By just about any measure, the first College Football Playoff was a success. Both the semifinals, which were viewed by 28 million, and the championship (33 million) set all-time records for a program on cable television.
But before the before we close the book on the 2014 season and start looking ahead to Spring practice, here are five burning questions about the future of the CFP:
1) The numbers were great for this year’s semifinals (Rose, Sugar) on Jan. 1. But what about next season when the semis (Cotton, Orange) will be on Dec. 31?
Keeping the semifinals on Jan. 1 was not an option for the CFP because the Rose (5 p.m. ET) and Sugar (8:30 p.m.) are fixed and are not going to move. CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock told me that his group believes that fans will treat New Year’s Day as a two-day holiday instead of one. “Whoever hosts a New Year’s Eve party now has to have a bunch of TVs,” said Hancock. “We think the fans will embrace it (having semifinals on New Year’s Eve.)”
2) Any major tweaks for next season?
One of the problems the BCS had, said Hancock and others, is that every time an unforeseen problem arose, there were immediate changes. The CFP wants to let this thing breathe for several years before even trying to modify it. Hancock said there may be fewer meetings of the selection committee and thus fewer rankings released. There were seven last season. That would be a natural change because the college football calendar is one Saturday shorter (14 instead of 15) next season. Look for the committee to meet five or six times.
3) What is the Big 12 going to do?
The Big 12 was the Power Five conference that got left out and a big reason why was the absence of a 13th, or conference championship game. But TCU coach Gary Patterson told a group of us in Dallas that he really didn’t see his conference overreacting to the disappointment by adding two teams to get to 12. “You really have to look at something like this for several years and see how it plays out,” said Patterson, whose 12-1 team looked as good as anybody after beating Ole Miss 42-3 in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
The fact is that if TCU had not blown a 21-point fourth-quarter lead to Baylor and finished 12-0 the Horned Frogs, not Ohio State, would have been in the playoff. How’s that for irony?
4) Any changes on the selection committee next season?
West Virginia AD Oliver Luck is moving on because of his new position with the NCAA. He will likely be replaced by a sitting AD from the Big 12. Archie Manning told reporters that, after sitting out this season with health issues, he hopes to return in 2015 but has not made a final decision. The committee will have a new chairman as Jeff Long of Arkansas completes his term.
5) What about the future sites for the CFP Championship?
Next season’s semifinals will be in the Orange and Cotton Bowls on Dec. 31. The championship game will be in Glendale, Ariz. on Jan. 11, 2016.
The semifinals for the 2016 season will be the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 31. The championship will be at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium on Jan. 9, 2017.
The bid process for the national championship game will begin in February with three new sites scheduled to be awarded in September. Hancock said he expects somewhere between 8-12 cities to submit bids. Armed with a new stadium that will be completed in 2017, The Atlanta Sports Council and the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl will bid for the championship game of January 8, 2018.
Eight cities that have already shown interest were represented in Dallas: Atlanta, Charlotte, Indianapolis, Houston, Jacksonville, Minneapolis, Orlando, and San Antonio.