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North Dakota State brings new meaning to “championship drive”

North Dakota State team

It is Friday afternoon, which tends to mean things can get a little slow as we head into the weekend. Fortunately, North Dakota State decided to have a little fun and make some people smile* with this photo of its four national championship trophies going for a Friday drive.

Judging by this photo, seen on the North Dakota State Facebook page, the national championship trophies are practicing safety first by wearing their respective seatbelts.


North Dakota State won the 2014 Division 1 championship by defeating Illinois State. The previous year the Bison defeated Towson for the national title, and the previous two years saw North Dakota State beat Sam Houston State for the championship. North Dakota State’s championship drive will continue this season as the Bison will likely be the team to beat once again in the land of the FCS. North Dakota State will not play any FBS opponents in 2015, but a trip to Iowa is on the schedule for 2016. The 2015 season will kick off against Montana on August 29 in Missoula, Montana.

* With the possible exception of fans of Sam Houston State, Towson and Illinois State. Apologies to you.

Helmet sticker to Reddit.

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NCAA: Oklahoma State did not fail to monitor football program

Oklahoma State did not follow its drug testing policy and allowed the Orange Pride to host prospective student-athletes. The result? A one-year probation, the suspension of the Orange Pride program and $8,500 in fines on top of university-imposed recruiting restrictions.

The NCAA released a statement outlining the mild sanctions handed to Oklahoma State Friday afternoon. The violations are the result of a previous investigative story published by Sports Illustrated last year. The report was quick to be torn to shreds from any number of critics of the evidence and information reported, and perhaps the severity of the original report can be summed up best by the light punishment extended by the enforcement hand of the NCAA.

The NCAA opened its investigation into Oklahoma State following the publication of the Sports Illustrated story. The investigation included a review of over 50,000 emails and about 90 different interviews with current and former student-athletes, coaches, staff members and boosters. The end result was the NCAA determined many of the allegations reported by Sports Illustrated were unfounded, according to the NCAA statement. But Oklahoma State did not get off without some criticism.

Accusations the program did not follow its drug testing program were confirmed by the NCAA, stating suspensions for players violating the banned substance rules had suspensions determined on a case-by-case basis. This led to five players competing on the field in seven games they should have been suspended. There was no mention of which games were included, nor is there a mention of vacating any victories. Instead, part of the $8,500 in fines includes a $500 payment by Oklahoma State for each of the seven games a player should have been suspended.

On the recruiting side of the punishment, Oklahoma State self-imposed a reduction in coaches participating in off-campus evaluations by one and the reduction of total evaluation days by 10 in the fall and spring through the 2015-2016 calendar.

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Trollin’ Jim Harbaugh invites ALL coaches to Michigan football camp

Michigan Football Spring Game

If you are not following Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh on Twitter, you should probably take care of that right now. At the end of a week that has been filled with talk and debate about satellite camps, Harbaugh took to Twitter to extend an open invitation to all college football coaches to join he and his staff in Ann Arbor this summer.

It is already being considered a Grade-A troll move, and there is likely no coincidence it looks that way.

Just this week we have been talking about comments from Alabama’s regarding the ridiculousness of satellite camp rules, the perception of a loophole being exploited by northern coaches (in addition to Harbaugh, Penn State’s James Franklin and Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly have taken advantage of the satellite camp rules). Folks in the ACC are not pleased either, but willing to adapt. The NCAA is also expecting to address the satellite camp discussion in the football rules oversight committee.

One question that should be asked is how many coaches from the Big Ten will accept the open invite? Imagine the scene if Mark Dantonio or Urban Meyer or Franklin showed up in Ann Arbor to work at the camp. It is an open invite after all.

This much we know; coaches from the ACC and SEC will not be sending in any R.S.V.P. replies, although they are invited to be a keynote speaker by Harbaugh. Their conferences do not allow for that possibility.

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ASU’s Todd Graham says scheduling cupcakes is un-American

Todd Graham

Keep this in mind the next time Arizona State schedules an easy opponent. Todd Graham, head coach of the Sun Devils, says scheduling easy games is un-American. God bless Todd Graham.

