Should College Football Playoff Change Dates?

    Because college football fans might be lost to the contrived zaniness that is Kathy Griffin … I case you haven’t heard, ESPN would like the playoff games

    January 26, 2015

    Because college football fans might be lost to the contrived zaniness that is Kathy Griffin … I case you haven’t heard, ESPN would like the playoff games for the 2015 season moved from New Year’s Eve – a ratings dud since everyone is busy getting all drinky – to New Year’s Day, like last season, to get the ratings boost. Meanwhile, the NFL is taking a break from figuring out who deflated its balls and looking to crank up an extra wild-card playoff game on a Monday night, which would interfere with the CFP championship game. 

    It’s actually not a horrible idea to move the playoff games this year from December 31st to January 2nd – like ESPN wants to do – for a variety of reasons. Logistically, the games can’t be moved to January 1st. The Goodyear Cotton and the Capital One Orange are the playoff games this season, and since the Rose Bowl is still the Rose Bowl and it can’t be budged off of New Year’s Day, either one playoff game has to be held after – like it was when the Sugar followed the Rose last season – and one either before or after, or both playoff games have to be held on a different day. Moving the games to January 2nd makes perfect sense. 

    It’s a Saturday and there aren’t any scheduled NFL games. The CFP can have the day all to itself that would take on the same life as the NFL conference championship Sunday – it would be all anyone would be talking about – and the ratings would be absolutely enormous compared to December 31st, no matter who’s playing. 

    Secondly, it would make for a three-day extravaganza of bowls leading up to the main event. As it’s scheduled now, the playoff games would be on the 31st, making the New Year’s Day games anti-climactic, to say the least. December 31st can load up with a slew of good bowl games – including a few “New Year’s Six” to have their own moments in the spotlight, New Year’s Day is New Year’s Day with a smorgasbord of games in the morning followed up by the Rose and the Sugar, and then Saturday the 2nd would be absolutely massive. 

    It’s not like there’s a CFP tradition to mess with – it’s only Year Two, and no one would care if the games are moved to Saturday. In fact, husbands around the country would probably be very, very grateful. 

    And then there’s the NFL issue. 

    Yes, the NFL is the NFL, and nothing else on the planet matters – governments are falling, people’s heads are being chopped off as a business practice, and yet PSI coverage is front-and-center on every news program – but in this case, no. The NFL might get to do whatever the hell it wants to, but it’s not dumb enough to put a playoff game on at the same time as the CFP national championship. The CFP types will be lobbied to move the game off a Monday night, but in this case – unlike the move off of December 31st – this does become a problem. 

    It’s not as easy as simply sticking the national championship on a random Wednesday, because that kills the whole idea of the title game as a destination event. As is, the goal is to create a four-day weekend of fun starting with Friday night and leading up to the game on Monday. The TV ratings will be solid no matter what day it’s on, but on this, the CFP should stand firm. For corporate tie-ins, logistics, and simply getting the fans in town and providing all that goes with building the branding of the national championship game as a THING, no, it shouldn’t be moved. 

    My best guess is that the CFP makes a deal with ESPN – who also loves the idea of a Monday Night Football wild-card – and moves the playoff games off of December 31st to January 2nd in exchange for not messing with the Monday night national championship day. 

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