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ESPN College Football Playoff Ranking Reveal Show Needs Re-Thinking

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 05:  A view of the logo during ESPN The Party on February 5, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for ESPN)
Robin Marchant/Getty Images

Everyone is trying to make a buck these days. I get it. Talent is expensive. So is running big studios. Commercials must offset cost. Viewers must tune in to get premium commercial dollars. Getting people to watch your channel is harder than ever. And one way to lure in the innocent viewers is by promising a big reveal.

But let’s be honest. Airing a college football playoff ranking reveal show a month before the final rankings come out is completely useless and everyone should know better than to waste their time watching it anymore. Last night was a perfect example.

In the first CFP ranking reveal show of the year, unveiled on ESPN, Ohio State was No. 1, LSU No. 2, Alabama No. 3 and Penn State No. 4. That leaves defending champion Clemson on the outside looking in, which I guess is supposed to incite debate about who the top four teams in the country really are. And if you needed to be fed the water and not just be brought to the well, ESPN wrote a story about “what that means for Clemson.”

I’ll tell you what that means. Not a damn thing.

Ohio State and Penn State are playing each other in a few weeks. The loser of that game is out of the playoff picture. Simple as that. Hell, Penn State could lose to fellow unbeaten Minnesota this weekend. And guess who is definitely going to lose this weekend? Either Alabama or LSU, as they face off in the biggest game of the season.

Fact is revealing rankings this early in the season takes away from the drama and special feeling of having one reveal show later in the year. Look at March Madness. They reveal the biggest surprises (the mystery bubble teams) in one show. The lead up to that moment is exhilarating. The questions endless. Even better, people debate who should get in for weeks leading up to it, but no one truly knows whose bubble will burst on selection Sunday and who will sneak in. That's drama worth tuning in for. The CFP reveal show on Nov. 5, a month before the final rankings are released Dec. 8, not so much.

If programmers at ESPN were smart, they’d save their ammo for one big night (or at the most two) instead of teasing viewers with useless information that doesn’t create taking points outside of how pointless the current rankings are. The CFP committee still needs to meet this early in the season to discuss merits, but if ESPN held onto that information for a few more weeks, the lead up to the reveal show would certainly create more buzz than last night's dud.

Maybe ESPN does a reveal show the week of the conference championship games and then final ranking show the Sunday after. At least then there would be drama. But commercial dollars and viewership rule, and like the NBA keeping its season 82 games long for only that reason, ESPN won't change unless it makes sense financially.