College Football Playoff, New Year's Six Bowls Lacked Viewers and Drama to End 2015, Begin 2016
Happy New Year!
If you are a college football fan, you probably did one of three things on New Year's Eve this year.
You either stayed in and watched the College Football Playoff semifinals, went out but convinced your significant other or friends to find a place with a television on ESPN, or just missed it all together because that black tie party you attended did not have a television nearby.
The second year of the College Football Playoff era saw the games being played on New Year's Eve. Yes. New Year's Eve.
In the past, you would go out on the final night of the year, hang out with friends, drink too much (it's a drinking holiday) and count down at 11:59:50pm to the new year. Followed by a kiss with your loved one or the random girl or guy you've met while out. The amount of booze you both drank could drown a small village. On January 1, you wake up hungover, swear off alcohol as your New Year's resolution, and turn on ESPN and watch bowl games all day.
But now it's different. With the rotation of the New Year's Six bowls, the Rose Bowl's unwillingness to move out of it's traditional January 1 slot (January 2 if New Year's Day is on a Sunday), it requires two of the three years of the bowl rotation to play the semifinals on December 31.
Now, some of you weren't impacted because you feel that the pressure to go out and do something on New Year's Eve is overrated. But for others, they have friends, family, wives and girlfriends who want to go out and celebrate, because much like a family trip to Disney World, there's an obligation to have fun.
If it makes those of you who missed out on the Orange and Cotton Bowls Thursday night feel better, you really didn't miss much. When the rout was on in the Alabama-Michigan State game, I almost flipped to New Year's Rockin' Eve.
Both Clemson and Alabama dominated in the second half of their games. The Tigers beat Oklahoma 37-17, and the Crimson Tide shut out Michigan State 38-0. The bigger laugher being the latter.
If you're ESPN, who will pay $5.64 Billion to air the playoff games over the next 12 years, you knew your ratings were going to take a hit compared to last year's inaugural playoff that took place on New Year's Day.
The numbers came out, and despite all the commercials and cross-promotions within Disney, they weren't good.
Almost a 40 percent drop! The ratings for the Rose and Sugar Bowls were phenomenal last season, and with this news, ESPN has to be furious about this decision by college football to put the games on during New Year's Eve.
Colin Cowherd had Clay Travis on his radio show Thursday, and they discussed why the ratings suffered.
In a rational world, ESPN and the NCAA would recognize that this will not work going forward. People will not adjust their schedule to watch these games on New Year's Eve, especially when most people (including me) work on December 31. For them to think people will adjust their work schedule and holiday plans to watch these games is arrogant. Cowherd and Travis brought up something you and I who live on the east coast don't think about. The Orange Bowl began at 1pm on the west coast! That flies on New Year's Day, but not New Year's Eve.
The elephant in the room is the Rose Bowl.
I love the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day as much as I love watching the Lions and Cowboys play on Thanksgiving Day. But it appears that nobody is willing to stand up and move the game to 8pm or 8:30pm ET instead of it's traditional 5pm ET kickoff. Nobody cares when the Sugar Bowl is played during the off years of their rotation. They just get to piggyback on the Rose Bowl and get New Year's Day priority every year.
If the Rose Bowl would move to a later start, playoff games could start at 1pm and 4:30pm ET and the Rose Bowl would get the primetime slot. I love turning on the Rose Bowl Game and seeing the sunshine and blue skies, but you have to give and take in this situation if you are on the Rose Bowl committee.
Speaking of Rose Bowl, the non-playoff New Year's Six bowl games provided no drama and lopsided results. The Citrus and Outback Bowls were also duds.
First off, why did the Fiesta Bowl kick off at 11am local time in Glendale? Ohio State and Notre Dame looked like a great matchup on paper with all the NFL Draft prospects playing. Unfortunately, two of the top prospects were out of the game before the first quarter ended. Ohio State's Joey Bosa was ejected for targeting and Notre Dame's Jaylon Smith suffered a significant knee injury.
Also, the Irish have dealt with more injuries than any team should have to endure in one season. The defense was depleted, and the Buckeyes had a field day, winning 44-28. They could've hit 50 if Urban Meyer didn't call of the dogs.
Then there was the Rose Bowl! The reason why we were forced to watch the playoff the night before.
Many, including myself, have criticized Iowa for playing a weak schedule. Those points were validated as Christian McCaffrey made the Hawkeyes stout defense look horrendous in a 45-16 rout. McCaffrey set the tone with an opening kickoff return for a touchdown, and finished the day with three touchdowns, 172 yards rushing, 105 receiving yards, becoming the first player in a Rose Bowl Game to post 100 yards plus rushing and passing, and broke the all-purpose yards record, too.
Other than McCaffrey's amazing day, the other entertaining part of the Rose Bowl was the pandering to Iowa voters that soon-to-be former Republican presidential candidates Carly Fiornia (a Stanford grad) and Mike Huckabee did before the game kicked off.
Fiorina's decision to root against her alma mater is the beginning of the inevitable end of her campaign.
Maybe Iowa voters like bass guitar, Mike?
And last, but not least, the Sugar Bowl. It's the Rose Bowl's little brother who feels like it deserves top billing over every other bowl game. Ole Miss did what Stanford did, and buried the Oklahoma State Cowboys into a 34-3 hole in the first half. It's 41-13 Rebels as I go to post this, so I think it is safe to say Ole Miss won. This game should have been a 1pm kick off, and the Fiesta Bowl deserved the 8:30pm start.
"But it's tradition to play this game on New Year's Day, Sean!"
Yeah, and it was tradition that important games were not played on New Year's Eve, but they changed that two years ago.
Perhaps we should give a pass for this year's format. You might say that it was a test to see if people would watch on New Year's Eve like they would on New Year's Day.
The reality is this. The ratings for the College Football playoff games were bad, the games were bad, and we can only hope that Clemson and Alabama put on a show in the National Championship Game on January 11 in Glendale.
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