The first college football national championship game, to be held after the new four-game playoffs in 2014, is a "virtual lock" to be held at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, according to multiple news outlets. ESPN's Brett McMurphy was the first to break the story.
It's a beautiful stadium, Jerry's Palace is, but is it the right choice?
Traditionalists are probably screaming about the venue, while the media is probably celebrating over the modern technology at its disposal. And yes, football fans—I'm looking at you, female fans—are probably giddy over the prospect of not facing long bathroom lines during halftime.
Cowboys Stadium is big and it's beautiful and it's spectacular. And somewhere down the line, it should hold a college football national championship. Just not the first "real" college football national championship game.
Dallas—okay, technically it's Arlington, but Arlington's located in the major metropolitan area of Dallas-Fort Worth—is not a college football city. It's linked to professional sports. True, there are plenty of big college campuses in its surrounding areas, but that doesn't make it a college football mecca. There just isn't that sense and smell of college football history surrounding the stadium.
But the Rose Bowl...now we're talking.
A walk through the stadium's field tunnel is a walk through history. This stadium means something in college football. Some of the sport's greatest players have touched those walls. There's some serious DNA inside that tunnel—the kind of stuff that still gives freshmen goosebumps the first time they run out onto the field.
The stories of great games played in that stadium are told through generations of football fans. Traditional venues are like family members to football fans. They're comfort food for the souls.
Even if you're not a fan of a Pac-12 or Big Ten team, you can't help but feel the history at the Rose Bowl. It's like going to Notre Dame stadium for the first time—the tradition and history of that stadium is overwhelming. Sometimes, new and fancy isn't always preferable to old school.
Lamborghinis are sexy as hell, but that '67 Corvette? Hubba hubba.
Yeah, you probably think I'm an old fuddy duddy who can't move forward with progress, but you're wrong. I have everything from Macklemore's "Thrift Shop" to Antonio Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" on my iPod. From Kanye's "Gold Digger" to Orff's "O Fortuna."
I like new stuff. I respect the old stuff. But NFL stadiums usually become outdated after 20 years. The Rose Bowl? She's still standing after 90 years, albeit she just had a face lift. A National Historic Landmark, she is.
The Rose Bowl is significant to college football. And she's still beautiful. Wrinkles and all.
Cowboys Stadium is ultra modern and a spectacular place to watch a sporting event, but it lacks that one thing that all football fans love—history. When you walk into the stadium your mouth drops in awe over the huge high-definition screen hanging down from the ceiling. It's perfect, isn't it? Everything is perfect, everything is sleek, shiny, new metal.
It's devoid of cracks in cement stairs. And in a way, that's a shame.
Those cracks at the Rose Bowl? Heaven.
They represent the millions of people who have sat in the stadium for almost a century—jumping up and down in victory or trudging out in defeat.
But there's more.
Tailgating is one of the biggest attractions for college football fans. The map of tailgating options at Cowboys Stadium doesn't look very spacious—and if you don't get there super early, you may not be able to tailgate. The stadium has designated areas for tailgating but compared to the Rose Bowl, it's not even close. The Rose Bowl is surrounded by soft hills, trees and yes, even some sand traps—Brookside Golf Club hugs the stadium.
With the San Gabriel Mountains looking down at the stadium and gorgeous, stately homes lining the streets of the Arroyo Seco, the Rose Bowl is easily a Top 10 spot for tailgating. Cowboys Stadium is not.
And that's important to football fans. So is having that college vibe.
Cowboys Stadium looks professional because of all the money (1.3 billion) poured into it and the team it hosts—the Dallas Cowboys. The NCAA's staunch stance of keeping amateurism in its sports is in direct conflict with this reported choice of venue—a stadium that is associated with BIG money and a professional team.
Maybe it would be better to start out out with the '67 Vette and work up to the Lamborghini.
Why not hold this inaugural championship game in the sport's oldest bowl as a tribute to college football's past? And then hold the ensuing championship game at Cowboys Stadium, as a nod to its future?
Our first real national championship game will probably be a spectacular success, but for some traditionalists, hosting that first real national championship should be in a stadium that signifies amateur athletics. That signifies college football history. That of which, when you close your eyes, you can hear the ghosts of teams who have won. And those who have lost.
That embraces tailgating with a homey feel—not dwarfed in the shadow of a modern marvel. That is played in the oldest of all college football bowls.
That embraces the student-athletes with open arms while reminding them of its glorious past. That reminds you to respect our elders.
In the stadium that hosts "The Granddaddy of Them All."
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