If someone wearing an Alabama or Notre Dame T-shirt approaches you for directions in the next two weeks, please be kind.
Repress any ill feelings about Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban, temporarily forget that the Irish pounded the Hurricanes in October, and wear your best South Florida face.
Think of it as an investment in your community’s future.
The Orange Bowl Committee will produce two major postseason football games at Sun Life Stadium over the next couple of weeks — the Discover Orange Bowl featuring Florida State and Northern Illinois at 8 p.m. New Year’s Day and the BCS National Championship Game with top-ranked Notre Dame facing second-ranked Alabama on Jan. 7.
“This is spring break without the spring break,” said Nicki Grossman, who heads the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. “If you see someone wearing college colors, be nice and wave with all five fingers.”
Over the past 79 years, the Orange Bowl Committee has turned a football game into a full-blown, nationally-heralded festival that has not only reaped financial benefits for the community, but has been a source of great pride.
South Florida recently pulled off a major coup as one of six geographic areas chosen to be part of the new college football playoff system that will replace the current Bowl Championship Series format beginning with the 2014 regular season/2015 postseason. But there’s no guarantee that a two-game extravaganza, like the one this area is about to experience, will happen here again.
Instead, the Orange Bowl Committee will have to bid for the national championship game, just as organizing committees around the country bid for Super Bowls or Final Fours in basketball.
“It’s going to be an extremely competitive landscape and we know a lot of communities will vie for this,” said Orange Bowl Committee CEO Eric Poms. “We’ve had 20 games in our 79 years in which national champions have been determined. The benefits to the community will be very tangible when so many people come to town to culminate a great college football season.
“We don’t take anything for granted. We have an opportunity over the next few weeks to put our best foot forward and showcase everything that South Florida has to offer.”
The new, four-team playoff system has several benefits for South Florida, including a longer 12-year cycle that ensures Sun Life Stadium will be the site of a national semifinal every three years. That’s four total.
The two semifinals (No. 1 vs. No. 4 and No. 2 vs. No. 3) will rotate among six sites and be played on Dec. 31 and/or Jan. 1. The national championship game will always be played on the first Monday that is at least six days after the semifinals. The first championship Monday — names for the new system and corresponding title game have yet to be decided — is set for Jan. 12, 2015.
The three sites that have already been announced are Miami (Orange Bowl), New Orleans (Sugar Bowl) and Pasadena (Rose Bowl), with Glendale, Ariz. (Fiesta Bowl), Arlington, Texas (Cotton), and Atlanta (Chick-fil-A) considered the frontrunners to get the official nod as the remaining three sites.
When the OBC isn’t producing a national semifinal, it will put on its usual Orange Bowl game featuring the Atlantic Coast Conference champion. But after next season, the OB will promise an even sexier matchup, as it will have as the ACC champ’s opponent a highly ranked team from either the Southeastern Conference, Big Ten — or Notre Dame.