Graham’s comments on non-conference scheduling stem from a discussion regarding the College Football Playoff, which has many believing the emphasis on strength of schedule will help the game overall. It will, unquestionably. If the goal is to see more attractive games between power conference programs, then fans should benefit from the College Football Playoff era with schools not wanting to be left out of the playoff at the end of the year the way Baylor was in 2014.

“We need to consider what the fans want,” Graham said, according to “Fans don’t want to see you schedule four easy wins, then get two conference wins to get into a bowl game. That’s un-American.”

For the record, Arizona State has a game scheduled against Cal Poly this season and Northern Arizona in 2016. The Sun Devils also have a game against Texas A&M in Houston this fall and a home-and-home with Texas Tech starting in 2016.

But just as you start to think Graham is speaking for America with his thoughts on non-conference scheduling, he then takes a turn toward communism on other thoughts regarding scheduling.

“Here’s the issue with college football. It should be equal for everybody,” said Graham. “Everybody should play nine conference games. Why nine games instead of eight? Because you play one more conference game that your fans want to see instead of scheduling a team that no one wants to see because you’re scheduling wins and don’t want to be out of the four-team playoff.”

Before we had debates over satellite camps, we had debates over eight-game vs. nine-game conference schedules. Simply put, what works well for one conference does not necessarily make for the best scheduling approach for the other. The Big 12’s nine-game schedule makes sense for a 10-member league. The Pac-12 plays a nine-game conference schedule and the Big Ten has joined the nine-game party. Meanwhile the ACC and SEC remain with eight-game conference schedules, but with the non-scheduling requirement to schedule at least one game against another power conference opponent.

Some things in college football should be equal for everybody. Non-conference scheduling does not need to be one.

Helmet sticker to House of Sparky.

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Hugh Freeze’s spring game idea is not new, and it’s not likely to happen

Hugh Freeze

The spring football season is drawing to a close with a decent handful of teams in action this weekend. Every spring seems to have one idea come up as a new and innovative idea, but it really is not new at all. The idea of having teams play a scrimmage against another school is back in the discussion thanks to Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze, who endorsed the idea this week.

I would love to see us be able to scrimmage another team,” Freeze said in a radio interview in Nashville, according to The Clarion-Ledger. “That way you can go ones on ones, twos on twos, threes on threes – really get something out of it.”

Freeze’s idea sounds good, and has some merit. Again, this is nothing we have not heard before, especially in recent years. Having the opportunity to go up against another team can have benefits as you can see how players react in certain situations against players and schemes they may not have seen during the spring practices. It also allows for an opportunity to work on some skills and potential game plans against certain styles of offenses or defenses. But the odds of getting a pair of FBS programs together, even if allowed by the NCAA, is not the most feasible idea due to financial requirements. So what does Freeze recommend?

“Maybe even adopt a charity. Maybe it’s a 1-AA opponent that you don’t play in the regular season,” Freeze suggested. “I think there would be a lot of interest in something like that. I wish we could do something like that.”

This is an idea that would have more traction than a scrimmage against another FBS program. There could be some benefits to take from this as well, on both sides. We already see this kind of exhibition idea in college basketball, with Division 1 programs often scrimmaging with a Division 2 school before officially opening the regular season. This would be the equivalent, and it would be entirely optional. What do you think? Would you be more interested in seeing a school like Ole Miss take on an FCS opponent in a spring scrimmage as a replacement for a traditional spring game or scrimmage?

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No college football abroad in Ireland in 2016

Penn State and UCF opened the 2014 season in Ireland in the Croke Park Classic last season, and it seems it might be the last college football game played in Ireland for at least a few more years. Plans for a potential game in 2016 have been put on ice, and economics are apparently to blame.

“The strength of the dollar against the euro means that the staging of the game at Croke Park was no longer viable for the Association without significant support from government agencies,” a statement from the Gaelic Athletic Association in Ireland said. That financial support was nowhere to be found for the 2016 plans.

This brings a disappointing end to the planning for the next college football game in Ireland, but it appears the writing had been on the wall. The 2016 event, long rumored to include ACC opponents Boston College and Georgia Tech, was supposed to be formally announced on St. Patrick’s Day, but never was. That led many following the developments of the game to believe the game may not happen at all. The planning involved with a game like this requires plenty of time to plan and budget for all parties involved, and the delaying of an announcement did not look good.

