A JERSEY GUY: Bowls Need To Re-Establish New Year's Day Turf--Permanently
The DNA in the college football bowl system is slowly draining and no one seems to care.
Or care enough to fix it.
And it can be fixed.
For all intents and purposes, the drama from the college football bowl system climaxed on Dec. 28th with No. 1 LSU's romp over No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 3 Clemson's highly-entertaining win over No. 2 Ohio State.
Those games should have set up one final showdown between LSU and Clemson in New Orleans this Monday.
Did that happen?
Not even close.
Two weeks is too long to wait between games, but the CFP got caught in a bind when an experiment with the semifinals being played on mid-week New Year's Eve a few years ago was a ratings flop.
So they compromised by pushing the semifinals to the first available Saturday (Dec. 28th), but they had already committed to a January 13 championship date, which couldn't be moved.Thus creating a 16 day break between games since playing two games in less than a week (Wed to Monday), which was not acceptable.
This has created a snafu list of post semifinal games.
Since the LSU and Clemson games were played on Saturday, an 18 additional bowl games were scheduled AFTER the Semifinals.
To me that is the equivalent of playing the Final Four semifinals in college basketball on a Saturday night and then playing two weeks of games before the championship game.
What makes matters worse is that New Year's Day--which was once college football's almost UNCHALLENGED domain--was reduced to a series of games between conference runners up, with little meaning and no drama extending beyond the stadium grounds and the fan base of the competing teams.
And please don't bring up the pageantry and beauty of the Rose Bowl,
No one is questioning that.
It is the best game in the best venue. And it should be anchored in that 4-5 p.m (Eastern) time slot as long as they play bowl games.
But we live in an era of playoffs, which has gone from two to four and probably and inevitably 8 teams.
But the Rose Bowl is part of the Final Four package only once every three years, which means when it is a meaningful game between champions and Top 4 ranked teams.
Next year, the Final Four semifinals will have some punch since the games are the Rose and Sugar Bowls.
But consider this.
If the power-that-be in college football had insisted that the semifinals had to be played on January 1, we could have had this New Year's Day line up:
Peach-LSU vs. Oklahoma
Rose: Oregon vs. Wisconsin
Fiesta-Clemson vs. Ohio State
Good solid match ups. Reasonably entertaining games.
But it's New Year's Day. I expect more and better.
And of the participants, Oregon was the only conference champion and the Ducks didn't make it into the Final Four. Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota Alabama and Georgia were all coming off losses.
The problem is that no adjustments are expected to be made.
Here's how the system works.
Some advertising and TV suits in New York tell the CFP suits in Texas that you can get good ratings number putting any two teams in bowl games on New Year's Day.
The CFP guys go to the Conference commissioners with power (Big Ten, SEC) leagues and say we can get good money for New Year's Day games between non-champions.
And the 6 CFP playoff bowls can also bring in money if you play them on other days because people will watch and ad rates will go up and more money goes into the cash register. Besides every three years, we have the Rose and Sugar (who are contractually anchored to Jan 1 and those time slots) playing CFP semifinal games.
So it's going to stay the same and the longer we go, with more bowls (we are at 40 and more coming next season) being added and perhaps more playoff teams involved, the bowl system will morph into mush.
There's a simple way to fix this, of course.
Anchor the Rose Bowl and surround it with the two CFP semifinal games on January 1. The only problem will be to get the Sugar Bowl to move to a New Year's Eve time slot two out of every three years.
When the Rose and Sugar are Semifinals, stick in a CFP Playoff bowl such as the Cotton, Peach or even Fiesta, into an early afternoon (Eastern) time slot.
Normally, we would say that putting the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Eve is a deal breaker,
But New Orleans is probably the one city in the country that make a New Year's Eve time slot (especially if you start it at 6 p.m. local time) that integrate a bowl game into New Year's Eve parties before and after the game.
For now, we live with more bowl games AFTER the semifinals and a fading interest in college football by mid-January as Super Bowl mania grips the country.
Come to think of it, that used to be played in January, but is now played in February.
Happy New Year.