Fiesta chief expects place in playoff system
JUN 27, 2012 3:17p ET
Fiesta Bowl rexecutive director Dr. Robert Shelton said Wednesday he fully anticipates the Fiesta Bowl will be part of the six-bowl rotation hosting semifinal games under the new system and said the organization will explore hosting national championship games.
"We have every intention of being one of the six bowls," Shelton said. "As a BCS bowl, we have first right to negotiate that, so we're excited about being one of the six.
"I think people are making the foregone conclusion that the four BCS bowls plus two more will constitute the six."
Though many details still must be worked out, the new system set to begin for the 2014 season would feature two of six designated bowls hosting a semifinal game each year, with the national championship game being played on the first Monday in January that is at least six days after the last semifinal.
"That would mean that one year out of three, on average, we would host a semifinal game, which should be a phenomenal game," Shelton said. "I think about the Final Four in the NCAA basketball tournament. The (semifinals) are going to be great."
Shelton believes the semifinal matchups that could be produced under the new system could be even better than what has been the norm for the Fiesta Bowl in past seasons. Last season's game between No. 3 Oklahoma State and No. 4 Stanford, Shelton said, offered a preview of what kind of matchups could be expected for the semifinals.
The expectation under the new system is that the national championship game will rotate between sites and be determined by a bidding process similar to that of the Super Bowl. Shelton said the Fiesta Bowl, which has hosted two of the last six BCS championship games, would certainly be interested in bidding for the game, pending the right support locally.
"We definitely want to explore that," Shelton said. "But I want to emphasize it's not something we can do on our own, just like we couldn't manage a successful Super Bowl bid or a Final Four bid on our own. That's going to take a lot of cooperation among various entities in the Valley of the Sun."
Shelton said if the right support came together for successful national championship bids, he could foresee the Valley hosting the game in similar frequency to the current once-every-four-years rotation.
While Shelton believes the assumed semifinal status of the Fiesta Bowl will be a particular boon in semifinal years, he is also optimistic the non-semifinal years will produce quality matchups. Though the format for selecting seeded teams is still to be determined, it appears a selection committee will determine the top 12 teams in college football and place them among the six designated bowls.
"In the other two out of three years, I think we would get a terrific game as well," Shelton said. "So I'm looking forward to having a great game every year."
While the semifinal games would be locked in on Dec. 31 or Jan. 1, it's yet to be determined when the Fiesta Bowl would be played the other years. Most likely, the scheduling would be similar to the current arrangement, with the date shifting from year to year to maximize television exposure.
Shelton said in April that even if the postseason format in college football were to change, the Fiesta Bowl would like to maintain its affiliation with the Big 12 Conference, whose champion has played in the game four out of the last six seasons. But in May, the Big 12 and Southeastern Conference announced a new partnership in which their champions would meet to play in a New Year's Day bowl game, pending those teams' status within the new playoff system.
That announcement, it appears, has cut the Big 12's tie-in to the Fiesta Bowl, but Shelton is not concerned with how that could affect matchups for the game.
"We value highly the Big 12 relationship, but it looks like in this new configuration that conference affiliations are going to play a different -- I might even say less important -- role for us," Shelton said. "We want to make sure we can get great teams out of the Big 12 but also the SEC, the Pac-12, the ACC, you name it."
Shelton praised the decision by the conference commissioners and university presidents to limit the new playoff system to four teams as well as the six-bowl rotation. The new system is positive for the Fiesta Bowl, he said, and could lead to greater financial benefits for the organization.
Any increased financial benefits would not likely change the payout for the other game run by the Fiesta Bowl: the former Insight Bowl, which is played at Arizona State's Sun Devil Stadium. That bowl, which is expected to announce a new title sponsor soon, is currently affiliated with the Big Ten and Big 12 conferences.
"I feel very positive about (the new system)," Shelton said. "A lot of details to be worked out, but from what I here with the four teams and the selection committee, I think the people in greater Phoenix and really the whole state that come to (the Fiesta Bowl) are going to see, year in and year out, a tremendous matchup."
Arizona State athletic director Steve Patterson also praised the presidents' approval of the new system in a statement Tuesday:
"We are excited about the new four team playoff for Division I football," Patterson said. "We support Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott and the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee every step of the way. We congratulate them on their cautious deliberations concerning the future of the college football postseason. Today's decision represents an exciting shift in the future of college football. We are looking forward to seeing this future flourish as we maintain our historic relationship with the Rose Bowl."