How the Calendar Could Save the New Year’s Six

College football played a losing hand on New Year’s Eve and lost.

clemson orange bowl
Anyone with a brain and a working knowledge of New Year’s Eve in this country knew that the college football playoffs would get slaughtered in the ratings. Yet the most remarkable aspect of this failure was the presence of a clear solution.

On Saturday, January 2, there was no NFL. There was an entire day for a nation to watch college football. They did, but they watched the Alamo Bowl* instead of the Orange Bowl. ESPN knew – they practically begged the college football leaders to move the playoffs back to Jan. 2 to no avail. The decision was stupid, but the rationale was stupider.

*How good were TV ratings on January 2?? The Gator Bowl had more viewers than the Peach Bowl. 

New Year’s Eve fell on a Thursday this year. Moving the semifinals to Saturday, Jan. 2, had been described as a “quirk” in the calendar. It is not a quirk. Thursday is a day of the week and New Year’s Eve has to fall on a day of the week. New Year’s Eve on a Thursday happens roughly every 6 years – how is that a quirk?

You see, by simply following the calendar – and not set cycles – the New Year’s Six bowls can maximize attention, keep the Rose and Sugar Bowls happy and stay true to current contracts. In fact, the New Year’s Six can play out the next TEN years and only play once on a non-holiday New Year’s Eve. I swear!

How? Let’s begin by going through the days of the week and what should happen:

The Set-Up

New Year’s Eve on Thursday (2020)
Play semifinals on Saturday, Jan. 2

This is the scenario we just lived through and let’s hope we never have to live through it again. Saturday, January 2, will be there and open by the time New Year’s Eve cycles back to a Thursday.

New Year’s Eve on Friday (2021)
Play semifinals on Friday, Dec. 31

Thanks to 2016 being a leap year, New Year’s Eve won’t fall on a Friday until the 2021 season. This is a disappointment since this is the only scenario where New Year’s Eve is an actual federal holiday.

New Year’s Eve on Saturday (2016, 2022)
Play semifinals on Saturday, Dec. 31

This happens for the 2016 season and it is not a problem. In fact, the only issue might be whether ESPN schedules the bigger game in the afternoon slot for maximum exposure. The night game will go against New Year’s parties on the East Coast, but is far less of an issue on a Saturday.

New Year’s Eve on Sunday (2017, 2023)
Play semifinals on Saturday, Dec. 30

This is the dream scenario! The NFL takes on New Year’s Eve, leaving Saturday, Dec. 30, wide open as a perfect day for the semifinals and no issue with leaving the other games on New Year’s Day.

Of course, since college football leaders are not smart, the 2017 season is one where the Rose and Sugar are slated to host the playoffs. Let me repeat – in a year where college football cannot play games on New Year’s Eve, the semifinals are scheduled for New Year’s Day. Changing the games for this date solves just about everything.

New Year’s Eve on Monday (2018)
Play semifinal on Monday, Dec. 31

Of all the weekday New Year’s Eve possibilities, Monday is the least objectionable since most will make it a four-day weekend. Still, it is not a legal holiday and would best to avoid if possible in the future.

New Year’s Eve on Tuesday (2019, 2024) or Wednesday (2025)
Play semifinals on Jan. 1

Simply put, this cannot happen. You think the ratings were bad this year? Wait until a playoff game starts at 4pm on a Tuesday. The same applies for a New Year’s Eve on a Wednesday. 
The Solution

College football has 10 years left on the current New Year’s Six contract and, despite the bad ratings in 2015, I can’t see anything changing until these 12 years are up. Sorry, folks, who want a 16-team playoff.

new years six 2017
To recap, the New Year’s Six schedule must keep the Rose & Sugar Bowls on New Year’s Day while giving every bowl 3 semifinal matchups in the next 9 years after 2016. As long as we skip the preset order of giving the Rose/Sugar matchups every three years, the schedule becomes much, much more palatable.

Here’s the new schedule, as 2016 does not change, with semifinal games in bold.

Saturday, Dec. 30: Peach, Orange, Cotton
Monday, Jan. 1: Fiesta, Rose, Sugar

Monday, Dec. 31: Cotton, Peach, Fiesta
Tuesday, Jan. 1: Orange, Rose, Sugar

Tuesday, Dec. 31: Cotton, Fiesta, Orange
Wednesday, Jan. 1: Peach, Rose, Sugar

Friday, Jan. 1: Peach, Rose, Sugar
Saturday, Jan. 2: Fiesta, Orange, Cotton

Friday, Dec. 31: Orange, Peach, Fiesta
Saturday, Jan 1: Cotton, Rose, Sugar

Saturday, Dec. 31: Fiesta, Orange, Cotton
Monday, Jan. 2: Peach, Rose, Sugar

Saturday, Dec. 30: Cotton, Peach, Fiesta
Monday, Jan. 1: Orange, Rose, Sugar

Monday, Dec. 31: Peach, Fiesta, Orange
Tuesday, Jan. 1: Cotton, Rose, Sugar

Tuesday, Dec. 31: Peach, Orange, Cotton
Wednesday, Jan. 1: Fiesta, Rose, Sugar

The Recap

With this schedule, the college football semifinals are played a grand total of one time on a non-holiday New Year’s Eve, in 2018.

Instead, the semifinals are played three times on New Year’s Day, three times on regular Saturdays (Dec. 30 or Jan. 2) and three times on holiday New Year’s Eve (Friday or Saturday).

In a perfect world, college football moves the semifinals to New Year’s Day permanently. But we do not live in a perfect world, so this is the next best thing.

Will those who run college football cut fans a break?

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  1. This would work, so it'll never happen.

    1. Totally agree, this is brilliant. Im stuck fighting with the wife every year instead.

  2. So the Rose/Sugar gets the semis in back-to-back years? And gets them only one more time before 2024?? That's the fly in the ointment I think

    1. Personally, I doubt the Rose Bowl cares too much about when they host. Ditto for the Sugar Bowl. They have great TV contracts.

      And for the other games, i think they would enjoy not having to face having their big semi kick off at 4pm on a Tuesday.

      Thanks for reading.

  3. Damn dude, I love this

  4. I think they should play the semifinals game on-campus in mid-December, so the title game is either the Rose Bowl or a rotating game on New Year's Night. Enough with this New Year's Eve bullshit.

  5. Someone make sure Bill Hancock reads this!!!

    1. I couldn't find an email for him, but I did tweet at his account. Seems like he might run it himself, so fingers crossed.

  6. This is a great idea.


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