Should Locations of Bowl Games Be Kept More Neutral?

By Mike Atkinson
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns defeated the East Carolina Pirates 34-43 today in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

Offense was on display as both schools set a bowl record for first half points scored, and both finished with high yardage totals.

UL Lafayette jumped out to an early lead, but ECU ended up making this a great game, down to the final play.

The thing about this game that caught my attention the most though, was the crowd.

The game was played in New Orleans, LA, in front of 48,828 fans.

The crowd quickly became a factor for ECU. Especially late in the game, ECU had to burn time outs because of crowd noise and had trouble getting a few snaps off.

When calls went against the Cajuns, the crowd booed, and throughout the game there was a crowd reaction in favor of the Cajuns. As the camera panned around the stadium, there was red all over the crowd. Any ideas why?

Well, UL Lafayette is located in Lafayette, LA, 141 miles from the Mercedes-Benz Dome, where the game was played. According to MapQuest, this is roughly a two and a half hour trip.

ECU on the other hand, is 949 miles from the stadium, roughly a 15 hour trip. For players, flight is an option. However, when fan bases travel, not many offer flights to see the team play.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize why there were more Ragin’ Cajun fans at this game. Essentially, this was a home game for them. This is not the only bowl game throughout the years where location could have favored one team.

In 2008, the Ohio State Buckeyes played the LSU Tigers for a national championship in the Louisiana Superdome.

The stadium had the word “Louisiana” in it. There’s no way a game as big as a national championship should be played in a “neutral” site, where one team has a clear distance advantage.

I’d even say smaller bowls, like the New Orleans Bowl should be kept more neutral. Part of the fun of bowl games is being able to travel to a stadium where no one has a clear-cut advantage.

The worst part about this is that sometimes, the lower ranked team can get a free home-field advantage just because of the bowl it landed in.

It would be hard to find a way to fix this problem, but something needs to be done. Right?

Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeAtkinsonRS or visit his Rant Sports Author Page.


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