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Arizona bolsters security for college football championship

Arizona bolsters security for college football championship
General view of the University of Phoenix Stadium ahead of the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers onFriday. (Christian Petersen / Getty Images)

The city of Phoenix will deploy more security personnel for the college football championship than for last year's Super Bowl as federal authorities warn about the risk of terror attacks at crowded public events.

The title game follows recent attacks in San Bernardino and Paris that have raised alarm and led the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to warn about the possibility of homegrown extremists targeting big events.

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"We've seen so many things recently, Paris, for example. We are going to have a lot of bodies out there looking for that kind of thing," said Shelly Jamison, a Phoenix Fire Department spokeswoman who is helping lead security coordination at the College Football Playoff title game. "We are being very proactive."

Officials anticipate tens of thousands of visitors to flock to concerts and other events this weekend in downtown Phoenix leading up to Monday's game between Clemson and Alabama at University of Phoenix Stadium in suburban Glendale.

Phoenix officials are using much of the same security framework from the Super Bowl, which was held in Arizona last year. But federal officials will play a smaller role, leaving the city to coordinate the operation. Thousands of security personnel at the college game will outnumber those at the NFL championship, but police wouldn't give specifics.

The college game's security effort involves more than 100 entities, including law enforcement, fire officials and the National Guard, said Sgt. Trent Crump, a Phoenix police spokesman.

Sticking with it

College Football Playoff Executive Director Bill Hancock says he does not anticipate any changes being made the next season's schedule when the semifinals will again be played on New Year's Eve.

Television ratings for the semifinals dropped about 36% from last season when the first CFP games were played on New Year's Day. The first game kicked off at a time when many people are at work and the second went up against New Year's party plans.

Hancock says one year "does not make a trend" and playoff and ESPN officials need to study the data to determine how much of the decline was caused by when the games were played. New Year's Eve falls on Saturday this year.

Hall of Fame

Former Washington State offensive lineman Mike Utley, who suffered a spinal cord injury during an NFL game and was paralyzed, is one of 14 players to be selected for induction for the College Football Hall of Fame.

Florida State's Derrick Brooks, Iowa State's Troy Davis and Purdue's Rod Woodson also join this year's class, along with LSU's Bert Jones, UNLV's Randall Cunningham, Ohio State's Tom Cousineau, North Carolina's William Fuller, Wisconsin's Tim Krumrie, Harvard's Pat McInally, Colorado's Herb Orvis, Georgia's Scott Woerner, Ashland's Bill Royce and Nebraska Omaha's Marlin Briscoe.

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