Updated: New Orleans will host ‘Champions Bowl’

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Good news, everyone. You can stop calling the “Champions Bowl” the Champions Bowl and start calling it the Sugar Bowl.

According to ESPN.com, New Orleans has been selected as the site for the bowl game that will also reportedly serve as a rotating site for the semifinal round of college football’s new playoff beginning after the 2014 season. In other words, the Sugar Bowl is adding a Big 12 tie-in. New Orleans beat out the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Tx., and the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta, among others. The “Champions Bowl” title was simply a placeholder.

The first Sugar Bowl with the Big 12 tie-in will take place Jan. 1, 2015. The deal is for 12 years.

All other details in the report have been known for a while. For instance, in the event that either the Big 12 champion or SEC champion is selected to the four-team playoff, the respective conference would select another team. In the event that the bowl is selected as a semifinal game, it would not host the SEC – Big 12 matchup. The expected payout from the bowl is, again, reported to be $80 million.

The other bowls expected to be among the six rotating semifinal sites are the Rose, Orange, Cotton, Fiesta and Chick-fil-A. There is a possibility of a seventh “access bowl”, but that has yet to be nailed down. So far, the Rose, Orange and Sugar have conference tie-ins; the other three access bowls are expected to be filled with at-large teams (the Fiesta Bowl’s tie-in with the Big 12 ends after 2014).

The Cotton Bowl in Arlington was the other finalist for the ‘Champions Bowl’. Now that New Orleans has secured the bid for the next dozen years, don’t be surprised if JerryWorld hosts the 2015 college football championship game, which will be held at a neutral site.

Updated 6:36 p.m. ET: And now it’s official. The SEC and Big 12 have announced that the Sugar Bowl will host the champions of the respective conferences. Here’s a portion of the release from the SEC:

“New Orleans and the Sugar Bowl are synonymous with post-season college football.  For many years, fans have enjoyed the color and pageantry that New Orleans offers,” said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive.  The Mercedes-Benz Superdome has hosted many Super Bowls, Sugar Bowls and National Championship Games and having teams from the Big 12 and the SEC in a post-season college football game together only adds to this list.  We look forward to competing against the Big 12 as a new championship tradition begins on New Year’s Day.”
               
“From the moment this game was announced, there has been tremendous excitement associated with the collaboration between these two conferences.  That excitement is reflected in the bids received to host this game.  There were great cities, attractive destinations, and impressive venues to consider,” commented Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby.   Now Big 12 fans can look forward to a New Year’s tradition and coming to New Orleans to support their team.  We are thrilled about our long-term association with our SEC colleagues and to be in partnership with the Allstate Sugar Bowl.“     
               
“We’re pleased to have been selected to host this great game.  This gives us the chance to extend the Sugar Bowl’s long-standing relationship with the Southeastern Conference and to develop a new relationship with the Big 12 Conference,” said Paul Hoolahan, Chief Executive Officer of the Allstate Sugar Bowl.  “The result will be, without a doubt, one of college football’s best bowl games on an annual basis, one that brings tremendous national prestige and millions of dollars in economic impact to our city and state over the New Year’s holiday.  We look forward to the tremendous promise this game, and these two great conferences, have to offer.”
               
“This is a great day for the Sugar Bowl Committee, the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana.  What this means for our city and state is hard to fully explain,” said Jack Laborde, President of the Allstate Sugar Bowl.  “With the privilege of hosting this game comes a national spotlight, a position at the top of the college football world and untold tourism dollars.  We couldn’t be happier and are grateful for the opportunity.”

Colorado AD says Denver won’t be option for future CU-CSU games after 2020

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Colorado and Colorado State are scheduled to wrap up their current scheduling agreement in 2020, and the future of the in-state rivalry remains in question beyond that. Both schools are in talks to continue the series beyond 2020 once scheduling vacancies are available, but there is no target date currently in sight. What is known, however, is any such scheduling arrangement will not include games being played in Denver if Colorado’s athletics director has his say.

We won’t have any future games in Denver with CSU in any kind of new relationship,” Colorado athletic director Rick George said in a story published by The Daily Camera.  George did state he and his counterpart at Colorado State, Joe Parker, share an interest in keeping the series going on in the years beyond the current deal in place.

As it stands right now, Colorado State will host the final game in the current arrangement in 2020. No games will be possible in 2021 and 2022 because Colorado’s non-conference schedule is currently booked. The Buffs will face UMass, Texas A&M, and Minnesota in 2021 and TCU, Air Force, and Minnesota in 2022. Colorado currently has scheduling vacancies in 2023 and beyond, making 2023 the earliest possible year the series could be rekindled. The concern, at least for Colorado, will be overexerting the strength of schedule with games against TCU and Nebraska already lined up in 2023.

