How College Football Playoff Selection Criteria Could Affect Penn State Hosting a Home Game

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How College Football Playoff Selection Criteria Could Affect Penn State Football’s Chances of Hosting a Home Game

Could new College Football Playoff parameters doom Penn State Football’s Chances of home Playoff game before the season even begins?

Beaver Stadium, Penn State Football

With the College Football Playoff expanding from four teams to 12 teams in 2024, there is renewed optimism across college football programs for the chance to compete at the end of the season for the college football national championship.

Along with this new playoff expansion comes new opportunities for programs to cement themselves into the final bracket without necessarily having to win their conference.

While five of the twelve slots will go to conference champions (and the top four ranked conference champions will receive a first-round bye, seven at-large bids will be in play for teams not winning their conference in 2024, with four first-round home playoff games on the line for the remaining eight teams not receiving first-round byes.

On Wednesday, the College Football Playoff Executive Director Rich Clark, however, announced criteria that could dash the hopes of teams around the country hoping for a first-round playoff game in the new college football playoff system, including Penn State.


What Criteria Will the College Football Playoff Committee Use to Decide Host Teams in Round 1?

On Wednesday, Clark announced that “weather, hotel availability, and ticket sales” will play a factor in determining first-round home teams, and the ranking of teams from five through twelve in the new playoff system.

This means that despite having the best resume out of non-conference champions, a team could still find itself not hosting a first-round playoff game because of factors entirely outside of the control of a team and outside of the field of play or scheduling.

Once again, this is another intrusion of corporate profits of TV partners into the outcome of the college football season and against the interests of student-athletes and fans around the country.

How could this affect Penn State Football?

Penn State Football, Penn state Football Recruiting, James Franklin
Head coach James Franklin of the Penn State Nittany Lions (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Penn State could potentially be a victim of the new selection criteria if the Nittany Lions find themselves in the area of a five to twelve ranking at the end of the season.

Here’s how the Nittany Lions would fare on the three factors mentioned by Clark on Wednesday:

Hotel availability: Negative

One of the major complaints against Penn State for visiting fans and home fans alike is hotel availability around the State College area.

Not being located near a major metropolitan area or a more populated city could be seen as a negative in the eyes of the College Football Playoff committee under the new parameters.

Even for big matchups and blue and white weekend, State College hotels are expensive and hard to come by. Hotels are often filled up weeks or months in advance and fans who did not make arrangements at the first availability have to drive miles to Altoona or farther for hotel availability after gameday.

Weather: Negative

This factor is not Penn State-specific, but seems to be a negative against the Big Ten conference as a whole.

Weather in December in State College, Pennsylvania, and throughout the entire north can be unpredictable, and this factor will surely be held against the Big Ten and favor the SEC in scheduling first round games.

Penn State has begun renovations to winterize Beaver Stadium to be able to host a playoff game in December. But, despite the best winterization efforts, snowstorms are possible disruptions to the playoff schedule (see the Buffalo Bills issues with snow during the playoffs) and could factor into the decision to grant Penn State a home playoff game.

Ticket Sales: Positive

This is the lone bright spot in the new criteria for the Nittany Lions.

Penn State consistently has one of the highest ticket sales across college football year after year. The high average attendance and second-largest stadium in the country could potentially be a positive factor in the committee’s eyes in selecting a first-round game.

If Penn State Football is competing with teams with half of the stadium capacity as Beaver Stadium come playoff selection, this factor could push Penn State over other teams as 107,000 playoff tickets would certainly be a revenue boost.

What to Make of New College Football Playoff Criteria?

College Football Playoff
The National Championship trophy is displayed after the Georgia Bulldogs defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide 33-18 in the 2022 CFP National Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 10, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Overall, Penn State Football does not fare well under the new criteria, despite having the second-largest stadium in the country.

We will see how much weight the college football playoff committee puts into each of these criteria come selection Sunday, but the Nittany Lions could be setting up for disappointment if they are fortunate enough to make the playoff field but do not win the Big Ten.

The new selection criteria could place even more importance on the Big Ten championship game for the whole conference if the committee uses the weather criteria to knock out Big Ten teams from home playoff contention. Once again, corporate profits are being placed before actual play and fairness on the field, so no one should be surprised by these new criteria being added by the Committee.

MORE: Penn State’s 2 Key Superstars to Making a College Football Playoff Run


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