game, thus the game is played at the home of the lower ranked team.  Problem solved. 

Yeoman

April 26th, 2012 at 4:27 PM ^

Chicago hosted a D3 basketball tournament game at Moody Bible one year because their own gym was too small (or maybe it wasn't available at all that year, I can't remember), and in a later season they were allowed to host the first two rounds but the regional was moved to a lower-ranked school with a qualifying gym.

There's no shortgage of precedents for how to handle these issues--it's not as if the NCAA doesn't handle playoffs or tournaments for every division in every sport except for BCS football.

Ed Shuttlesworth

April 25th, 2012 at 2:01 PM ^

Yes, the infrastructure concerns are valid.  Most BCS-eligible teams' stadiums and cities aren't equipped to handle a Super Bowl-style event.  Before the renovations, Michigan Stadium wasn't -- no luxury boxes. (*)  

Now, the premise behind that is that the national college football semifinals should be Super Bowl-style events, filled with high-rollers, non-fans, casual fans, corporate execs, and all the rest -- rather than a game for the fans of the teams involved.  That battle, unfortunately, was lost a long time ago.   The world is no longer safe for the purely aesthetic pleasures of LSU at Michigan in Ann Arbor, or Alabama at Oregon in Eugene, for the right to go the national championship.  The event must be bigger than just that.

(*) It's not just that Eugene, Oregon can't handle a Super Bowl; it's also that the type of people the Super Bowl lures aren't lured by Eugene, Oregon.

Ed Shuttlesworth

April 25th, 2012 at 2:01 PM ^

Yes, the infrastructure concerns are valid.  Most BCS-eligible teams' stadiums and cities aren't equipped to handle a Super Bowl-style event.  Before the renovations, Michigan Stadium wasn't -- no luxury boxes. (*)  

Now, the premise behind that is that the national college football semifinals should be Super Bowl-style events, filled with high-rollers, non-fans, casual fans, corporate execs, and all the rest -- rather than a game for the fans of the teams involved.  That battle, unfortunately, was lost a long time ago.   The world is no longer safe for the purely aesthetic pleasures of LSU at Michigan in Ann Arbor, or Alabama at Oregon in Eugene, for the right to go the national championship.  The event must be bigger than just that.

(*) It's not just that Eugene, Oregon can't handle a Super Bowl; it's also that the type of people the Super Bowl lures aren't lured by Eugene, Oregon.

Hannibal.

April 25th, 2012 at 2:22 PM ^

Do people still want a playoff even if it means that every game is played at a neutral (and probably warm weather) site?  What if there are 16 teams instead of 4, and those 16 teams include an auto-bid from the Sun Belt, C-USA, and the MAC?  Is anything better than what we have now? 

Needs

April 25th, 2012 at 2:33 PM ^

That is a great question. I would say no.

Among the things I most value about college football is the way it has created attachment between fans, alumni, teams, and institutions in particular places that have acquired meaning over time (I think this lack of meaningful sense of place accounts for the lack of affection that people have for the Orange and Fiesta Bowls, particularly since they've become detached from particular conferences.) The real appeal of the home stadium-based plans was that it tied a solution to a problem that many felt about the way the sport resolved its champion to the sport's past, to its rootedness in place. 

A playoff system that further distances the games from the fans that care, by making it almost impossible for fans to attend the games, is, in my opinion, not worth pursuing.

coastal blue

April 26th, 2012 at 10:54 AM ^

Let's say we had a 16 team playoff that included auto bids for the 6 BCS conference champs and then a committee to decide the next ten. After all the screaming and hysterics over how awful it would be initially, once the first season concluded everyone would love it, because

A. Its football and Americans love football. 

B. Playoff anything is better than regular season anything. 

profitgoblue

April 25th, 2012 at 2:26 PM ^

Its funny that the masses are all in favor (I think?) of a playoff system and there are a very few that oppose it, simply because of the money involved in and history of the bowl system. 

On a different note, I know the Rose Bowl has always been the Rolls Royce of the B1G and Michigan's yearly aspiration, but would we really be all that upset to see it fall away if it meant possibly hosting a playoff game in Ann Arbor?

 

Ziff72

April 25th, 2012 at 2:36 PM ^

Couple of points people are making.

