The how’s and where’s of the first-ever playoff system in major college football remain to be determined, but there is one option to the latter question that is reportedly no longer under consideration.
According to Joe Rexrode of the Lansing State Journal, Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis conceded earlier Tuesday that the on-campus option for hosting semifinal games “has been eliminated” from consideration. When that option was officially taken off the table is unclear. Why, or at least part of the reason why, was made clear by Hollis — The Granddaddy of Them All.
“For me, it’s critical to keep the Rose Bowl in the equation,” Hollis said. “There’s a lot of historical value and there’s a lot of future value to having the Rose Bowl connected with Michigan State, with Michigan, with the Big Ten Conference, and the home (game idea) takes that out.”
The move comes as little surprise as it was thought on-campus venues were no longer a consideration until officials confirmed the idea was, in essence, alive but on life support.
With the apparent decision to eschew on-campus venues — which was backed by, among others, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and his Pac-12 counterpart Larry Scott — the where of the semifinals in a college football playoff will come down to two options: current bowl venues, or bidding them out to neutral sites outside of the current bowl structure.
As for the favorite among those two options, the Big Ten, per Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, is in favor of the semifinals being contested at current bowl venues, which, of course, includes the Rose Bowl.
“Let’s say it is five degrees. Is that right for the game?” Smith was quoted as saying, going against the grain as to why most thought the Big Ten would push harder for on-campus semifinals. “We’re not pros… A fast surface, good weather is important.”
How that option is viewed by the other 10 conferences remains to be seen and will be up for further discussion in the coming months.
One of the biggest advantages of on-campus games was that, for at least two of the four fan bases, the concern of traveling two consecutive weekends — semifinal, championship game — would have been somewhat mitigated. Hollis told the media at the Big Ten meetings today that he hopes the NCAA will consider helping families financially with travel expenses now that the on-campus option is no longer a possibility.
The leaders of the game expect to have a final decision on where the games will be contested and how the teams will be selected in 2014 and beyond by the end of July at the latest.