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NCAA Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

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ID:	63The big news this week, amongst all the other news, was the decision by the NCAA to move the Division I Football Championship game to a new locale after 13 years in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Frisco, Texas won the bid which boiled down to a choice after presentations were given to the NCAA Division I Football Championship Committee last Thursday.

Taken together with the expansion of the playoff bracket and the title date being pushed three weeks later, a triple-header of change is on the plate of the Football Championship Subdivision this coming year.

The Decision

"The choice was made in a very similar way that we do it for the football championship tournament," said Damani Leech, the NCAA Director of Football. "We met after the presentations for a few hours and went over the bids."

Leech said that they had been working on this for nearly a year with site visits, many meetings with bidders, applications filed and due diligence given to the process. He felt the NCAA had fully explored the options before their report was given to the Administrative Committee of the Division I Championships/Sports Management Cabinet.

The Cabinet approved it in a phone conference on Friday and the announcement came on Friday afternoon.

Frisco, a far north suburb of Dallas had supplanted Chattanooga as the host of the championship game.

The Bid

So what exactly influenced the committee to change the game's location? Did they consider the hot topics of all the changes for the next playoff tournament? Namely, the expansion to 20 teams and the date of the game being moved from December to January.

And what about the issues like most FCS teams are in the East and their fans would be forced to fly instead of driving; Chattanooga was an FCS city and Frisco had never even hosted a single college football game; and Chattanooga had been running the event for 13 years and had the edge in experience?

"We had been discussing those since the very beginning," Leech said. "We knew it was a lot of changes to be happening all in one cycle."

He didn't feel those were the major factors in moving the location.

After the field of bidders including Missoula, Mont., Spokane, Wash., and Little Rock, Ark. was reduced to Chattanooga and Frisco, it was time to look at the final bids.

"Both finalist bids were very high in quality," he noted. "Chattanooga had a strong track record in providing an excellent experience for the student-athletes, coaches, institutions, and fans. It was all good."

"The Frisco bid was very good too," he continued. "They made a strong case to be chosen and in the end it was a tough decision."

Many onlookers wondered if the corporate sponsors of the stadium in Frisco, Pizza Hut Park, and the Dr. Pepper Arena also in Frisco had any part in the bid. Dallas-based Southwest Airlines was also mentioned frequently.

Would we all get free pizza and soda at the game? Would Southwest Airlines be providing transport for the teams?

"No, no, no," chuckled Leech. "None of those corporations were part of the Frisco bid. The NCAA has official corporate sponsors already. Of course they are free to do what they want outside of the NCAA properties but they weren't in the bids."

Was it a money issue? Did one bid dwarf the other?

"That will not be disclosed but the bids were very similar in that regard," Leech replied.

The Reason

"What it really came down to was," he confided, "we all felt it was time to make a change. In a sense the game in Chattanooga had leveled out. We felt that a change might bring the game to a new level."

"It was still top-notch but staying with the safe and known is not always the direction to take for growth," he said.

The bids were different in their approach to the presentation of the game in ways we will discover as they are announced he intimated. But he is confident that a new era in the championship experience has a good chance of materializing.

We'll be following the developments in our coverage of this event in subsequent articles and at this point we feel that if the powers that be are comfortable enough to make this many changes at once, there must be a very strong feeling that they will succeed. That is what we want too, the best for the FCS.

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