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.”

Pair of Alabama defenders undergo surgery after Tide’s spring game

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Alabama’s spring game wrapped up on Saturday and with it, the last of the Crimson Tide’s spring practices. While that means the coaching staff is free to fly across the country to visit recruits during the evaluation period, it also results in several players going under the knife to correct injuries in order to be back by fall camp.

Two of those players are starting cornerback Anthony Averett and (likely starting) linebacker Christian Miller, both of whom underwent sports hernia surgery this week according to AL.com.

The report states that Averett played with the hernia most of last season while the Tide marched their way to the national title game. Miller was one of the stars of the show on Saturday during Alabama’s spring game, recording two sacks while dealing with the injury.

Both are expected to be fully healthy for camp in August as Nick Saban and company vie for yet another conference title and berth in the College Football Playoff.

SEC commissioner hints at review of rules regarding alcohol sales in football stadiums

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The prohibition of alcohol at football stadiums has undergone one interesting about-face in college athletics the past 15 years or so. While various suite levels at stadiums across the country have generally had access to a few adult beverages, there’s been some very large programs that have opened up the taps in the general seating areas the last few years.

From West Virginia to Texas to Ohio State, more and more programs are selling beer and/or liquor across the board and raking in hundreds of thousands (if not millions) in added revenue while doing so. One conference that isn’t jumping in on that trend however has been the SEC, which has numerous restrictions on where those types of beverages can be sold. That may be about to change in the near future however according to SEC commissioner Greg Sankey.

“At some point, I’m relatively certain, there will be further review of the prohibition,” said Sankey on Monday, per The Tuscaloosa News. “That doesn’t predict any outcome.”

While you may think that the league is close to opening the floodgates on alcohol being served at stadiums across the conference, you probably shouldn’t jump to any conclusions on the matter as Sankey seemed to hold his ground and stand firm on keeping things as is right now.

“The conference has a policy that says that we’re not selling alcohol in the general seating area,” he added. “Now, you can agree or disagree with that policy, but that’s the policy. The basis for changing that or maintaining it is one that’s developed in the conversation.

“I think we were at like 98 percent ticket sales in football… So is that one-percent margin a trade that we’re going to make?”

It’s no secret that of-age fans can easily find a few beverages at SEC tailgates prior to games nowadays but it seems momentum is slowing building in the conference to allow fans to buy some during a game. It might not happen anytime in the very near future but the conversation is certainly going to keep popping up each year with many more schools across the country jumping in on this trend.

QB Malik Zaire reportedly sets timetable for transfer decision while adding Harvard to the mix

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While we don’t yet know where former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire is transferring to, we might have an idea of when he plans on making a move this offseason.

Per Orangebloods.com’s Anwar Richardson, the signal-caller has zeroed in on the end of May for an announcement on his new school in a timetable that coincides with the Irish’s graduation ceremonies. Perhaps just as interesting is the fact that there may also be a new school in the mix and it’s known for being a powerhouse of a different kind away from the gridiron.

“In addition, I was told a new school is in the mix. Zaire is still considering Texas, Wisconsin and Florida, and the grad transfer quarterback has added Harvard to his short list. It remains unclear how serious Zaire is about playing Ivy League football. If he does go that route, Harvard would be his landing spot.”

The Ivy League power is an interesting new destination for Zaire and could be a pretty good backup option given what’s going on at his other finalists.

While Texas and Wisconsin are both on his shortlist, both the Longhorns and Badgers return their starting quarterbacks from last season in Shane Buechele and Alex Hornibrook. Richardson reports that Zaire wants to start in 2017 and not hold a clipboard but he is still keeping his options opens when it comes to the thin depth charts at the position in both Austin and Madison.

Complicating things is Florida, which should be a prime landing spot for Zaire were it not for an SEC rule passed last year that is preventing him from transferring him there this offseason. The league is set to talk about changes to that rule at their spring meetings in Destin, Fla. but it remains unclear if the QB will wait and see before making a decision (and it’s entirely possible the SEC keeps things as they are).

Either way, the former Irish starter does not appear to be lacking options when it comes to the graduate transfer market.

Tennessee hires College Football Playoff CFO for administrative role

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Tennessee might not be a favorite to make the College Football Playoff in 2017 but the school is doing their best to bring a little bit of the sport’s postseason to Knoxville.

Athletic director John Currie announced on Tuesday that the Vols would be hiring the College Football Playoff’s Chief Financial Officer Reid Sigmon as Tennessee’s new Executive Associate Athletics Director and Chief Operating Officer. The hire isn’t too surprising considering the two worked together for several years at Kansas State in very similar roles.

“It is with great enthusiasm that I welcome Reid Sigmon to the Tennessee Athletics family,” Currie said in a statement. “He has earned national credibility as part of a visionary leadership group creating the College Football Playoff organization for the last four years, and his tremendous integrity and understanding of college athletics make him a perfect addition to our Tennessee leadership team.”

Sigmon served in a variety of roles in college athletics as well as the NFL before eventually landing with the College Football Playoff. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that he starts at Tennessee on May 15 with a salary of $285,000 per year.