Interest exists for college football title game, not Champions Bowl

Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 2:14pm

For a bowl president, staying relevant in the evolving college football landscape is a lofty challenge.

That’s why Music City Bowl's Scott Ramsey wants to focus on building upon one bowl and not managing two — at least for now.

Wednesday is the deadline to submit bids for the newly created Champions Bowl, which will pit the conference winners from the Big 12 and Southeastern Conference. Despite being one of 10 cities asked to bid, Nashville won’t.

The highest bidder will agree to a 12-year contract with the bowl, which won’t debut until after the 2014 season. Ramsey said the “very large financial commitment” to place a bid was the biggest factor. But he also listed unknown variables, such as the chosen schools’ proximity to Nashville and the size of the alumni bases.

“We just didn’t feel like, after consultation with city officials and everybody, that this was the right opportunity for us to pursue,” Ramsey said. “We know we are going to have some more opportunities come down the road here in the next few months. We feel like those might be more strategically aligned where we feel like we can go as Nashville.”

Those opportunities include possibly hosting a national semifinal or the national championship game in the newly adopted playoff system, which also will start after the 2014 regular season.

The two national semifinal games will rotate among six bowl sites and the title game will rotate to a neutral site, which will be determined through a bid process. The four BCS bowls — the Fiesta, Orange, Rose and Sugar — along with the Champions Bowl are expected to be announced as semifinal locations.

Whether Nashville is a legitimate contender to be included in the national championship game mix remains to be seen. It depends on the bid requirements, which are expected to be released in the next six months.

Ramsey said the Nashville Sports Council will do its due diligence to decide if making a bid is appropriate. Nashville could be hindered by the fact that LP Field is both an outdoor stadium and one of the smaller venues with a capacity of 68,978.

“There are a lot of those things I think we can do very well — as well as any city, including staging the game, especially with our downtown campus,” Ramsey said. “There are a lot of moving parts out there right now. We are going to be very prudent but, yet, very aggressive on trying to make sure we can maximize what the bowl means to the city.”

Once the bidding process is determined for the semifinals and title game, the bidding lineup for the SEC bowls might change.

Currently, after the BCS selection, the Music City Bowl receives the sixth SEC choice and fifth ACC pick. If one of those bowls higher up on the pecking order is tabbed as one of the top six bowl sites, the Music City Bowl might climb the ladder.

Thus, moving up the food chain could mean more prominent and anticipated matchups for the Music City Bowl. And maybe that will be enough to keep the 15-year-old bowl relevant. Only time will tell.

“For a 12-year run [the length of the upcoming contract, starting in 2014, for all bowls], I really don’t think there is anybody other than just speculation that really knows how the public’s interest is going to either divide the bowls and the BCS or it is going to be fairly seamless,” Ramsey said. “I think the BCS has certainly gotten its lion share of interest at the championship game level but I’m not sure that the other BCS games … have separated that much.

“From Nashville’s perspective, what we’re going to try to do is create an event — it’s just not a football game — for three or four days, which we’ve continued to build over the years, and utilize all the great assets we have in the city to create an event that fans want to come to.”