Are neutral site games good for college football?

It’s almost time for college football! Pull up a chair and let’s talk college football as TSS Associate Editors Bart Doan and Terry Johnson join staff writer Kevin Causey and special rotating guests in our weekly roundtable discussing all things college football.

Yesterday, we discussed the biggest games of week one. Today we talk about neutral site games and their impact on the game. Joining us is TSS writer and the man behind The Next Wave Football, Ryan Palencer….

Question: Is the increasing popularity of neutral site early season games good or bad for the sport?

Ryan Palencer:
On Twitter @RyanPalencer

There are positives and negatives with this, but I will lean to the side that it is a good thing. While you lack the college atmosphere in many of these matchups, choosing instead to play them at larger, professional venues, you get games that you otherwise might not if there was an aspect of going on the road involved. In addition, having these strong games early in the season get people excited for the ensuing campaign right off the bat. Starting with a cupcake does not have the same appeal.

Additionally, the playoff committee put an emphasis on strength of schedule last season. Playing big national games only adds to the exposure of teams playing in such games. The traditionalist in me says no, but the fan in me says yes please.

Bart Doan:
On Twitter @TheCoachBart

When good teams play other good teams, it’s never a bad thing. There’s a dearth of that logic going around college football right now. Too many programs have opted to be the really hot girl with not-so-cute friends because it’s easier to be surrounded by the inferior looking to look extra good to everyone else.

We need more pretty girls hanging out with pretty friends, and if that means it’s on someone’s neutral turf, so be it. Still, it’s a double-edged sword. These games take away from the essence of what makes college football and college sports in general so much more charming than pro sports, and that’s the element of the students hopping a few blocks, sneaking flasks in, and making that decibel level high and mighty.

The majority of the students at each school can’t afford to travel to these games and that soul is lost in neutral site affairs. It’s too bad, because the less college football’s product looks like the NFL, the better in that sense. At any rate, if you’re asking me if I prefer neutral site games or everyone playing the Vermont School of Bible Studies instead, I suppose fire up Jerry World and let’s play.

Kevin Causey:
On Twitter @CFBZ

I’m a fan of neutral site games for many reasons. The biggest reason is that, generally speaking, neutral site games are special. They just feel like they are a bigger deal than a regular game. Whether it’s Georgia vs Florida in Jacksonville or it’s a college football kick-off game like Auburn vs Louisville in Atlanta….having the game at a neutral site just makes the game feel better.

Playing at a neutral site also allows the fanbase to experience something different than they normally would. Instead of playing Eastern William and Mary State of Technology at home, they get to travel and have an “experience” surrounding the game.

Neutral site games also give teams the chance to strut their stuff in front of a different audience. This is a great recruiting tool for the coach and for the University.

Finally, playing a neutral site game gives the teams a chance to see what the College Football Playoff might feel like. No, they aren’t under the microscope, but it gives the players a chance to prepare for a game in an unusual environment. That could come in very handy in December and January.

Is too much of a good thing a bad thing? It could be in the future but for now I like where the neutral site games have brought us.

Terry Johnson:
On Twitter @SectionTPJ 

As all of the responses above point out, neutral site games are great for college football. Everyone – especially the fans – wins with these types of contests.

Regardless of whether these games are good for college football or not, I expect to see the trend continue in the future. After all, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee is supposed to look at strength of schedule when picking the four best teams for the field. Any squad that wants to compete for the national championship will have to beef up the non-conference portion of the schedule or risk being left out of the field.

Neutral site season openers a great way to accomplish this goal. Instead of having to figure out the logistics of a home-and-home series, college football’s heavyweights could simply agree to play one time at a neutral site.

It’s also worth noting that there’s absolutely no downside to playing in these contests. Even if a team were to lose, they’d still have a full slate of games left to make up the difference. As Ohio State proved last season, an early loss is not enough to derail a team’s College Football Playoff aspirations.

That’s why I think you’ll see more neutral site openers in the future. They create a “win-win” situation for everybody.

It’s tough to argue with those results.