Deliberations begin early for 2016 TaxSlayer Bowl team selections
Each college football season, TaxSlayer Bowl president and CEO Rick Catlett carefully strategizes to pick the winning combination.
Competitive teams. National TV exposure. Ticket-buying fans who travel.
There are dozens of scenarios to consider as each Saturday comes and goes in college football. As teams win or lose, Catlett and the 23 member volunteer TaxSlayer Bowl selection committee gain clarity.
“After the College Football Playoff teams have been selected, the effort is to make intriguing matchups in all of the bowls that will be good for fans to watch not only on television but for the fans that travel to the games,” Catlett said in a recent interview with TaxSlayer.
The College Football Playoff selection committee on Tuesday released its first rankings that will decide the four teams that play in the semi-final games leading to the National Championship.
“The CFP gives the fans what they want which is the crowning of a true national champion,” Catlett said.
The College Football Playoff, now in its second year, allows bowl games the opportunity to select teams that create a competitive matchup and give an economic boost to the bowl location, he said. Catlett, also president and CEO of the Jacksonville Sports Council, added that bowl games were originally created to drive economic development.
Catlett’s work begins several weeks before Bowl Selection Sunday on Dec. 6. He is continuously discussing TaxSlayer Bowl opportunities with college athletic directors and representatives from other bowl games.
Beginning in November, the TaxSlayer Bowl selection committee meets in Jacksonville, Fla. where the game is played at EverBank Field. The committee meets for about 30 minutes to deliberate which teams would be the best matchup for national TV ratings and ticket sales.
“Sometimes that deliberation goes one way and it ends up not being the right way to have gone because teams don’t respond necessarily,” he said. “Last year in our game, we thought we had two evenly matched teams and as the game played out, Tennessee beat Iowa by a lot of points. People started turning televisions off in the second half and we didn’t produce the television ratings we thought we’d have.”
TaxSlayer Bowl representatives attend the championship games for the SEC, ACC and Big 10 conferences on the day prior to CFP selection day. On the morning of Dec. 6, the TaxSlayer Bowl committee waits for the top four teams to be announced.
“As soon as the top four are picked, that’s where the real work begins,” Catlett said.
The TaxSlayer Bowl is grouped into a pool with the Outback, Music City, Texas and Belk bowls which all choose from the SEC conference. The negotiations are made between the conferences, schools and athletic directors, Catlett said.
The TaxSlayer Bowl selection committee has already eliminated several teams from the SEC, ACC and Big 10 based on their performances this season and other factors, Catlett said. Each week in November, the teams are narrowed down even more.
Catlett said he has a good idea of the two teams who will play in bowl game about 10 days before making the final selection.
The TaxSlayer Bowl airs on ESPN at noon on Jan. 2.
TaxSlayer will bring you updated reports in the weeks leading up to Selection Sunday. Check back here for more on the TaxSlayer Bowl and the two teams that will match off in Jacksonville.