Why the schedule for college football playoffs is so awkward

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz., June 10 / PRNewswire / – In the short and relatively successful history of college football playoffs, this year's edition could have its most anticipated field.

There are three 13-0 teams – # 1 LSU, # 2 Ohio State, and # 3 Clemson – all of which can provide strong arguments as to why they are national title favorites. There's also plenty of star power, with all four Heisman Trophy finalists, the predicted top 2 picks in the upcoming NFL draft (Joe Burrow from LSU and Chase Young from Ohio State) and the favorite who will be number 1 in 2021 Will (Clemson & # 39; s Trevor) Lawrence).

If there was ever a year for college football to get TV ratings and relevant muscle movements, this would be the right thing. However, this issue is associated with an unpleasant schedule that could affect the visibility of the CFP.

The CFP semifinals will arrive abruptly on Saturday, a likely difficult holiday day. Then there is an unprecedented 16-day gap between the semi-finals and the title game. The way the schedule develops seems to do little to distinguish such a strong group of games in a crowded time of the sports calendar.

The cumbersome schedule brings up the annual question: Do college footballers maximize their best product?

Between the semi-finals on Saturday and the championship game on January 13, there are almost 20 more college bowl games, a full Sunday of NFL games, and eight NFL playoff games over the next two weekends. Hardcore college football markets like Birmingham and Columbus – places that treat the Camelia Bowl like the Super Bowl – are sure to set in. But the lack of the most meaningful semi-finals on New Year's Day combined with the unusually long break will inevitably create confusion and distraction for occasional fans.

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Will college football fans tune in to see Ohio State & # 39; s Chase Young vs. Clemson & # 39; s Trevor Lawrence at the Fiesta Bowl? (Getty)

This year's College Football Playoff semi-final was originally scheduled to take place on December 31. Due to the decline in the calendar, the title game could not be played on the following Monday, the weekday usual for the title game. because that was on January 6th. This didn't give the teams a full week to return, rest, and travel to the next location. So the title game was postponed to the following Monday.

Three years ago, the CFP officials gave up their arrogant idea of ​​holding the Semis on New Year's Eve in non-Rose and Sugar Bowl years. The idea was generally terrible, as millions of people gave up decades of New Year's Eve traditions – parties, dinners, galas – to start a new tradition of watching eight hours of football. The ratings fell by almost 40 percent from 2014 (New Year) to 2015 (New Year's Eve).

While this year's semi-final was postponed before New Year's Eve – much to the delight of the ESPN managers – the title game stayed on January 13th.

"It was too late to change the championship," said Bill Hancock, executive director of College Football Playoff, Yahoo Sports in a phone interview earlier this week. "The gap is there because we are moving away from New Year's Eve. The next time the calendar falls in this direction, the title game will be the sixth."

Does the 16-day window offer more options for what promises to be a vintage championship game? Or is the delay distracting you too much – NFL playoffs, other bowl games, etc. – from what could most be expected in the history of college football playoffs?

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With the small CFP sample sizes, the only certainty is a guaranteed bonanza rating for the CFP semi-finals if the games are played on New Year's Day. The 2014/15 playoff semifinals scored a monster rating on January 1, with Oregon-Florida State (Rose Bowl, 14.8) and Ohio State-Alabama (Sugar Bowl, 15.2) being the top two semifinals. The only comparable semis took place on January 1, 2017/18 with Alabama-Clemson (Sugar, April 11) and Georgia-Oklahoma (Rose, July 13).

The rest are left behind. The largely unforgettable game between Alabama and Washington in the playoffs 2016/17 (Peach, 10.7) was the only one of the six halves to receive a two-digit rating. The other ratings were okay, but it has to annoy college officials that Rose Bowl's non-playoff games – like Ohio State-Washington's 8.9 last year – did at the same stadium as the semi-finals.

Hancock is curious about how the games will repeat on a Saturday and will provide more data on how the games will perform on a new schedule. One of the aspects that affect the data of the CFP semi-final is that many of the games were not competitive. This was the case last year when the games were played before New Year's Eve and on a Saturday when Clemson Notre Dame (Cotton, 9.4) and Alabama blew out Oklahoma (Orange, 9.9) and offered little drama.

The college football playoffs will not lack star power. All four finalists of the Heisman Trophy from this season will take part in one of the two games on Saturday. (Adam Hunger / Getty Images)

The tenor also plays a role in the title games, as last year's Alabama Clemson Blowout rated the worst of the five title games (13.8) as Clemson won 44-16. The national title win of the state of Ohio against Oregon in the period 2014-15 is the highest rated title game at 18.6.

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The simple answer to reviving the middle ratings of semi-finals is complicated to execute. That would make the semi-finals a New Year tradition. However, the contract with Rose Bowl expires in the late afternoon. Imagine the howl of laughter in the NFL offices when someone mentioned playing the NFC title game in a time window that wouldn't maximize the rating. "So it is," said Hancock of the New Year's riddle. "We feel good about the number of spectators and the popularity of the event."

Blocking the Rose Bowl contract with ESPN until 2026 before declaring itself ready for a four-team playoff was a legacy effort by outgoing Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany. The late SEC commissioner Mike Slive responded by running a mirrored Sugar Bowl deal in the New Year’s Day Night Slot, in order not to be completely outwitted. These games either honor tradition or slow progress depending on where your loyalty and bank accounts are.

"If you ever get the Rose Bowl out of your circumstance, the games will take place on January 1st," said an athletic director from Power Five. "Really, they're the ones. At some point you have to say," You can't stop the train. "

Not surprisingly, Delany agrees. "I will probably be a little reluctant if the Rose Bowl is considered an obstacle," Delany told Yahoo Sports. "The Rose Bowl, Big Ten and Pac-12 have done more than their part to make this (CFP) an integrated whole."

In attempting to bypass Rose Bowl's New Year monopoly, the GFP has poorly embraced its New Year's idea. Spectators and fans are affected again this year, with this embarrassing schedule another unintended consequence. And with a college football playoff that has the most exciting field in its six-year history, the sport faces the evil reality of another year in which its best product isn't maximized.

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