This offseason we will count down various topics from Monday through Friday, bringing you the top five of the important and definitely some not so important issues in college football. It's the Doc Five, every week until we will thankfully have actual games to discuss.
WAYS TO MAKE COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S FINAL FOUR PERFECT
NO. 5, PICK THE RIGHT VENUES
College basketball has perfected its playoff.
The popularity of that sport's tournament compared to the regular season is a testament to how well it has developed and marketed its marquee event. College football is undeniably more popular and important in the landscape of college athletics (look at how football drove the bus in realignment if you wish to disagree), but as a whole its bowls don't come close to moving the needle like March Madness. There's a counter argument that the monster that has become the NCAA tournament has turned college basketball into a one-month sport with a regular season that is completely overshadowed, but that's a conversation for another blog.
What we're here to do is give some tips on how college football, which begins its own playoff in 2014, can make its own version of the Final Four just as good as the basketball version. Part of that is making sure it always lands in a destination venue.
ESPN has already reported that Cowboys Stadium is the prohibitive favorite to host the first championship game, and that makes sense. Dallas has handled huge events before, the stadium is itself is a marvel, and it will do fine to host the game. Anyone who hasn't been to the stadium, which seats an enormous crowd, will enjoy that experience.
Is it better for the sport to keep it in the Dallas area long term, or spread the wealth? (Alabama fans might not want to go to the same title game location every year, after all.)
ESPN said bids for the games at the end of the 2015 and 2016 seasons should come in this summer. This is one time college football should think about more than just making the most money possible, however.
The sport needs to make sure it has good destinations for fans to keep interest high. The basketball Final Four always seems to be better when it is in New Orleans rather than a St. Louis or Detroit, for example. Same for the Super Bowl, which rewards cities that trick taxpayers into giving public funds to build new stadiums, but nobody wants to go to Jacksonville again for the big game.
So New Orleans seems like a natural choice, and it will be a semifinal venue for the first playoff. The Rose Bowl will be a first semifinal venue too, and that is a good pick to be a regular part of the playoff. If Las Vegas builds its new stadium for UNLV and it meets the 65,000-seat minimum required by the playoff committee, doesn't that seem like a place you'd travel to see a big college football game? Feel free to comment below on which cities would be the most enticing for fans wanting to travel to a college football playoff game.
The venue for the playoff games has to be more than just about the highest bid from a city that can handle a big crowd. To grow the football final four, it has to be an enticing part of the entire experience. College football needs to be careful and smart about the way it hands out those honors.