Green College Sports

Green College Football National Championship Game I


Last year, GreenSportsBlog held the first-ever Green Super Bowl, ranking the participating teams and cities (Seattle and Denver), on a series of green metrics (which city is greener, which stadium is greener, etc.)

Our über-scientific* approach resulted in a 32-26 Seattle victory — which they then amplified on the field with a 43-8 beat-down in Super Bowl XLVIII.

Now that college football has come to its senses by going to a four-team playoff system, College Football Championship I is on tap in Dallas Monday night, with the Oregon Ducks taking on the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Would you expect anything less from GreenSportsBlog than a Green College Football Championship I? I thought not!



The University of Oregon Ducks are a 5.5 point favorite to defeat the Ohio State Buckeyes in the first-ever college football championship game ever decided via a playoff format. If there were a betting line on who would win a Green College Football Championship match between Oregon and Ohio State, that point spread would be much bigger in favor of Oregon. But is the conventional wisdom wise in this case?

Let’s find out–it’s on to Green College Football Championship I!



Oregon is considered one of the greenest states in the US.

Portland, its biggest city, is often mentioned as the country’s greenest city.

Ohio is not in the same league but Northeast Ohio (which encompasses Cleveland) earns points with its plans to build green industries that could, according to a September 2014 story by Amy Nordrum of Inside Climate News, “jumpstart the economy and reduce pollution at the same time.”

Unfortunately, politicians at the state level, led by Governor John Kasich (R), are moving in the opposite direction.

Again, from Nordrum’s piece: “Earlier this summer, Kasich helped pass Senate Bill 310, which froze the state’s own goals for increasing the proportion of renewable energy produced and purchased within state borders…(The bill’s) targets required 12.5 percent of the electricity sold by Ohio utilities to come from renewable sources and 12.5 percent to come from advanced energy (which includes co-generation, nuclear power and clean coal). Before the freeze, supporters considered these mandates an important driver of long-term demand for wind and solar power.

The two-year delay made coal-dependent Ohio the first state to officially halt its own renewable energy targets.”

Not good.

Oregon 14
Ohio State 3




Eugene, Oregon (2014 population: 156,000) earns high marks in almost all green categories, from energy management to operations, from waste disposal to green building (public buildings have been built to LEED standards since 2006.)

It’s tough to compare Eugene (college town) to Columbus, Ohio’s capital and largest city (2013 population: 822,000) but, hey, that’s what we’re here for.

Columbus’ citizens get impressive grades for Green Columbustheir grassroots effort that organizes the “largest Earth Day volunteer service project in the nation.” But, while the city government’s website prominently features green content (the “Green Spot”), its commitment to sustainability is not as broad and deep as Eugene’s.

Oregon 13
Ohio State 7



Given the city and state in which it’s located, is it any surprise the Oregon Athletics Department is into greening in a big way? An advanced recycling/composting system inside Autzen Stadium (capacity 59,000) is paired with a recycling program in the tailgating area. From 2011 to 2012 (most recent year for which data is available), Oregon Athletics increased Autzen’s diversion rate from 20 to 61 percent.

And yet, that record pales in comparison to that of Ohio State’s.

The Buckeyes, through its well-promoted, Zero-Waste program, achieved a stunning 95.2 percent diversion rate for its 2014 home games at gigantic Ohio Stadium (capacity 106,000, nearly twice that of Autzen).

Like the almost-perfect football team (one loss, to Virginia Tech, going into the Championship Game), OSU’s Zero-Waste program was near perfect, with an individual game high diversion rate of 98.6 percent recorded at the Indiana game.


What’s makes Ohio State’s Zero-Waste football games even more impressive is that they are doing it in a state that is not particularly green. Ohio State football is light years ahead of Columbus’ pro sports teams (the NHL’s Blue Jackets and MLS’ Crew) which, seemingly, are not engaged at all in greening (Why not? Great question!)

And, in this metric, it’s also ahead of Oregon.

Oregon 10
Ohio State 20



Ohio State’s colors are scarlet and gray. No green there. And, if you saw Oregon’s semi-final 59-20 destruction of Florida State, you saw the Ducks decked out all in green. This, of course, makes sense — green and gold are Oregon’s colors after all.

Game, set and green match to Oregon, right?


Oregon has switched its look for the title game, going with a cool/hip (supposedly–I know very little about hip), white-gray look. No green. At all.

Luke Winkie got it right IMHO on Friday: “Abandoning your school color in an attempt to bring the first ever national championship to the school is apocalyptic. That’s venturing into territory that gets even the most resolute sports fans shaking…I guarantee you that every Oregon fan across the country is thinking, Man, can’t we just wear the stuff we always wear?”

Makes sense to me. This could cost the Ducks, juju-wise on the field and it’ll cost ’em a bit in the Green Championship.

Oregon -3
Ohio State 0



Ohio State should be incredibly proud of its leadership in Zero-Waste. Let’s hope its a harbinger for greener sports (and governance) in Columbus and statewide. But, until that happens, Oregon’s overall greenness (from the Ducks at Autzen Stadium, to the city of Eugene and to the state itself) carries the day in the Green College Football Championship I.***

Oregon 34
Ohio State 30



A final note about the actual game being played tonight at AT&T Stadium outside of Dallas. The NCAA, through Playoff Green, is doing what it can to make the event as green as possible, considering they don’t control the venue–it is the not-at-all-green home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. In addition to what is now basic green sports event management (i.e. recycling, distribution of unused prepared food to people in need, etc.), Playoff Green:

  1. Will run water conservation messaging during the game on the giant scoreboard
  2. Conducted a tree planting contest  (who can plant the most trees the fastest) among teams of students from colleges in the Dallas-North Texas area
  3. Is powering the game via Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from wind farms in the area (program managed by TerraPass.)


** Apologies to Lee Corso of ESPN College Football Gameday
***And for what it’s worth, I see the Ducks winning a close game on the field as well.



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