Bowls send letter to schools arguing against on-campus games in expanded College Football Playoff

·3 min read

The college football bowl system does not want an expanded College Football Playoff to include any games at teams' home stadiums.

Bowl Season, a coalition of the college football postseason games, has sent a letter to university presidents and college commissioners advocating for a larger playoff to continue to encompass bowl games. The letter, obtained by Yahoo Sports, argues that the bowls would provide a "neutral, competitively fair setting" for playoff games and that college football wouldn't be viewed the way it is by fans if it wasn't for the bowl system.

"We believe any plan for an expanded playoff should include all playoff games being played within the traditional Bowl structure, not the home site of one of the participating teams," the letter states. "The Bowls would provide a neutral, competitively fair setting for these games as they have throughout their history. To exclude Bowl games from any round of an expanded playoff would be harmful to Bowl Season, individual Bowls and their host communities, and post-season college football in general."

That bowl system has long stood in the way of postseason change at the top of college football. While the lower levels of college football have a fantastic playoff system, the entrenched bowl hierarchy prevented even a four-team playoff from happening until the 2014 season. 

In the letter, Bowl season argues for the bowls to have a representative voice in playoff expansion discussions and that the first two rounds of an expanded 12-team playoff should be comprised of bowl games like the current semifinal round of the College Football Playoff. 

Playoff expansion looming

The current four-team playoff could expand to 12 teams in the coming years, though there are still some things to work out before figuring out where the games will be played. A 12-team playoff would add eight games to the current playoff system and, potentially, include eight more bowl games within the structure.

Adding more bowl games to the playoff would boost the status and finances of the games that are added. It's obvious why the bowl coalition wants to be included in a bigger playoff.

But it's also hard to see how adding more bowl games to the playoff would benefit fans. If every game in a 12-team playoff was at a neutral site, a fan of a team seeded No. 5 that made it to the title game would be facing the prospect of traveling to four games in four weeks. Early-round bowls could have a hard time filling their grandstands as fans waited to see if their teams advanced.

Putting the first two rounds of a 12-team playoff at the home stadiums of higher-seeded teams would potentially create raucous atmospheres at those stadiums. And it would provide those teams a deserved home-field advantage for finishing in the top eight of the CFP rankings. 

Home games would also likely contract the bowl landscape. There are currently 43 bowl games and 5-7 teams are already making bowl games. Adding more teams to the playoff without adding more bowl games will decrease the number of bowl-available teams and could lead to fewer bowl games overall.

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