Influenced in recent years by the allure of television money and the decisions of those cashing the checks, college football disappointingly abandoned New Year’s Day. Sure, the Rose Bowl remained steadfast in its afternoon slot but the era of high-profile matchups dotting the entire TV lineup and curing that splitting headache became nostalgic, a memory in a distant and more sober past.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might have goofed in not accepting ESPN’s offer for broadcast rights but he hit a considerable marketing home run on January 1st. The Winter Classic represented a brilliant ploy to draw in the casual fan. It works for the uniqueness, the rarity and the general intrigue for those wondering how a rink looks in the middle of Wrigley Field.
With the advent of a college football playoff following the 2014 season, the suits in charge committed to reclaiming their traditional date on the calendar. Six bowls, spread out over the course of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day figure to quell whatever plans your significant other had in mind. Quite simply, college football just decided where I’ll be December 31st for as long as the current setup lasts. And by that I mean, wherever the wife has friends and I can still see a television. There’s no better locale on January 1st than your own couch and now instead of feigning interest in a colder regional sport, the entertainment level spikes akin to the disdain felt for a person that walks into a New Year’s party with bottom-shelf liquor after age 22.
In a hypothetical world where the Sugar and Fiesta Bowls host the first semifinals, the schedule might look something like this:
Early afternoon: Orange Bowl
Late afternoon: Chick-Fil-A Bowl
Evening: Sugar Bowl (#2 seed vs. #3 seed)
Early afternoon: Cotton Bowl
Late afternoon: Rose Bowl
Evening: Fiesta Bowl (#1 seed vs. #4 seed)
The following Monday, assuming seven days of lag time for the victors in each seminfinal, the national championship is then played in Cowboys Stadium. Let’s go ahead and give the inaugural game to Jerry Jones because unless Mark Zuckerberg suddenly takes up for the city of San Francisco, no one’s outbidding the former Razorback.
It might not be a perfect system but as has been rehashed more than Pete Carroll’s affinity for surfing, it’s one worth watching. That’s especially true on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day as college football fans revel in their own Woodstock of fantastic tilts. The only downside to the schedule is it’s still two years away. Until then, I’ll stick to my New Year’s Day plans of peering at the Winter Classic through half-shut eyes and wondering how in the hell it became such a chore to stay up past midnight.