So as things stand now, Boston College and Georgia Tech will move forward with the expectation of playing their regular season meeting on American soil. Boston College is scheduled to host the Yellow Jackets, although the exact date of the game has not been determined by the ACC (the ACC will not release the 2016 schedule until early next year). The rumored plans originally suggested Boston College and Georgia Tech would meet in Ireland later in the season as opposed to a season-opening game like Penn State and UCF played in 2014.

Does this mean college football will never return to Ireland? That is probably not the case, especially since ACC commissioner John Swofford has said before he would like to see the conference explore overseas opportunities in the future. A return to Ireland should not be considered out of the mix, just not in 2016.

Helmet sticker to BC Interruption.

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Study: UAB football proved financially viable


In March, the task force evaluating UAB’s decision to cancel its football program hired California-based consulting firm OSKR to produce an independent analysis of the financial number-crunching used to justify cutting the sport. Less than a month later UAB fired OSKR and hired Collegiate Sports Solutions out of concerns that OSKR, the same group that consulted on behalf of the plaintiffs in the Ed O’Bannon vs. the NCAA trial, could not provide an unbiased report. Still, OSKR continued on with its study, and the 156-page findings compiled by Daniel Rascher and Andrew Schwartz were released Thursday.

And they don’t look good for UAB.

“We find that the three sports in question did not cost the university anywhere near the $3.75 million indicated on UAB’s accounting statements,” the pair wrote. “Instead, after making the sort of adjustments suggested by the economics literature, we conclude that the three sports were effectively break-even to slightly positive. Football and bowling showed a modest positive return for 2013-14, the last year for which complete data was available. Rifle showed a deficit, but the three-sport balance was positive to the tune of $75,000.”

OSKR differs from UAB’s conclusions on two main points. First, the cost of the 85 required scholarships, the consultants say, are 65 percent less than what the university reported; OSKR cited the a full scholarship’s actual cost to the university, rather than the price UAB would have otherwise charged a regular student. Second, OSKR says UAB did not properly account for rising revenues from the College Football Playoff and increased ticket sales generated by a successful debut season under head coach Bill Clark.

Not only could the school afford to keep its football (as well as rifle and bowling) program, it could also afford to provide cost of attendance scholarships. “We conclude that going forward, anticipated improvement in ticket sales from 2013-14 levels and new College Football Playoff revenues will outpace new expenses from Cost of Attendance stipends and unlimited food allowances,” OSKR wrote. “Once these new revenues and expenses kick in, we anticipate the aggregate annual surplus from football, bowling, and rifle would exceed $500,000, even without including the anticipated but hard-to-quantify benefits to admissions and enrollment, donations, and media exposure.”

What does this report mean in the real world? Likely nothing. It’s more ammunition for those that would like to see UAB president Ray Watts removed from his post, but nothing more than that. UAB commissioned the study to provide a third-party analysis ahead of annual Conference USA meetings in June. The conference has hinted it may boot the Blazers from the conference, citing a bylaw that all of its institutions must sponsor a football program. UAB would like to remain in the conference, and Collegiate Sports Solutions’s report – not OSKR’s – will be what UAB uses to justify its decision.

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Former Tennessee DL Michael Sawyers charged with felony theft

KNOXVILLE, TN - Football Headshots

A little more than a week after felony theft charges against Tennessee offensive lineman Coleman Thomas were dismissed, former Vols defensive lineman Michael Sawyers has been charged with the same crime.

Thomas was originally accused of stealing an XBox and three video games in a March 25 incident, but a three week investigation by the Knox County District Attorney’s office found no evidence against him, so it dropped the charges.

The DA’s evidence found evidence against Sawyers, and it was of the self-incriminating variety. According to the Associated Press, “police said Sawyers sent a text message to the original owner of the games in which he apologized for pawning the items and offered to buy him a new Xbox.”

Sawyers was booked Wednesday and released on $1,000 bond.

A rising sophomore, Sawyers was dismissed from the team on Feb. 4 for what head coach Butch Jones described as “violations of athletic and team policies.” The Antioch, Tenn., native saw action in four games as a freshman, collecting two tackles.

(Photo credit: Tennessee athletics)
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East Carolina commissions feasibility study for Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium renovations

Connecticut v East Carolina

College football’s largest pirate ship is about to get some new sails and a sturdier plank.

