One of the benefits of the outgoing Bowl Championship Series system for the Orange Bowl was that regardless of what happened on the field each season, college football’s national championship game was guaranteed to be played in South Florida once every four years.
With the new four-team playoff system going into effect after the 2013 season, there are no championship game guarantees for Sun Life Stadium anymore — just the promise a semifinal will be played here once every three years (the first in 2016).
But Orange Bowl CEO Eric Poms, in Pasadena, Calif., for the meetings between conference commissioners and bowl representatives this week, said Wednesday that doesn’t mean January’s game between Alabama and Notre Dame will be the last time a national champion is crowned in South Florida.
Poms said when College Football Playoff organizers begin accepting bids to host the championship games beyond 2015, the focus for South Florida will be on hosting the Jan. 9, 2017, title game first, and potentially any other seasons in which Sun Life Stadium isn’t serving as one of the six rotating semifinal hosts.
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The NCAA hopes to have the championship sites for 2016 and 2017 set by September.
“Obviously, we’re big supporters of the effort [to renovate Sun Life Stadium],” Poms said. “Facilities are a big part of the bids and it’s important to have a venue at the highest levels.
“There are a lot of new facilities that have come on board over the last couple of years. Look at the BCS, the Rose Bowl is going through renovations. The Superdome was renovated in the aftermath of Katrina. Where the Fiesta Bowl plays, it’s a new stadium. San Francisco has a new stadium. We understand that for us to be in the best position, we need to continue to be in a top-notch facility.”
Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, will be awarded College Football Playoff’s first national title game, to be held Jan. 12, 2015. Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium also put in a bid for the 2015 game.
The Fiesta, Cotton and Chick-fil-A bowls are joining the Rose, Sugar and Orange bowls in the six-bowl semifinal rotation for the new playoff. The Rose (Pasadena) and Sugar (New Orleans) bowls will host the semifinals in 2015, the Orange and Cotton (Arlington) bowls will host in 2016, and the Fiesta (Glendale, Ariz.) and Chick-fil-A (Atlanta) bowls will host in 2017. They will keep that rotation through January 2026.
Could Miami be exempt from hosting college football’s national championship if it is hosting the Super Bowl the same year?
“I haven’t heard that, but I could see it being a consideration,” Poms said. “Of course, there’s a lot of other major decisions that need to be made first — the selection process. Questions like that will evolve once a system is in place.”
One notable change Poms said the Orange Bowl is excited about is that in the eight years the Rose, Sugar and Orange bowls do not host the national semifinals, they will get the highest-ranked team from their respective conference tie-ins. Rose (Pac-12 Conference vs. Big Ten), Sugar (Southeastern vs. Big 12) and Orange (Atlantoc Coast Conference vs. highest-ranked from SEC/Big Ten/Notre Dame).
Another big change, Poms said, is that it is no longer guaranteed the Orange Bowl will be played at night — a staple since the 1960s.
“Some of them could be at 1 o’clock, five or prime time, depending on the network,” he said. “That’s part of the change, but we feel good about going back to having the game on either Dec. 31 or Jan. 1 because it puts the game back where it belongs during the holiday season. That’s great for the community.”