Wanted to make a quick observation before the College Football Playoff bowl games begin later this afternoon –
Yesterday, I read a USA Today article that said that the Rose Bowl is actually drawing a higher ticket cost than either of the two CFP playoff games, commanding an over 30% premium on the secondary market. It got me thinking about why this would be? The Rose Bowl brand has built up this game as one, if not the most popular bowl game every year. But with the creation of the Playoff and the Rose Bowl not a semifinal game this season, the average fan would assume that it would not be as popular on the market as it is.
So, I wondered if the participating programs and their brands themselves are affecting it? A quick personal analysis is below –
This is the Crimson Tide’s third straight appearance in the CFP, including one national championship last season. The university’s fan base expects to be in the national title game every season, so the diehards are not focused on the Peach Bowl semifinal. They are not going spend their money on this game, when they believe they will advance to play for a title the next week. This is allowing the average Alabama fans an opportunity to see their team compete in a significant game, but it does bring the ticket costs down for the semifinal.
The Huskies are in a New Year’s Six/BCS bowl game for the first time since the 2001 Rose Bowl, in addition to having a chance of winning a National Title! So, I am very surprised that many of their fans are “not” driving up the price of this ticket. The Huskies have a chance to not only advance to the Title game, but also beat the top brand within the sport. So, the only thing I could think of would be the cross-country travel that Huskie fans would have to take in order to see this game? Yes, it is a long trip, but having a chance to play for a National Championship seems like an opportunity to make a moment to last a lifetime. I am surprised by the potential “lack of interest” in this game for Washington fans.
While the Tigers have been growing their brand successfully under Dabo Swinney, the problem is that Clemson is still not known as flagship brand in college football. The Tigers have an appearance in the National Championship, a Heisman finalist in QB DeShaun Watson and become one of the top programs in the ACC. However, with the Fiesta Bowl’s ticket prices not being up to par with the Rose Bowl, I wonder if Tigers’ fans are in the same situation as Alabama fans? In that they are expecting to be in the Championship game again this year. Or, it could be that the fan base only cares about beating one team this season (Alabama) and simply views Ohio State as a simple roadblock, even though this maybe the most competitive bowl game of the season.
#3 Ohio State
The Buckeyes are a flagship brand within the sport and are back in the College Football Playoff after a year away? So, why would this year’s Fiesta Bowl have less demand than last year’s meeting versus Notre Dame? I wonder if there is fatigue for Ohio State fans having to go back to Glendale, AZ for the second year in a row. Another reason could be that last year’s game against the Irish featured two of the greatest programs in the sport’s history. Lastly, the Buckeyes have experienced a championship in the CFP Era and probably expect another one this season. Saving money for the title game sounds very familiar when you compare the Columbus fans with Alabama and Clemson this season.
This game consists of two top programs that are looking to make their way back to the top of the sport after a rough couple of years.
#5 Penn State
The Nittany Lions program has had a rough couple of years. A surprise conference championship has lifted the Penn State brand back into the eyes of the average college football fan. A victory in the Rose Bowl can officially announce their national championship aspirations to the rest of the New Year’s Six participants. James Franklin has done a great job of building this program back to success over the past three seasons, with great recruiting classes that paid off this season. A win over another former flagship program in USC will help solidify their Big Ten Championship this season, even without a CFP appearance.
Clay Helton was on the hot seat earlier this very season, after a 1-3 start by the Trojans. They are not coming into Pasadena on a roll, winning eight straight with a freshman QB, as well as an upset of CFP participant Washington. The USC Trojans are a flagship college football brand, but after the struggles it has had under Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian, it needs a marquee victory to cement itself as a championship contender in the eyes of college football fans. A victory like this, could begin their rise back towards a title and becoming the top sports draw in Los Angeles once again.