Why College Football Playoff Is Making a Mistake with Its Semifinals
With the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) decision-makers meeting in Pasadena, Calif., this week, the format of the College Football Playoff set to begin after the 2014 season is starting to take shape.
The name has been decided on, the logos are being voted on and the schedule for the six-game rotation has been set.
According to CollegeFootballPlayoff.com, the Rose and Sugar Bowls will host the first two semifinal games. And according to their television contracts, those games are locked into time slots at 5 p.m. ET and in prime time on Jan. 1, respectively (except when Jan. 1 falls on a Sunday, when they'll move to Jan. 2).
As a result, since both national semifinals need to be played on the same day to give the competing teams the same amount of rest before the national championship game, those games will be played on New Year's Eve in 2014 and 2015.
The new College Football Playoff website lists the Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl as hosting the semifinals on Dec. 31 following the 2015 season. The Chick-fil-A Bowl and Fiesta Bowls will host semifinals on Dec. 31 following the 2016 season.
So in an effort to "take back New Year's Day," college football is going to schedule four of its first six semifinals on New Year's Eve? One of which (2015) falls on a weekday when people will be at work and or at New Year's Eve celebrations?
That makes no sense.
You're probably going to watch whenever the games are played, but that's not the issue. This isn't about the die-hards or even the causal fan. This is supposed to be a Super Bowl-like event, and appealing to the masses—the casual fan that catches one or two games per year—is what can and will take it to the next level.
Should the semifinals be held on Jan. 1 in the afternoon and night time slots?
I'm an old-school guy. I like the bowl system, I liked the BCS, and I believe that we should fight to keep the new system as a four-team format forever.
Crowning a championship should be about rewarding excellence, not granting access. My fear is that any playoff system that features more than four teams will only be agreed upon if automatic bids are granted for conference champions.
That can't happen.
The decision by the Rose and Sugar to lock into the afternoon and night time slots on Jan. 1 is just part of the reason bowl games have a bad reputation—their desires take precedent over the good of the game. For the bowls, that's fine. It's business and they're looking out for the bottom line. But for college football, it's not.
If we're going to do this, let's do this right.
Creating a two-day event on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day involving all six bowls in the new College Football Playoff format is a start, but that celebration should end with the grand finale—two national semifinals, not Rose and Sugar Bowl games not included in that year's semifinal rotation.
As it is, though, that won't happen...and it's a shame.
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