College Football Playoff semifinal at Rose Bowl to move to Texas

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra
On Saturday, AT&T Stadium in suburban Dallas hosted the Big 12 championship game between Oklahoma and Iowa State.

The College Football Playoff semifinal game scheduled for New Year's Day at the Rose Bowl will move to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, executive director Bill Hancock said late Saturday.

As it turned out, the relocation did not directly impact Ohio State, which was picked for the playoff as the No. 3 seed and will face second-seeded Clemson in a Sugar Bowl semifinal at 8 p.m. Jan. 1 in New Orleans.

However, had the committee not moved the first semifinal from Pasadena, California, to suburban Dallas, OSU and Clemson almost surely would have played in the Rose Bowl so that top seed Alabama could play closer to home, in New Orleans.

Pandemic limitations on fan attendance at the Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena, California, affecting the families and friends of players, prompted officials to look at alternative hosts for the semifinal.

“We are pleased that parents and loved ones will now be able to see their students play in the game,” Hancock said in a statement.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the Rose Bowl had twice appealed to state health officials to permit between 400-500 spectators at the semifinals, a capacity that would allow the teams’ families to be present. But their latest waiver request was denied Thursday night.

UCLA, which played at the stadium during the regular season, was similarly unable to have families of players and coaches in attendance.

The playoff announcement also cited the “growing number of COVID-19 cases in Southern California.”

But family attendance was a sticking point among teams in the past week and the possibility that they might not be allowed to be at the game had drawn criticism from the coaches of playoff contenders. Most notably, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly threatened a boycott of the Rose Bowl semifinal if families weren’t able to attend.

Following a win over Northwestern in the Big Ten championship game on Saturday, Ohio State coach Ryan Day expressed a similar sentiment about families at the playoff games, though was more diplomatic.

“I agree that families need to be there,” Day said. “These guys have been away from their families for a long time.”

Players’ families have been given special consideration in the playoff era and have received travel stipends for the games since then-Ohio State coach Urban Meyer pushed for aid during the first season of the postseason format, when the Buckeyes played and won the national championship game.

The semifinal game at AT&T Stadium will take place two days after the Cotton Bowl is also held at the venue. Health officials in Texas have allowed the Dallas Cowboys to hold as many as 30,000 fans at the stadium this fall.

The Buckeyes previously played at AT&T Stadium when it captured the first College Football Playoff national championship in 2015, as well as the Cotton Bowl in 2017.

It’s unclear if the semifinal game will still be referred to as the Rose Bowl or if it will lack the traditional branding.

The Rose Bowl once moved to Durham, North Carolina, in 1942 following the onset of World War II and limitations on large public gatherings in the West.

jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman