Ohio State fans rejoice: CFP could move away from New Year’s Eve

Ohio State's Michael Bennett at Media Day at the Superdome on Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014, in New Orleans.
Ohio State's Michael Bennett at Media Day at the Superdome on Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014, in New Orleans.

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Ohio State fans – and college football fans in general – worried about having to balance New Year’s Eve celebrations and the pursuit of the national championship in the future could have good news on the horizon.

That is because College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock told reporters at SEC Media Days today the semifinals could be moved to a new date.

While the first year of the CFP – including Ohio State’s upset of No. 1 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl – was a smash hit in 2014-15, the second year was more or less a ratings disaster.

The semifinals saw a decline of 37 and 39 percent from year one to year two, a development thought to be in no small part a result of going through with a long-planned move of the games from New Year's Day to New Year's Eve to accommodate the demand of the Rose Bowl to remain on New Year's Day whether it is hosting a semifinal or not.

With a mid-afternoon start time in the East on a day many people still have to work (unlike on New Year’s Day), Clemson’s win over Oklahoma always faced a big challenge to accumulate viewers last year, but whatever chance the CFP had to salvage the day with a big number at night went out the window when Alabama crushed Michigan State 38-0 in the Cotton Bowl.

The 2016 semifinals (Peach and Fiesta Bowls) are still set for New Year’s Eve, but perhaps they will be the last ones.

Next season they are already set to go back to New Year’s Day with the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl rotating back in, and any change to the schedule might be done by the time New Year’s Eve 2018 rolls around. The Cotton and Orange Bowls are back up that year.

Earlier this week, Hancock told reporters no discussion about expanding the playoff beyond four teams has taken place.

“We set the four-team tournament for 12 years, and there’s no discussion in our group about any kind of expansion,” Hancock said.

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