Why wasn’t this done sooner? ESPN lobbies for playoff semifinals to be on Jan. 2

John Ourand and Michael Smith of Sports Business Daily have a story about ESPN and next year’s College Football Playoff.

Next season’s semifinals at the Capital One Orange Bowl and the Goodyear Cotton Bowl are scheduled for Dec. 31 but ESPN is pushing the CFP to move those games to Jan. 2, 2016, a Saturday with relatively little competition on TV. The NFL’s regular season concludes that Sunday, Jan. 3, and the league hasn’t had a Saturday game during the final week of its regular season since 2007.

Sources say that senior network executives as high up as ESPN President John Skipper are pushing for the change as a way to get better television ratings, but the CFP is unwilling to make such a move because it is committed to the original plan to hold tripleheader bowl games, including the semifinals, on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

“We’ve started a new tradition and we don’t want to back away from it now,” said Bill Hancock, the CFP’s executive director.

As I noted previously, it is a stupid tradition. People go out on New Year’s Eve. If college football wants to protect the precious Rose Bowl for Jan. 1, then move the semis to Jan. 2. Viewers still will be nursing their hangovers two days later.

Also, why didn’t ESPN push harder for Jan. 2 semis prior to signing this monster deal? Maybe the network did, and is going back for another round after this year’s big ratings for the semis on Jan. 1?

Ourand and Smith note the CFP also has other issues when the NFL decides to expand their playoffs.

Meanwhile, the CFP is facing pressure on another front. The NFL is considering expanding its playoffs and moving one of the new games to Monday night when it would compete directly with the CFP championship.

Sources say NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell initiated a series of high-level meetings with some of the CFP’s most influential commissioners, including the SEC’s Mike Slive and the Big Ten’s Jim Delany. Goodell approached the commissioners to discuss the potential impact an NFL playoff expansion would have on the CFP championship game.

That didn’t go over well.

Hancock said his office has voiced its opposition to putting an NFL playoff game against the CFP championship on Monday night.

“We picked Monday night because it was open and it was the best night for our game. We announced that in June 2012,” Hancock said. “We established that our game was going to be on Monday night for 12 years.”


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