The College Football Playoff played its first semifinal games on New Years Day. That proved a natural success. The trouble is that will only happen one of every three years, when the Rose Bowl is one of the semifinal games. Other years, the games will be played on New Years Eve, to accommodate the Rose Bowl. That’s terrible. Here’s why.
Playoff Semifinals are Not Bowl Games. Bowl games are frivolous exhibitions. ESPN hypes every game as vital. But, even avid college football fans can skip the Orange Bowl or Cotton Bowl and not be put out. Playoff games, in contrast, are essential. You can’t be a fan of college football and skip those games. Almost every college football media member has to work during them. This is not a choice. It’s an imposition.
New Years Eve is not New Years Day. New Years Day is a college football holiday. Most people have the day off. Many are hungover. Few schedule events. THE MO for the day is couch, football and pants, eventually. New Years Eve is a real life holiday. Many work during the day. Some have wild party plans. But, most adults have some obligation that evening. That could be that friend who has a party every year. That could just be your family wanting to spend time with you. New Years Eve weddings are a thing.
New Years Eve is a conflict and an inconvenience. There’s a difference between offering regular season content on a holiday (a la NBA on Christmas) and all but forcing fans to alter holiday plans with playoff content. This is akin to the NFL mandating the Super Bowl gets played on Valentine’s Day.
The reasoning behind this is stupid. College Football’s postseason was founded on conflict avoidance. Why is the playoff scheduled for New Years Eve? Because no one would have that uncomfortable conversation with the Rose Bowl Committee. That’s it. Schools, Conferences and TV networks have all the power. We’ve passed the point where the Rose Bowl could pack up the Big Ten and the Pac 12 and sashay off into its sunset. Bowls are fortunate to still exist in their present, relevant form. That includes the Granddaddy of them all.
It is bad for the playoffs and the bowls. Again, playoff semifinals are not bowl games. They hoover all the attention. Games from the night before will dominate discussion. Far less meaningful games played the day after will be a complete afterthought. Scheduling the playoff on New Years Eve siphons away the casual audience. Having the playoff on New Years Eve engenders fatigue and disinterest for the bowl games on New Years Day. Ratings, for both, will be lower.
[Photo via USAT]