“With this College Football Playoff game now, there’s a lot of discussion on strength of schedules,” George said. “We certainly don’t want to over-schedule ourselves, but at the same time, we want to be in a position as we continue to compete on a yearly basis for championships, we want to be in the conversation. We don’t want the schedule to be a deterrent to us longer term.”

Geroge has previously expressed his interest in continuing the series if it could be agreed to play the games on campus sites instead of neutral fields. George has said it is not in Colorado’s best interest to continue the series. His latest statements about the strength of schedule keep in line with that logic. Having a potentially very good Group of Five program on top of previously announced games against power conference opponents in addition to a nine-game Pac-12 schedule becomes quite challenging. Having a less threatening opponent from the FCS provides a better chance to keep making money on a home game and increasing the chances for a win to rely on.

Colorado and Colorado State have faced off 88 times since 1893, with the Buffs holding a 64-22-2 edge in the all-time series. Colorado won last year’s meeting in Denver by a score of 44-7 for its most lopsided victory in the series since a 47-7 victory in Boulder in 1956. Colorado and Colorado State have played annually since 1995.

Mark Richt tweets his best wishes to Georgia

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A new college football season is just about here (there will be actual college football played this week), and Miami head coach Mark Richt has plenty to look forward to with the Hurricanes. A show at coaching Miami to its first appearance in the ACC Championship Game is right in front of him, but Richt spent a quick moment on Twitter to extended his best wishes to his former program; the Georgia Bulldogs.

Richt recruited the majority of the players currently on Georgia’s roster, and by all accounts, Richt had as healthy a relationship with Georgia’s players than any coach could hope to have. With that in mind, there is no shock in seeing a coach of one program offer this kind of warm and fuzzy feeling to his former program. This is also not the first time Richt has wished Georgia well under new head coach Kirby Smart. In May 2016, Richt was praised for his classiness toward Smart and Georgia for the upcoming season just months after being fired.

Georgia parted ways with Richt following the 2015 season despite a long and successful tenure as head coach (although without as many SEC titles as some would have liked, and a lack of national title appearances during a run that saw the SEC dominate the BCS era). Richt was quickly hired by Miami, and this season Richt is expected to help lead the Hurricanes forward another step toward national prominence.

If there is a college football god watching from the skies above, then we will be blessed with a bowl matchup between Miami and Georgia. Richt said in December 2015 that he believes the two programs are on a collision course for a national championship.

There is a solar eclipse tomorrow, but Nick Saban has work to do

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Stores may be sold out of special solar eclipse glasses for what some are dubbing the Great American Eclipse on Monday, but Alabama head coach Nick Saban may be more likely to be found in his office preparing for a mega matchup to open the season next week.

Besides, Saban has seen how an eclipse works already because he is a devoted fan of The Weather Channel.

“I watch the Weather Channel every day,” Saban said Saturday, according to AL.com. “They’re already saying what it’s going to look like in every city in America. So, what’s going to be significant? Watch the Weather Channel and you’ll see what it’s going to be like in Portland, Oregon.”

That Saban sure is a curmudgeon, isn’t he? But that’s part of the legacy of Saban. Unless the eclipse can help Alabama win a game against Florida State in Atlanta next week, Saban has little time to worry about such nonsense. Otherwise, it is business as usual for Saban and Alabama. However, Saban will allow his players to take advantage of what is, for some, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“We’ll set it up so if the players want to go out there and get some sunglasses, I guess they can,” Saban said.

The eclipse is having a slight impact on some football practices around the country, including in the NFL. The Tennessee Titans, for example, have modified their practice schedule for Monday due to the eclipse and will organize a team party around the event.

“I thought what a cool thing to do, but then I thought I’d like them to finish practice and give them time to put the glasses on and really enjoy the experience,” Titans head coach Mike Mularkey said (per ESPN.com). “I wanted to be on the field when it happened, as a team, I thought it’d be a neat memory for these guys.”

Clearly, Mularkey is not watching the Weather Channel on a daily basis.

Kansas surprised four walk-ons with scholarships at Royals-Indians game

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There has been no shortage of videos and stories about walk-ons at various college football programs receiving scholarships by surprise. It is an annual tradition around college football during the offseason, and the fun and pure joy of the moment never gets old.

The Kansas Jayhawks took the game to a whole new level, and a whole new playing field this weekend.

Kansas took its football team out on Friday night to enjoy a Major League Baseball game between the Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians. During the course of the game, four walk-on players — defensive end Mazin Aqi, offensive lineman Beau Lawrence, punter Cole Moos, and running back Reese Randall — were shown sitting next to each other on the video screen in Kauffman Stadium. As they were shown on the screen, a message popped up congratulating them on being awarded a scholarship.

Video of the players soaking in the moment and realizing they had just had their lives changed was captured by the Royals.

It sure beats the heck out of a stadium proposal.