The College Football Playoff’s executive director announced today that it has shifted its scheduling for the CFP’s semifinal games to ensure that all future contests will be held on either a Saturday or a holiday.
In other words, even the CFP recognizes that holding two of the biggest games of the season on New Year’s Eve, during the middle of the week, isn’t going to engage the casual fan.
Ratings were miserable for the Michigan State-Alabama and Clemson-Oklahoma games last New Year’s Eve — so were the games themselves, in fairness — and the American public quite frankly opted for its annual New Year’s Eve traditions over making time to watch a football game.
But now, the CFP has rightly adjusted to make the games more palatable for fans in two ways: 1.) By holding them on either New Year’s Day, or on the Saturday before it. And New Year’s Day and Saturdays are college football strongholds, of course.
“We had healthy discussions with a lot of people who love college football and we concluded that making these changes would be the right thing to do for our fans.” CFP executive director Bill Hancock said. “We tried to do something special with New Year’s Eve, even when it fell on a weekday. But after studying this to see if it worked, we think we can do better. These adjustments will allow more people to experience the games they enjoy so much.”
So, here is the new schedule, through early 2026:
2016-17 Sat., Dec. 23
2017-18 Mon., Jan. 1
2018-19 Sat., Dec. 29
2019-20 Sat., Dec. 28
2020-21 Fri., Jan. 1
2021-22 Fri., Dec. 31
2022-23 Sat., Dec. 31
2023-24 Mon., Jan. 1
2024-25 Sat., Dec. 28
2025-26 Sat., Dec. 27
Really, the ruling changes things for just four years — ’18-19, ’19-20, ’24-25 and ’25-26. Those years look pretty good, obviously.
But, there are some catches. Like, in 2021-22 and 2022-23, where they still have the games scheduled for a New Year’s Eve. Reason for 2021-22 is, it’s the recognized New Year’s holiday that year. But not sure why the CFP didn’t just push it to Saturday anyway. Maybe I’m missing something, but it’s a Saturday, and it’s New Year’s Day. Who cares when the national holiday technically is? I get why the 2022-23 game has to be played on a New Year’s Eve. They can’t move it to Jan. 1, because it’s a Sunday and that’s the NFL’s day. I just think the CFP would do well on those two New Year’s Eves to consider playing one game at 1 p.m. and the other at 4 p.m. Get them out of the way. Because what happened last year was a disaster. It reeked of NCAA and CFP arrogance, assuming they could take over a day millions devote to family and/or personal celebrations. It didn’t work, and this is the response to that, for sure. And it’s largely a good response. But the 2021-22 games have potential to be ratings stinkers yet again. I think that could be remedied if the CFP resists the lure of prime time.
Like that’s going to happen.