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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The Pros and Cons of Playing CFP Games on Campus

  • The expanded College Football Playoff will allow first-round playoff games at host sites for the first time.
  • While they may provide an unparalleled atmosphere, there could be logistical difficulties.
Fans cheer on players during match-up between Georgia and Michigan during 2021 Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium
Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

The expanded College Football Playoff will bring a completely new element to modern postseason Football Bowl Subdivision competition: On-campus playoff games. 

In 2024 and 2025, the first round in the 12-team CFP will be hosted by the higher-seeded team on campus or at another location of their choosing. 

There are several pros and cons to the concept that officials will consider when CFP officials begin negotiations for a new media rights deal after the current agreement expires after the 2025 playoffs.

One such consideration would be how many rounds of home games would be utilized in the playoff.

  • The biggest plus is the expectation of an unparalleled atmosphere at a home site. There could also be significant benefits for fans — particularly students who wouldn’t have to travel to see their team play. 
  • And depending on how the revenue is divided up, schools could earn more ticket sales, concessions, and merchandise. 
  • College towns would get an unexpected economic boost with an extra game in town.

Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren appears quite fond of the idea. At a conference on Wednesday, he called the concept of quarterfinals on campus “wonderful” — as opposed to playing at neutral New Year’s Six bowl game sites, which is the current plan.

Georgia receiver Ladd McConkey celebrates in confetti after winning National Championship 

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On Campus Challenges

However, there has been some pushback on the possibility of adding more home sites in later playoff rounds.

During a press conference, Bowl Season executive director Nick Carparelli pointed out that bowl games have built the infrastructure to host all the fanfare that comes with a postseason college football game — from partnerships with local businesses and hotels to an ability to handle in-game logistics smoothly. 

He also added that hosting a playoff game on campus will still require travel for many fans, who, for example, are alums who no longer live near the stadium. 

“College football bowl games, for a long time, have hosted neutral site games at a very, very high level,” he said.

For now, home sites will host the first round, and bowl games will host the next two rounds. But in four years, all bets are off. 

CFP executive director Bill Hancock told reporters last week that every contract will be revisited ahead of 2026 — and no bowl game has a guarantee of keeping its spot as part of the playoff.

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