“We’ve started a new tradition and we don’t want to back away from it now.”

I see Bill Hancock is moving his lips again.  The CFP is facing some pretty formidable pressure.

The College Football Playoff is under pressure on two fronts to adjust future schedules for its semifinals and championship games, sources say, but the CFP is standing firm on its original dates.

On one of those fronts, top ESPN executives are lobbying CFP officials to move next season’s semifinals off of New Year’s Eve where it would compete with highly rated star-filled countdown shows on several networks…

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…

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.

The 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick make up the management council that oversees the College Football Playoff.

If the NFL ends up expanding the number of teams that make its postseason, the league would need two more TV windows to account for the new games. In separate meetings, Goodell told the college commissioners that any playoff expansion likely would put a wild-card game on Monday night, sources said.

The CFP’s 12-year contract with ESPN calls for the title game to be played on a Monday night, typically the second Monday in January.

Standing firm against ESPN and the NFL?  Yeah, suuurrre.

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.”

Given what we’ve seen of Hancock’s bluffing ability from past pronouncements, I have no doubt that Mickey will take his line in the sand with all the seriousness it deserves.  I doubt anyone’s quaking in his or her boots yet.

Adding fuel to the fire is that ESPN would be caught in the middle of any conflict between the CFP and NFL playoff expansion.

ESPN’s CFP contract mandates that the games are carried on ESPN — not ESPN2 or ESPNU, sources say. Plus, cable sources say that some of ESPN’s affiliate deals contain language that would prohibit the network from putting either the CFP championship or an NFL playoff game on ABC.

The NFL almost certainly would not allow one of its playoff games to move to ESPN2.

Still, the NFL could sell a Monday night playoff game to another network. A media industry source suggested that the NFL could look into packaging the new wild-card playoff games with its “Thursday Night Football” package beginning with the 2016 season. CBS last week signed a deal to keep that package for 2015.

Right.  The WWL could just give up an incredibly valuable franchise without a fight.

That’s not all that’s at stake here for the WWL.

The CFP semifinals on New Year’s Day already proved their ability to attract viewers. The semifinals — played at the Allstate Sugar Bowl and the Rose Bowl presented by Northwestern Mutual — each drew more than 28 million viewers. At the time, they were the two most-viewed programs in cable TV history.

The CFP championship game on Jan. 12 averaged 33.4 million viewers, becoming the first show in cable TV history to top 30 million viewers. Privately, ESPN insiders say they are prepared for double-digit drops in viewership if the semifinals remain on New Year’s Eve.

Get ready to hear about CFP’s new, new tradition, which is really about the only tradition college football cherishes these days – keeping the checks rolling in.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, ESPN Is The Devil, The NFL Is Your Friend.

20 responses to ““We’ve started a new tradition and we don’t want to back away from it now.”

  1. Just take away one of the cupcakes and shorten the season by that week. It’s hard to drag my ass outta bed at 5am to make it to Athens for a noon kickoff against Directional Louisiana. Move the conference championship games up a week. Play the playoff games the next week. Something like that…I’m just looking for a reason to have one less crap home game at noon.



    The Easy thing is to move the Rose/Sugar to NYE when they don’t host a Semi…but that was ruled out when they brought this entire thing on board…Rose wouldn’t agree to move…Sugar held firm too.

    I’ll watch on NYE more than likely….

    Me, it’s the game on Monday for all the marbles that starts too late to me.


    • W Cobb Dawg

      “it’s the game on Monday for all the marbles that starts too late to me.”

      Agree 110% WTF is the championship game doing on a Monday night!? Got to be up there with one of the dumbest scheduling decisions of all time.


      • PTC DAWG

        Yep, the Monday that everyone is already back at work etc…stinks…and has stunk since they started the BCS Title game.


    • FarmerDawg

      I can’t understand why that game is not on Friday, high school football is over.


      • Alkaline

        Friday is where TV shows go to die–viewership is down because people have other things to do. They stuck it on Monday because people are generally at home and being lazy that night, and they want to pick up casual fans.


  3. PatinDC

    Ugh. These would be turrible changes to my viewing pleasure.


  4. mp

    I’m confused by why the semis were on New Year’s Day this year and scheduled for New Year’s Eve next. Is it because NYD is a Friday this year? I guess I don’t understand why the tradition wouldn’t be to have the semis on NYD as long as it’s not on a Sunday.


  5. Bright Idea

    ESPN will ultimately win out on this. If not for this New Year’s Eve but certainly the next.


  6. sniffer

    Do that many people watch the countdown shows? At 8 eastern? What am I missing? I’m guessing these programs would take the hit in missed viewers, not the CFP.


    • You’re thinking like a college football fan. ESPN’s thinking about the casual viewer who turns in to the semi-finals because of all the marketing hoopla – the same kind of folks who don’t follow men’s basketball until they fill out a March Madness bracket.


  7. reipar

    I hope ESPN wins out. I do not want the two play off games on NYE. They should be on NYD.


  8. Chipperdawg

    What they should address is expanding to at least 8 teams!


  9. It’s all about the three week old tradition! (It’s not about the money.)

    El Toro KaKa.


  10. Honestly, I’d like to see them go ahead and figure out the 8 team playoff and start that round somewhere in December.

    I hate to say it, but by the time bowl season rolls around, my general college football excitement has waned. Perhaps it is because every year seems like another let down for my Bulldogs, but I think some of it is the month gap between the last game of the season and the bowl games.