1. There is no danger of these games not selling out ever regardless of weather.  If any team north of the Mason/Dixon line is hosting a playoff game they will sell out instantly for ridiculous amounts of money.   If a Florida Gator fan gives up his seat because he's afraid of the cold then go get a higher ranking.  Fuck Em.  He will make a lot of money off that seat.

 

2. If a small campus has to host the game then jack up the prices even higher and suck it up because with all the TV revenue you are making it will make a minimal difference.     If Northwestern is hosting a playoff game they will either go to Soldier Field or Memorial Stadium or they will jack up the prices of tickets at their stadium to a ridiculous level and they'll get it.

Wolverine96

April 25th, 2012 at 2:41 PM ^

How is the Michigan Stadium and Ann Arbor Infrasturcture going to be able to handle all the Canadians coming across the border for the Winter Classic?  Didn't anyone know its going to be cold January 1!  And the throngs of media for that game.  How will the stadium handle it?

Ann Arbor is doomed!  

the Glove

April 25th, 2012 at 2:46 PM ^

To be honest with you, I'm kind of surprised that they're not using a very basic argument to defend their case, which would be easier to BS for them. That they want no competitive advantage for either team and their fans and they can obtain this through playing at a neutral site. It would have been a better argument then the 3 they made.

wolfman81

April 25th, 2012 at 3:25 PM ^

About the only weather-related comment that I could see getting justified is that the B1G doesn't host night games after 1 November, and the BCS loves them some prime time.

Now I don't buy that complaint at all.  Otherwise the stadiums in Green Bay, Chicago, Buffalo, Boston, New York, Philiadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland would never host SNF/MNF games after November 1.  (And to a lesser extent you could include Washington DC, Baltimore, and Tennessee.)  This is a quarter (or more) of the league.

And don't throw the baseball argument out there.   Baseball doesn't adapt well to the elements, while Football (at least from the players perspective) DOES.  Maybe the fans will suffer a little hardship (but don't tell it to these guys)

Or these crazy guys

/crazy_people

NoMoPincherBug

April 25th, 2012 at 4:37 PM ^

The fat cats who run the NCAA and BCS are always saying these ridiculous things as if they really "care" about the student athletes. In reality anyone with a brain, who is not involved in their politicking, can clearly see that all of the fat cats chirping/lying is about $ pure and simple.  Its pretty sad, but that is the way it goes, particularly in college football.

InterM

April 25th, 2012 at 5:12 PM ^

why college football stadiums can't be relied on to host college football games.  There might be a schedule conflict with a high school game . . . .

Ed Shuttlesworth

April 25th, 2012 at 6:14 PM ^

Isn't the critical question really whether the campus semis are intended to be true home games, or whether the tickets are divided half-and-half (or something close).  If they're just another home game tacked on at the end of the schedule (like, say, the NIT), there is and can be no infrastructure issue. (*)  If the idea is an even split, yeah, Pullman in the dead of winter with half a stadium full of tourists and not much lead time would be tough -- no way around it.

My preference would be a pure or nearly pure home game -- that's kind of ... you know ... the point --, but I have no idea whether that was the idea as contemplated.

(*) As to more media, practically every BCS school has hosted a national TV game with tons of media, including Wazzu.  Not an issue.

RowoneEndzone

April 26th, 2012 at 9:01 AM ^

You might be right.  That could be a bigger factor than people realize.  BUT, I went to the Elite 8 game between Syracuse and Ohio in the Boston Garden and they did not serve b/c of NCAA policy.  It will be interesteding to see what their policy will be.

Brodie

April 26th, 2012 at 1:57 PM ^

Sometimes you have to pick your battles and I think Delany wrongly picked keeping the Rose Bowl as prestigious as possible. Whatever. 

Yeoman

April 26th, 2012 at 4:12 PM ^

But the missing "infrastructure" isn't needed to serve the "crush of fans and media" but to take care of certain wealthy individuals who have come to expect rather expensive amenities that are much easier to provide when you know far in advance where the games will be played and when that place is Miami or New Orleans or Los Angeles and not a typical college town. Of course Eugene can handle a sellout crowd but where are the 5-star hotels? The Michelin-starred restaurants? The hookers and blow?