Sugar Bowl CEO ‘pleased’ with new College Football Playoff expansion plan

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The most attentive eyes in New Orleans to Thursday’s news that a subcommittee of the College Football Playoff recommended expansion from four teams to 12 beginning as soon as the 2023 season were inside the offices of the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

Sugar Bowl CEO Jeff Hundley said Friday the news did not come as a surprise, as he and his staff are in regular communication with the CFP and the bowl’s conference partners, the Southeastern Conference and Big 12 Conference.

“We’re pleased with the plan that’s been put in place,” Hundley said Friday. “We’re supportive of anything that benefits college football in general and certainly postseason college football.

“Twelve teams answers a lot of questions. It puts to rest the notion of expansion for a number of years. We think they’ve landed at a good point.”

The subcommittee’s recommendation still has some hurdles to clear.

“Certainly, nothing’s done,” he said. “The commissioners still have to sign off as a group on the proposal, but we think it’s a good start.”

From the Sugar Bowl’s perspective, perhaps the biggest news within the announcement wasn’t the expansion to 12 teams, but that quarterfinal and semifinal games are being recommended to be played within the existing bowl structure.

Right now, six bowls, including the Sugar Bowl, rotate through as semifinal hosts every third year. It seems logical, then, that the six bowls could maintain their semifinal hosting rotation and then host quarterfinals in the other years.

If that’s the case, Hundley said, “Our game would matter every year. We’d have teams playing for high stakes and motivated fan bases. It will be a lot more attractive to the local community as well.”

A new structure would likely mean a new process to secure one of those coveted spots.

“We don’t want to be presumptuous,” Hundley said, “but we think we’re going to be in the conversation when it comes to who the six games are that are going to be selected. You would think the incumbents would have first crack at that, and certainly we’re expecting as much.”

In the recommendation, the first-round games would be played at campus sites, with the quarterfinals on Jan. 1 and/or an adjacent date and the semis and championship later in January.

The New Year’s Day position has “kind of taken back ownership of a time slot that belongs to college football,” Hundley said.

Hundley looks forward to the 2022 Sugar Bowl being played in front of its usual large crowd after attendance for last year’s CFP semifinal between Clemson and Ohio State was limited to 3,000 because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“We’re on a good track forward,” “That’ll be another big step. It will be helpful for the community.

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Lenny Vangilder

Sales/Content/Production

Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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