East Carolina announced Thursday it has partnered with Conventions, Sports & Leisure International to conduct a feasibility study into renovating 50,000-seat, 52-year-old Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

“Our fans have created one of the best game-day environments in college football,” East Carolina athletics director Jeff Compher said in a statement. “Not only have they earned a justified voice in this process, but I would like to think it’s also a wise business decision to ask customers about customer service.”

The school will look into adding premium seats (suites, loge boxes, club seats) in the south end zone, a hospitality tent or club on the west end of the stadium, tailgate and parking upgrades and improved technology in “premium areas.”

East Carolina said it plans to reach out to fans for feedback.

“To make responsible and sound decisions, it is critical we are fully aware of what and where the interest level is,” Compher said. “This survey will be an important element of that fact-gathering process and to determine what our potential resources are.”

In other words: get out your checkbooks, folks.

A timeline for cranes in the air has not been released, and the school is making no promises in terms of areas of focus. East Carolina most recently added a club level to Dowdy-Ficklen in 1999, but its south side has not been expanded since 1978.

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PHOTOS: Michigan State debuts new alternate uniform

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Every uniform has to have a story these days.

To those within the uniform industry, it’s not enough to come out and say, “We designed new uniforms for Program X because they wanted some new uniforms and, let’s be honest, they could use a merchandising bump. Why’d we pick this design? Oh, well, we thought it looked good.”

No, uniforms have to be sleek and functional. They have to honor the past while attacking the future. They have to reflect said team’s values and style of play. They’re not uniforms, but walking, sprinting brand testimonials.

Aggravating at this trend may be, one doesn’t have to jump through many mental hoops to find a theme for a Michigan State alternative uniform. “They’re the Spartans, so, yeah, let’s go with that.” According to Nike p.r. director Heidi Burgett, these new kits are inspired by “Spartan shields & the phalanx battle formation.”

In an unveiling leading into this weekend’s spring game, Michigan State unveiled new uniforms inspired by the Spartans of old. And, to be honest, they’re not half bad.

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(Photos via @heidiburgett)

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Rush Limbaugh approves of Jim Harbaugh’s take on football’s value in American culture

Michigan Football Spring Game

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh appeared on the latest edition of HBO’s Real Sports this week, in which Andrea Kremer gives an inside look at the man behind the square jaw and khaki pants. (My favorite part? The time Harbaugh, a third-grader determined to become an NFL quarterback, defeated his own genetics by the sheer power of his own iron will and drinking as much milk as his stomach would allow, allowing him to grow into his 6-foot-3 frame, three inches taller than brother John and anyone else in the Harbaugh clan.)

In what is becoming a near-daily occurrence, Harbaugh opened his mouth and started printing headlines. This time around it was his take on football’s place in American culture. “It’s not a fun sport, but what you come to love is the struggle of it. I love football. Love it. Love it,” Harbaugh said. “I think it’s the last bastion of hope for toughness in America in men, in males. I want to do it for as long as I’m good at it, and I love Michigan.”

As per custom on Real SportsBryant Gumbel discussed the interview with Kremer, and the host was struck by Harbaugh’s football-as-last-stand comment. “Andrea, I want to make sure I get this right. Football, the last bastion of hope for toughness in America in males? Not exactly a quote for the Age of Enlightenment.”

That quote, and Gumbel’s reaction, jumped the rails from the sports page to the political realm, as Rush Limbaugh chimed in with his take on Harbaugh’s take.

“I think this is profound and it’s interesting. I’m glad Jim Harbaugh said what he said, and I’m glad that Gumbel reacted to it the way he did,” Limbaugh said (via Nick Baumgardner of “I think this kind of illumination is good. In other words, Gumbel epitomizes the modern day cultural left. He simply epitomizes it, and to him, any notion of toughness in men, and a last bastion of hope, and football being representative and an example of toughness in America, is somehow unacceptable! Would John Wayne be put in jail today? Would John Wayne be ridiculed and mocked? Would they say of John Wayne that he was a poor role model and a bad influence for young American men who are simply trying to feel their way along on campus? That’s a bad choice of words. Men who are simply trying to find their way along on campus. If any of you had a doubt that modern day liberalism features among many of its other qualities and objectives, an all-out assault on manliness, you have evidence of the contrary right here. It clearly is.

