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Volume 24 No. 160


As the 16th and final season of the BCS system "kicked off Thursday night, the sound you heard was applause" for the "return of college football, certainly -- but also for the imminent demise of a controversial postseason structure," according to George Schroeder of USA TODAY. Despite the "bland name" of the new College Football Playoff, there is "plenty of anticipation for the long-awaited change." Still, given what "ailed the BCS, it's hard to know if the playoff will in the long run be seen as a cure." BCS Exec Dir Bill Hancock said, "I think history will see that it contributed to the regular season in a way that nobody ever imagined, and it brought order to the postseason." Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said, "I thought the BCS added more than people could ever put a value on because of this: It turned the entire season into a playoff. It created that much energy that people were glued to those TVs from Week 1 to Week 13, and everywhere in between." Schroeder notes despite "assurances from conference commissioners that the playoff will not expand for at least the life of the TV contract, the financial potential is one reason calls to expand the bracket to eight teams, which are already being made, shouldn't be dismissed." Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops: "It won't be enough. That's the nature of it" (USA TODAY, 8/30).

NOT BAD AFTER ALL? The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Rachel Bachman writes in order to "understand what the BCS represents, it helps to imagine that the comparatively well-oiled machine of the NFL playoffs never existed." For all the "heartache it has caused the fans of various unlucky teams, the BCS has accompanied, if not helped to create, some broad and likely permanent changes in the sport." College football fans, who "were once regional tribes, became national consumers under this system." Former SEC Commissioner and BCS Coordinator Roy Kramer said, "It's bigger than we ever dreamed of at the time. It created a name brand and almost a structure of membership: BCS schools and non-BCS schools." For all the "controversy and complexity of the BCS, it doesn't seem to have hurt the sport," as a Harris Poll from last year showed that college football "has become the nation's third-most popular sport behind the NFL and baseball, and is closing the gap." The new CFP "may not be quite as populist" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/30).

FOR ALL THE TOSTITOS: Fiesta Bowl Exec Dir Robert Shelton on Thursday said that the game is "spearheading an effort to secure" the '16 CFP championship game for Univ. of Phoenix Stadium. Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby: “The competition is going to be robust. I think Phoenix has as good a chance of landing it as anyone.” In Phoenix, Paola Boivin notes if accepted, the game "sets up a potentially busy two-and-half-year run on the Valley’s sports scene." The Fiesta Bowl will "host a game between ranked at-large teams -- selected by a committee as part of the new college playoff format -- on Dec. 31, 2014." Super Bowl XLVIIII will be played there Feb. 1, 2015. On Jan. 1, 2016, the Fiesta Bowl "would host another meeting between at-large teams and then the national title game 10 days later if the bid is awarded." Additionally, the Arizona Sports & Tourism Authority is "working on a bid to host a men’s Final Four" for April '17 (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 8/30).

Cal AD Sandy Barbour on Thursday announced the '14 matchup against Stanford "will remain at Memorial Stadium and not be moved to Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara," according to Jeff Faraudo of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. A proposal to have the '14 game moved on a one-year basis to Santa Clara "surfaced publicly late last week, and was met with angry response from fans from both schools." Barbour announced the decision "in a letter to fans and supporters." She said that "all aspects of the proposal were considered, but that the athletic department reached out to alumni, students, donors and ticket holders to solicit feedback." The 49ers and the Santa Clara Stadium Authority "initiated the proposal." The move was "expected to earn both schools additional revenue beyond what the Big Game normally generates." For many fans, "selling cherished traditions to help pay down athletic department debts was not a satisfactory trade-off." Still, Barbour said that the athletic department "will continue to try to find creative ways to help pay down" the $474M debt incurred by the renovation of Memorial Stadium and construction of a student-athlete high-performance training center (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 8/30).

STAYING OR LEAVING? In Denver, Christopher Dempsey writes the groundswell from those who want the Rocky Mountain Showdown between Colorado and Colorado State to "return to the campus sites simply needs to be patient." The contract for the game in Denver "runs through 2019, but there's not much of a decision there." It is "going back to campus -- at latest -- when Colorado State's new football stadium opens for business." Even if the school would "decline restructuring the deal to move back to campus in the short term," the CSU will "most certainly want their home game there in the new digs." CU has "pretty much always wanted its home games at Folsom Field" (DENVER POST, 8/30).

Auburn Univ. on Thursday said that season-ticket sales for the upcoming football season are down 4.7% "when compared to sales at this time last year," according to Brandon Marcello of the BIRMINGHAM NEWS. AD Jay Jacobs said AU has lost "about $600,000" of potential sales as a result, but scholarship seating levels are at an "all-time high" for the season. Slow sales with "lower-end tickets and a wait-and-see approach for some fans after a 3-9 season (the school's worst in 60 years) are to blame." Jacobs: "Why would you want to pay a (Tigers Unlimited Fund donation) and the price of the ticket if you know you can walk out on the street and get them? ... We certainly expect, if we're successful on the field Saturday, we'll probably end up selling out." Marcello notes the last sellout at Jordan-Hare Stadium was the '11 Iron Bowl against Alabama, and AU is looking to "draw more fans by improving the game-day experience, including improved WiFi access, earlier access to stadium gates and more food options at concession stands inside the stadium." AU has "not increased ticket prices" in the last two years and has "added 2,000 additional tailgating parking spots" (BIRMINGHAM NEWS, 8/30).

Hundreds of UNC-Charlotte students "who are paying increased student fees to help pay" for the new on-campus Richardson Stadium, and hoped to attend the school's inaugural football game on Saturday, "won’t be there," according to a front-page piece by David Scott of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. The game is sold out, and has "turned into one of the hottest tickets around." Of the 15,314 seats, 7,500 tickets "are allotted to students, but 8,300 had requested them." The rest of the stadium's seating is "divided among season-ticket and permanent-seat license holders (6,800) and about 1,000 for players’ families, the opposing team’s fans, recruits, sponsors and high school coaches." Charlotte Associate AD/Media Relations Tom Whitestone said those seats also are "expected to be filled Saturday." Whitestone: “We are at our breaking point." He added that the school "will not distribute standing-room-only tickets to students who didn’t have their names drawn in the lottery." Temporary stands also are "not planned for this season in Richardson Stadium, which will likely be expanded to 40,000 seats by 2015, when the 49ers move to Conference USA" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/28).