Say this for Jerry Jones: He’s always been a shrewd businessman. It’s true that applying the financial savvy that it takes to turn a new stadium into a profit-making engine may have had real on-field costs in terms of lost homefield advantage— but as long as he continues to own the most valuable team in the NFL (by a $500,000,000 margin) and the fifth most valuable franchise in all of worldwide sports, everything’s coming up Jerry.
Using that stadium for other events, meanwhile, is just another giant drop in the giant bucket full of money that Jones presumably bathes in, Scrooge McDuck-like, every night. One of those other events, though, may end up conflicting with the Cowboys surprising turn as strong contenders to host a postseason game or two at the stadium formerly known as JerryWorld:
The contract to host the debut College Football Playoff championship in January assumed there would be a week and a half to prepare AT&T Stadium for that milestone game.
The Dallas Cowboys are now running roughshod over those plans.
AT&T Stadium’s home team could have a shot at its first playoff appearance since 2010. That poses logistical challenges with the possibility of an NFL playoff game and the college football championship just a day or two apart on the same field.
The original plan calls for the College Football Playoff to take over the stadium on Jan. 2, the day after the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic. The organization would then have a long lead time to prepare for the Jan. 12 championship game, which replaces the old BCS championship. The game is expected to be the nation’s second-highest-rated sporting event of the year, behind only the Super Bowl.
Now, there’s still a lot of football left to play, but the Cowboys are 6-1, with five of their final nine games against teams with losing records. They’ve also got wins on the books against likely NFC playoff contenders in Seattle and New Orleans, which would give them the tiebreaker in determing who would play at home in the playoffs. No one needs to crown the Cowboys as winning the NFC just yet, but it’s funny that, when making plans for how the stadium would be used after the Cowboys’ final home game of the regular season, the possibility that the team might need it for the playoffs didn’t enter into the math.
It would be hypocritical of us not to note that, had the NCAA Championship Game announcement come with a caveat in the summer that all of this would be subject to change in the eventuality that the Cowboys host a home game, we’d have made fun of Jones’ hubris for thinking his team had a shot. But we play the hand we’re dealt.
Meanwhile, Rick Baker of the host committee for the NCAA game (and president/CEO of the Cotton Bowl Classic) explained to the Dallas Morning News that “there were contingencies built into the schedule, much like emergency plans for bad weather.”
“There’s nothing operationally that can’t be handled by the stadium in terms of turning it from an NFL playoff game to a national championship game,” he said.
Something similar was done as recently as January 2012, when the BCS Championship Game was played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome two days after a New Orleans Saints-Detroit Lions playoff game.
That’s fair, even if comparing a Cowboys playoff run to “emergency plans for bad weather” is a pretty funny frame. Of course, getting that stadium ready for big events has proven difficult in the past, but presumably they’ve learned from the mistake.
In any case, Jerry Jones was probably just doing Jerry Jones here: making a deal that paid a little extra, with the knowledge that he could change the plan if he had to. Faulting Jerry for Jerrying is a sucker’s game, in the end—but still, you probably wouldn’t see an organization like the Seahawks or the Patriots making deals to turn over their stadium to the NCAA right before the playoffs.