Talked about and hoped for for decades, a playoff to determine the champion of Division I football bowl subdivision college football became a reality last week.
Now, it’s time to put things in perspective for the UCF and Orlando communities. What does this mean for the Knights?
How a playoff affects the Knights
The college football world has finally got what it asked for: a playoff postseason format. Four teams selected by a committee will square off in semifinal games held at current bowl sites, and the National Championship game will be held in the city with the highest bid.
Along with UCF’s move to the Big East comes a tougher schedule and increased visibility that will lead to better recruiting. For UCF to be able to find its way into this playoff (which has yet to be named), it would have to not only finish with a strong record but impress the selection committee by playing a challenging schedule and winning the Big East. While being a conference champion isn’t required for postseason eligibility, the Knights have no chance of ever making the playoffs if they don’t win the Big East.
The Big East is a step up in competition from Conference USA, but it is still a ways from being on par with the Southeastern Conference, Pac 12, Big 12, Big 10 and even the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Knights have regularly scheduled tough out-of-conference opponents, as evidenced this year with scheduling Missouri of the SEC and Ohio State of the Big 10. This is a tradition that must continue in Orlando. Playing top-notch competition will also allow for a more seamless transition to the Big East.
Playoff potentially a huge boost for Orlando
Various news outlets have reported and confirmed that Florida Citrus Sports, Orange County and the City of Orlando have agreed to a $175 million renovation package for the Citrus Bowl. With open bidding to host playoff games, Orlando may find itself in a position to host one of the nation’s most anticipated games of the season.
Why does Orlando make sense to host? For one, Orlando is no stranger to tourism and tourist traffic: Forbes.com lists Orlando as America’s most visited city, with 48 million visitors in 2011. The Citrus Bowl already plays host to the Capital One Bowl and the Russell Athletic Bowl (formerly the Champs Sports Bowl) and other big events. Orlando hosted the 2012 NBA All-Star game and drew rave reviews from league officials and visitors.
People want to come to Orlando. I have no doubt that if Orlando makes an appealing bid that the city would more than likely host a game in one of the first two years.
The renovations to the Citrus Bowl will reportedly add an entirely new lower bowl, 8,000 club level seats, new suites, and additional restroom and concession accommodations, as well as a new main concourse. Together, all of these things should close the gap, helping the venue compete for these coveted gains, which could have a financial impact on the city worth millions.
Big East losing steam?
Saturday in the late afternoon, Las Vegas CBS affiliate KLAS Channel 8 reported that Boise State was staying in the Mountain West Conference, rather than to leave to enter the Big East as a football-only member. That report was found to be false, and later in the day, the Idaho Statesman reported that Boise State had not told MWC that they would be remaining in the conference.
Boise, which had until midnight Saturday to make its decision, ultimately informed its former conference that it would depart for the Big East. Still, the Big East does not scream credibility with regards to its football members, and the circumstances surrounding the arrival of the Broncos, its most important piece in the most important sport, is cause for a raised eyebrow at the least.
The conference could really use one of the members who will be present in 2013, when most of the realignment moves go into effect, to have a good season in 2012. The league needs credibility where a playoff is concerned for its members.