College Football Playoff: Atlanta Needs Prayer to Land a Semifinal Hosting Spot
The push is out now, bowl games are all battling to become the "other" spot when it comes to hosting the semifinals. We know the Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl are going to get the nod, but who else?
The Cotton Bowl, backed by Jerry Jones, is going to make their play and it will be solid. The Capital One Bowl in Orlando and the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville have been speculated about as the last two spots in the six-site rotation are being battled over.
It seems Atlanta has legitimate interest in throwing their name into that ring as well. Sports Illustrated reports that the Chick-fil-A Bowl is absolutely interested in elevating their status to become one of the "Big Six" Bowl games. The Atlanta-based bowl game—in the thick of SEC country, home to the SEC Championship and the SEC friendly Chick-fil-A Kickoff—is going to have their work cut out for them.
One of our favorite daily reads, Eleven Warriors, spells out the concern quite well:
Unfortunately, Hot-Lanta has a proven track record for hosting big events and the conglomerate would likely have a fat enough checkbook to land a title game. I assume most in B1G country would just as soon stay away from traveling to that SEC hotbed so hopefully Emperor Delaney has enough pull to keep this from becoming reality.
The SEC already has the Sugar Bowl as a site for the semifinal that they essentially own outright. Adding in Atlanta would be like giving them another site that their fans are truly comfortable with traveling to in droves. In short, folks in Atlanta fighting for this game better expect a big fight, because the Big Ten will most assuredly align against this idea.
Should Atlanta get the nod to host a semifinal?
While part of the Big Ten's original push for home semifinal sites was to get southern teams up into the cold, the underlying reasoning extends beyond just the semifinal and through the history of bowl games. There exist an inherent dislike of traveling to the south to veritable home sites for teams in a bowl game. Making a semifinal game in Atlanta would only serve to further this issue, and that is something that will be a tough hurdle (set up by the Big Ten) to leap.
Truth be told Atlanta likely has an easier run at hosting a national championship game than in getting the clearance to be one of the rotating semifinal sites. They have the infrastructure to host a big event, semifinal or a title, but the one-off title would be less of a sticking point than a spot as a rotational site for the SEC to use at their disposal.
Personally, I'd love to see the ATL get the gig as a semifinal. The Chick-fil-A Bowl was one of the most successful non-BCS Bowls in recent history. The city truly embraces college football like very few major markets in the country, and no doubt Atlanta would do a tremendous job if given the chance.
However, with the SEC already sitting on New Orleans as a primary site, it will be tough to push another big time SEC city through the pipes as a rotational host.
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