I’ve got to be honest here, I’m not sure how that relates. But wait, there’s more.

“Now, you might translate that and think and say that Harbaugh thinks the country’s male population is being wussified, that the male population is being tamed, the male population is being neutered. Here comes Harbaugh saying, ‘Yeah, well, we got one last hope: Football. Football is the last bastion of hope for toughness.’ So Harbaugh believes in toughness in men, he believes in toughness in America, he believes in toughness in American men. You damn well want it in your Special Forces, gang. You want it with the Navy SEALs. You want it all over the United States military.

“You want manliness, you want toughness, you want bravery, you want courage. Yet that’s controversial today, in the Age of Enlightenment, as spewed there by Bryant Gumbel. Because in the Age of Enlightenment, football doesn’t have any attributes like this anymore. No, no, no! Football kills. Football leads to permanent brain damage and football leads to suicide. Football leads to crime. Football leads to a crime rate among people that play in the NFL that is less than the gen pop, the general population. The numbers have been run. It’s just that people who play football are stars and, as such, what they do occurs with greater media scrutiny. So when one of them happens to engage in some sort of questionable behavior, it happens to (in a lot of it people’s minds) speak for the whole sport and everybody that plays it.”

It’s not the first time something Harbaugh said turned into a political statement. Two weeks ago, in fact, Harbaugh vowed to show the Clint Eastwood/Bradley Cooper film “American Sniper” after an earlier planned showing was cancelled amidst complaints led by Muslim and Arab students.

The university later reversed its reversal and showed the film as planned.

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Time to calm down with Braxton Miller to Alabama rumors, for now

Braxton Miller

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller is the subject of much intrigue. The two-time Silver Football winner in the Big Ten strangely seems to be the odd man out in Columbus according to a number of college football minds, which almost seems unfathomable for a player many would have thrown in the Heisman Trophy race last season if not for a preseason shoulder surgery. Eligible for a transfer as a graduated senior, Miller could easily answer a quarterback question for any team in need, including Alabama. Recent trips to Alabama have some thinking the plan for a Miller-to-Alabama transfer is in the works, but let’s take a step back and realize what’s more likely to be happening here.

Former Alabama linebacker Trey DePriest is friends with Miller and says the quarterback’s trips to Alabama have been spent visiting Dr. James Andrews, who performed shoulder surgery on Miller last summer. Since the operation, Miller has visited Andrews for follow-up appointments and some rehab. This is nothing out of the ordinary, and DePriest says that is all there is to it.

“He wasn’t coming down here to visit me,” DePriest said in a report from “He just had shoulder surgery, and that’s where he does his rehab, in Birmingham, so he was like 35 minutes away.”

“To be honest with you, we don’t even talk about it,” DePriest said. “When we talk, we talk more as friends because I know everyone is in his ear about all that, so I just try to leave it alone. But I really don’t know because it’s hard to get a feel from him, and I really don’t try to get a feel from him to be honest with you.”

If Miller does transfer, he will be eligible to play this fall. Of course, he has said before he intends to stay at Ohio State and he could still battle to regain the starting job from either J.T. Barrett or Cardale Jones if his shoulder is in good form.

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Spartans vs. Ducks, Buckeyes vs. Nittany Lions added to Big Ten primetime schedule

Brandon Bell, J.T. Barrett

The latest batch of Big Ten primetime games has been announced, and three of them will feature the defending national champions from Ohio State. The Buckeyes have been given three primetime kickoffs for the 2015 schedule by ESPN, including a pair of home games in Ohio Stadium.

Ohio State’s home games against Penn State (Saturday, October 17) and Minnesota (Saturday, November 7) will air on national television under the lights. Ohio State-Penn State has been locked into an 8 p.m. eastern time slot and will air on either ABC, ESPN or ESPN 2. The November 7 game against Minnesota, a year after the Gophers gave Ohio State a run in the snow, will be played at either 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.

Another high profile game involving a Big Ten team will be given primetime treatment earlier in the season. Michigan State’s regular season rematch with defending Pac-12 champion Oregon will be played at 8 p.m. on Saturday, September 12 in East Lansing. Michigan State let a road win slip away in Eugene last September in week two, and the Ducks may be in the perfect spot to take a loss early on with a new starting quarterback leading the Oregon offense.

