College football is its own worst enemy. And it has been for years. That’s particularly true when it comes to the sport’s governing bodies and powers that be, who have truly earned their place other failing institutions in sports like FIFA and the IOC. The continued ineptitude and impotence of the NCAA has turned it into little more than a house of cards. And the power structures, inequalities, and downright exploitation of athletes that still plagues college athletics is no closer to actually being solved.
Even when college football stumbles into unbelievable success, these powers that be still find a way to screw it up. The sport was dragged into a college football playoff kicking and screaming decades too late and the results were extraordinary. The three playoff games are now the three biggest audiences in the history of cable television.
So naturally, with now arguably the second biggest annual event in sports behind the Super Bowl firmly within its grasp, the oligarchy of the bowl system and the College Football Playoff will do everything possible to ruin it.
With the success of the inaugural playoff, we were one of the first to point out that the second edition had an odd loophole – the semifinals would be played on New Year’s Eve instead of New Year’s Day because of the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl being locked into their timeslots. Of course, everyone outside the playoff committee and the bowls realized this was absurd. The semifinals should never be played on December 31st because the CFP would be taking a machete to their own audience. The semis would draw a fraction of the audience on New Year’s Eve that they would on New Year’s Day. Even ESPN lobbied for the college football playoff committee to see the light and move the semis to Saturday, January 2nd next season because the current playoff schedule is just that ridiculous.
And to the surprise of no one, the playoff committee will not be moved from the happy little rut they’ve dug themselves into. According to a report from ESPN’s Heather Dinich, the CFP semis are staying on December 31st this year:
The College Football Playoff will not move its semifinal date for the 2015 season, in spite of a request from ESPN to change it from New Year’s Eve to Jan. 2, 2016.
The 2015 semifinals — to be played at the Capital One Orange Bowl and the Goodyear Cotton Bowl — are scheduled for Dec. 31.
“We [the playoff’s management committee] reviewed it and rejected it,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said. “We like the concept that we’ve developed for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Going forward, we think that’s the right model for college football.”
Ten FBS commissioners, along with Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, comprise the playoff’s management committee.
Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff, confirmed no change would be made. He said those conversations are “over and done with.”
“We’re not going to change,” Hancock said. “It’s a done deal.”
This just shows the lunacy of the decision. The best reason why the playoff committee refuses to change is because they refuse to change. The fact that they think they can suddenly make New Year’s Eve into a night where America will want to sit down in front of a television and watch a football game is the height of delusion. The New Year’s Six playing a non-playoff game on New Year’s Eve isn’t the worst idea in the world, but for the playoff games? There’s a reason why nobody has ever scheduled anything of consequence beyond Ryan Seacrest, Pitbull, or some kind of sideshow daredevil stunt for New Year’s Eve. If the semifinals draw over half of the 28 million that watched this year on New Year’s Eve, it will be quite the accomplishment.
It’s hard to find the right words to describe just how short-sighted and narrow-minded this decision is, especially when it’s such an easy fix. Move the semis to Saturday or have the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl make a sacrifice that’s best for college football. For once college football could have put what’s best for the sport and best for its fans first. Yet once again, they refused.
The decision to play the semifinals on the night of December 31st is so bad it makes Roger Goodell look like the intelligent one when it comes to football’s power brokers.