National Championship: How One Phone Call Brought the Big Game to Indy

by Jonathan Howard
(Photo by Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

College football fans, the end of the season is almost upon us. Indianapolis will host the national championship, and it’s all thanks to one phone call.

Let’s rewind the clock a little bit. The year is 2017 (Oh my God, that was five years ago). The fall season was well underway and the college football season was going as expected. The folks over at the Indiana Sports Corp were going about their usual business.

Then, a phone call came into Susan Baughman. It was the CFP national office based out of Texas. They wanted to know if Indianapolis would like to be the host city for 2022.

The national championship game used to be a bidding process. Cities would put in their proposals and hope they were chosen. However, in 2017, things changed and the process became invite-only. Indy was offered and, of course, they took the chance to host the big game. IndyStar had all the details.

Lucas Oil Stadium has been home to so many great events. Last year they hosted the entire NCAA tournament in college basketball. However, Indy had to prove itself to the CFP. They had to show that they could be the host city and put on a great weekend of events and the national championship game. Oh, and it was 2022 or bust, no chances at another date.

So, Baughman quickly got the 2022 College Football Playoff Host Committee put together for Indianapolis. “We got really excited about it,” she said. “[The committee] had been watching the event grow since its first year. We figured it would be a bit before we would get our foot in the door… Then that phone call came and that was it. It changed everything.”

Oh, and they were only given five weeks to plan it all out.

National Championship Planning Done in Record Time

There are all kinds of events that a city like Indy would want to host. Each one takes a certain proposal process. NBA All-Star Weekend, the Super Bowl, college basketball national championship, and even Olympic Trials in various sports.

However, when it comes to making those proposals, those plans can take one to two years to put together. Baughman and her team got five weeks. Use it or lose it. Get it done or say goodbye to one of the biggest events in American sports.

“It wasn’t a situation where we said, ‘If we can’t do it in 2022, can we do it in 2023?'” Baughman explained. “It was kind of like, ‘You need to figure it out.’ And that makes you a little bit nervous.”

Before the national championship could happen, schedules were made. Hotels and businesses were called. And there were a lot of sleepless nights. Now, it looks like it will all pay off on Monday night. Alabama. Georgia. A champion will be crowned when it is all said and done.