College football playoff at neutral sites?

April, 24, 2012
4/24/12
7:40
PM ET
Changes are coming to the college football postseason, and it appears that the most likely scenario is to play the semifinals and national championship game at neutral sites, a source familiar with the negotiations told ESPN.com on Tuesday.

This part likely will be interesting to Pac-12 fans:
A proposal to play the semifinal games at the home stadiums of the higher-seeded teams is all but dead, according to the source. The semifinal games will either be hosted by the existing BCS bowl games or opened for bidding. The source said it seemed almost certain that the national championship game will be opened to bidding by the existing BCS bowl sites and other cities such as Atlanta, Dallas and Indianapolis.

The conference commissioners have reached a conclusion that some FBS schools' stadiums aren't large enough to host a national semifinal game and that many college towns don't have enough hotel rooms to accommodate bigger crowds.

"What happens if TCU finishes No. 2 in the country and hosts a semifinal game?" the source said. "TCU finished No. 3 two years ago. Are they really hosting No. 3 Ohio State in a 45,000-seat stadium? Where are people going to stay if Oregon hosts a semifinal game? In Portland? As much as it would be great for the sport to see a game played in Ann Arbor, Mich., Tuscaloosa, Ala., or Lincoln, Neb., some of the logistical issues are just too severe. I think that idea has come home to roost as far as these guys are concerned."

No offense to the source, but Oregon could produce plenty of hotel rooms within an hour's drive, probably more than most AQ conference teams. Just saying.

If the semifinals and finals were to be played in existing BCS bowls, the games could rotate in some fashion. What would that mean for the Rose Bowl? Well, that remains to be seen.
Conference commissioners are still debating about what to do with the Rose Bowl as well, according to the source. Rose Bowl officials have repeatedly said they prefer to keep their traditional matchup between Big Ten and Pac-12 teams; Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott also favor keeping the traditional tie-in intact. But if the Rose Bowl isn't willing to give up its affiliations with those conferences, it might fall out of a potential national semifinals rotation. However, the Rose Bowl would still be eligible to bid for a national championship game.

The elimination of the semifinal games being played at the higher seeds' home stadiums is good news for the BCS bowls, at least other than the Rose Bowl. It presents a scenario where they can still exist in a high-profile way, one that really doesn't dramatically change much for them.

Other, perhaps, than conference affiliation.

Stay tuned.

Ted Miller | email

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