All Big Ten primetime games announced by ESPN Thursday afternoon include:

September 3 (Thursday): Minnesota vs. TCU, 9 p.m., ESPN

September 12: Michigan State vs. Oregon, 8 p.m., ABC, ESPN or ESPN2

October 17: Ohio State vs. Penn State, 8 p.m., ABC, ESPN or ESPN2

October 24: Rutgers vs. Ohio State, 8 p.m., ABC, ESPN or ESPN2

October 31: Minnesota vs. Michigan, 7 or 8 p.m., ABC, ESPN or ESPN2

November 7: Ohio State vs. Minnesota, 7 or 8 p.m., ABC, ESPN or ESPN2

November 7: Nebraska vs. Michigan State, 7 or 8 p.m., ABC, ESPN or ESPN2

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ACC stands firmly against satellite camps, but ready to adapt if needed

John Swofford

When it comes to a number of issues facing the sport of college football, the ACC tends to fall in the same boat as the SEC. On the topic of coaches working at satellite camps, the ACC stands firm with the ACC for now, but is ready to adapt if needed.

ACC commissioner John Swofford says the ACC continue to push to have NCAA bylaws close any potential loopholes that allow for coaches from the Big Ten to work at camps outside the Big Ten footprint, specifically in the south in ACC and SEC territory. But if no changes are made, Swofford says the ACC may be quick to change the conference rules and allow its coaches to work at camps outside of its regular boundaries.

Right now we intend to keep our conference agreement [with the SEC] as is and push for a national rule that prohibits it,” Swofford said in an interview with Heather Dinnich of on Thursday. “We just don’t feel like it’s a healthy part of the recruiting process in college football. We may have to ultimately reconsider it if the rules continue to allow it, because we’re not going to put ourselves at a competitive disadvantage in recruiting if we were to feel like we were disadvantaged, but our primary purpose right now is to try to gain support for a national rule that prohibits it.”

Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Louisville’s Bobby Petrino have joined the army of critics of perceived loophole sin NCAA bylaws related to football camps. The ACC and sEC prohibit their coaches from working at camps out-of-state, but the Big Ten allows its coaches to work at camps anywhere in the country. Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh and Penn State’s James Franklin are taking full advantage of those opportunities to coach around the country this summer. So is Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly, which may be another cause for some unpleasantness within the ACC with the relationship the conference has with the Irish.

Earlier in the day NCAA President Mark Emmert said the Football Rules Oversight Committee will have this subject at the top of the agenda later this year.


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Rose Bowl makes refreshing decision to not bid for 2020 CFB Playoff championship

2014 Rose Bowl Game

The Grandaddy of them all will not host the biggest game of them all (well, in college football at least) in 2020. Officials with the Rose Bowl thought about it carefully, but opted not to place a bid to host the national championship game of the College Football Playoff.

“We would love to host a national championship game here,” said Rose Bowl executive director William Flinn to Chris DuFresne. “We’re not going to put a bid out on a hope and a prayer.”

Championship game sites for 2018, 2019 and 2020 will be awarded later this year by the College Football Playoff. Judging by the quote from Flinn, the folks in charge of the top bowl game in the college football world are not prepared to place a bid on the chance of being rejected for the hosting rights. This is interesting, because what would be the odds the Rose Bowl would be turned down by any the CFB Playoff over any other options? It all comes down to money.

As reported by DuFresne, host cities are expected to spend between $13 million and $20 million to host the championship game, guarantee 10,000 hotel rooms, provide VIP transportation and organize various special events and parties leading up to the championship game. A relative lack of luxury suites in Rose Bowl Stadium also comes into play, with just 54 luxury suites available.

The atmosphere of a championship game in the Rose Bowl Stadium may be the most genuine a setting college football could ask for, but it is not college football that is making the decision. It is the greed of the College Football Playoff. To see the Rose Bowl turn down the opportunity to bid on the championship game is actually refreshing, because it is one way of saying no to the branded image of the new postseason.

Of course, the Rose Bowl is still a big part of that, and the stadium will still host a high-quality game in 2020, so the game is not losing much either.

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