Looking ahead to the College Football Playoff? This ‘RSVP’ concept is brilliant

Want to go to the CFP, but only if your team makes it that far? Check this out

Antjuan Simmons of the Michigan State Spartans disrupts a pass intended for Carter Selzer of the Michigan Wolverines during the second quarter at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 31, 2020 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Nic Antaya, Getty Images)

Attending a major sporting event can be overwhelming: You might have to fly or embark on a road trip just to get there, depending on the location of course, and consider your accommodations, where you’ll stay, eat and how you’ll get around.

And then there are the tickets to the big game. How will you buy them? Will you pay an arm and a leg on the secondary market, or do you have a direct source?

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When it comes to college football especially, the stakes are high: So many fans probably dream of attending the College Football Playoff, but only if their team makes it that far.

So, what do you do if your team is contending for the playoffs, you’d think about going if your squad were indeed one of the four teams selected, and you’re just NOT sure what to do in the interim?

You “RSVP,” of course.

Have you heard of this concept?

It rolled out before the 2018-19 College Football Playoff in Atlanta, and although the program went on a brief hiatus last year due to COVID-19, it’s back and bigger than ever.

Here’s how it works:

Let’s say you’re a Michigan State fan. You’d love to see the Spartans play in the big game, but you’re not interested in buying tickets if the final matchup is going to end up being Georgia-Alabama. There’s still a LOT of season left, but you know one thing for certain: You cannot get left out if it’s State that ends up advancing as one of those four teams.

So you go online to this RSVP website, and you select MSU. Also choose what seat level you’d prefer, if Sparty makes it to the playoff.

As of midday Thursday, you had the chance to buy an RSVP for $9.98 a seat (for the upper level -- a lower-level RSVP is $29.96). This means if you bought it now -- $10 per person if you don’t mind the upper level -- you’d now be able to buy real College Football Playoff tickets, if the Spartans advance.

And if they don’t advance? You do lose out on the money. But if you’re a die-hard fan, perhaps $10 is worth the risk.

And no, it doesn’t appear your $10 will go toward the price of the real ticket. This is just a form of insurance, if you will, meaning, for $10, you can buy the right to purchase CFP tickets directly from the source: No secondary market, or markup, involved.

“You’re locking in the right to pay face value,” said Rob Boaz, the Chief Operating Officer of Dibit, the company that operates the CFP RSVP program, which has a multi-year deal with the CFP.

And rest assured, Boaz said, if you buy an RSVP and your team makes it to the playoff, you’ll be purchasing guaranteed tickets from the CFP. The CFP website even links to this RSVP site.

“So you’re not going to get to the gate and worry,” Boaz said.

A fan-friendly program

Boaz loves the idea that this was created with fans in mind.

“Sure, a large chunk of teams have no shot, but college football fandom is crazy -- this is a form of fandom,” Boaz said.

This year has been a great example of how the system works.

Probably no one expected the Michigan Wolverines to have the year they’re now enjoying. Pricing for Michigan RSVPs started at $5 for a lower-level ticket earlier this season, Boaz said, adding that Michigan State’s prices were even cheaper, at about $3.

Now, both teams are ranked in the top 10 heading into a showdown set for Saturday in East Lansing. If one of these teams goes on to win the Big Ten, it’s likely that they’d be included in the playoff.

So, if you’re thinking about snagging an RSVP, Spartans or Wolverines, now would be the time.

“Because whoever wins Saturday’s game, the price is going to go up,” Boaz said.

If you’re NOT a fan, it might be a hard concept to wrap your head around. But if you love college football, it likely makes perfect sense.

The details

Boaz aims to make this as easy as possible to understand.

“We’re definitely not trying to trick anyone,” he said. “I’d rather someone not buy, than buy and think it’s something it’s not.”

There’s some risk involved, but the concept takes a bit of risk out of the equation, as well.

“It allows you to lock in a price,” Boaz said. “You know what you’ll be paying if your team makes it. I equate it to buying insurance on your team. Sure, you might be out a little bit of money if they don’t make it, but (that comes with the territory).”

Georgia prices, by the way, are through the roof right now at $654, with lower-level RSVPs going for $1,000. If you consider that the Bulldogs have the highest chance of making the playoff, then it makes sense.

So, all this to say, buying an RSVP might not be worth it for everyone -- it all depends on your level of commitment and fandom. The program likely isn’t intended for every person. Read the FAQs.

You can go on to sell your RSVP, too. (More details on that HERE). We won’t get into the weeds on every detail involved, but you can read about in that link listed earlier, if you’re curious.

The program has sold to fan bases of about 70 different schools.

“Now you can sit back and watch the season, knowing you’ll be able to buy a guaranteed, lock-in ticket if your team makes it,” Boaz said.

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