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Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Playoff should see Midwest as Super, too

By Brian Bennett

Here's a crazy notion: the biggest game in football being played not in some tropical locale but smack dab in the Midwest.

It's true. The NFL on Tuesday awarded the 2018 Super Bowl to Minneapolis and its forthcoming new stadium. Minneapolis was one of three finalists, along with New Orleans and another Midwestern city, Indianapolis.

This development isn't groundbreaking. The 2012 Super Bowl was held in Indianapolis, and Detroit hosted the 2006 game. Sportswriters will no doubt grumble about the weather in 2018 and openly pine for a sunnier destination like Miami or San Diego. But Minneapolis is a great city and should provide plenty to do in the buildup to the game.

Vikings Stadium rendering
If Minneapolis' new stadium is good enough to host the 2018 Super Bowl, why can't it -- or another Midwestern city like Indianapolis, Detroit or St. Louis -- host the College Football Playoff championship game?
All of which leads to a larger point: If it's good enough for the Super Bowl, the Midwest ought to land a college football national championship game in the near future, too.

The new College Football Playoff system allows cities to bid on hosting the title game. The first three sites are predictably warm-weather spots -- Arlington, Texas, in January 2015; Glendale, Arizona, in 2016; and Tampa, Florida, in 2017. Minneapolis was the only Midwestern city to make a strong run at any of the first three games, losing out to Tampa. Which was disappointing, because other than the weather, Tampa doesn't compare to the Twin Cities.

Having the Super Bowl in 2018 pretty much rules out a bid for the college football title game that year for Minneapolis. But Indianapolis, which had been focusing its efforts on landing the NFL's signature event that year, would now be free to go after the 2018 Playoff championship. Detroit should make a run, too. Having an indoor stadium would lessen concerns about the weather in January, so those three cities -- along with possibly St. Louis -- are the best bets for the Midwest.

And as we've said before, it would be wildly unfair if the college football title game never came to the region. It's supposed to be a neutral site, and there is good football played in more than just the South, West and Texas. The Big Ten for years has dealt with playing virtual road games in its bowls, and that could very well continue in the Playoff semifinals. The league shouldn't have to do that in the title game as well (assuming the conference can get a team there, of course). Indianapolis has proved it can host world-class events like the Final Four and the Super Bowl and has done a fantastic job with the Big Ten championship game, for example.

Comparing the Super Bowl and college football championship game is not apples and oranges. The NFL has tried to reward its owners by moving the game around, particularly to those teams who have built new stadiums. College football doesn't have to worry about keeping its owners happy or to incentivize stadium construction.

But the sport should include all areas of the country that help keep it strong. And if the Midwest is good enough to host the Super Bowl, the region should get college football's top game soon, too.