Bowl season has all but come and gone, and Year 2 of the Playoff Era exposed a worrying crack in the new system. As many of us had anticipated when the New Year's Six bowl rotation was announced, the placement of playoff semifinal bowls on New Year's Eve, rather than New Year's Day, was wildly unpopular. Viewership dropped dramatically from 2014's wildly successful debut.
Admittedly, the games themselves contributed to this - while 2014 featured a thrilling Ohio State comeback in the Sugar Bowl and the not-especially-close-but-exceedingly fun pantsing of long-undefeated Florida State in the Rose, this year's semifinals were both blowouts. Still, a large factor in the dropping viewership was the date; while January 1st is a national holiday, many people were still at work when the Orange Bowl kicked off at 4pm EST, and many were off to New Year's Eve revelry before the 8pm Cotton Bowl ended.
Well, so why hold playoff semifinals on New Year's Eve? As you may well be aware, the necessity comes from the playoff committee's desire to keep the "New Year's Six" on those two dates, but the Rose and Sugar Bowl's steadfast resistance to rotating away from their traditional January 1st slots in years when they aren't semifinals.
Now, Jason Kirk has already proposed a simple, logical and elegant solution to this problem: shift the New Year's Six a day forward, so semifinals are always on the 1st or 2nd of January.
Well, yes. That would work. I'm not about simple or logical solutions, though, and I'm certain not elegant. Neither are the powers that be in college football. Instead, I've got a needlessly circuitous solution, borrowed from America's greatest sporting innovator: Allan H. "Bud" Selig!
Oh, gosh, that's an unflattering image. Wait, here's a better image, showing him as the debonair genius we all know and love:
Anyways, Selig fixed baseball, once considered a boring and arcane sport with declining interest to young athletes, by instituting the "This One Counts" policy. In this system, home-field advantage for the World Series would be determined by the outcome of the formerly-meaningless All-Star Game. Does it make any sense? Not really! Do people like it! I dunno, kinda?
So how does this solve our problem? Simple! We let the Rose Bowl be on New Year's Day, all precious and pretty and dripping in tradition. The Sugar can do the same. We just don't guarantee either a role as a New Year's Six Bowl. They can be on New Year's Day, sure, but they'll displace the Outback and Citrus Bowls.
In their stead, we award the site of each year's New Year's Six to the six most-compelling bowl games of the previous year! You know how your annoying coworker tries to tell you that bowl games are "meaningless"? WELL GUESS WHAT, KEVIN. Now they all count!
"But won't this hurt the Rose and Sugar Bowl?"
a) I don't care
b) not really! Those bowls resonate because of regional ties, and they don't really need to be the "best" teams. Pick outside the New Year's Six and tell me that everyone wouldn't have been perfectly fine with a Michigan-Oregon Rose Bowl and a Florida-TCU Sugar Bowl! Casual fans won't know the difference.
"So how do we determine the 'most compelling' bowls?"
Great question. We've assembled a completely unaccountable committee of me and my dog. Say hi, Holly!
Holly and I selected the six games that were the most fun, close or interesting for one reason or another, and if you disagree with our selections, please see yourself over to the Art Briles Indignation Couch.
Great! So what's this New New Year's Six look like?
Glad you asked. We're using this year's results to select the bowls, but also this year's New Year's Six to illustrate the matchups. It's messy, but it'll work for now, just like using sloppy image-hosting practices.
Pinstripe Bowl: Duke 44, Indiana 41 (OT)
Arizona Bowl: Nevada 28, Colorado State 23
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Akron 23, Utah State 21
Note: this wasn't really that good a game, but it did feature a just-came-up-short late rally by USU and I'm inexplicably deeply fond of the Zips. Unaccountable, remember.
Camellia Bowl: Appalachian State 31, Ohio 29
Popeye's Bahamas Bowl: Western Michigan 45, Middle Tennessee 31
The SBNation Style Guide required me to select this regardless of game result. Popeye's is terrific.
Alamo Bowl: TCU 47, Oregon 41 (3OT)
Probably the single-best bowl game, especially if you're into Gary Patterson costume changes.
Now, the new matchups!
Iowa vs. Stanford - Bronx, NY: Jim Delany has to feel good about a home game in B1G territory.
Ohio State vs. Notre Dame - Boise, ID: see, we're sending these two fanbases to Idaho. This is great already. I'm great at my job.
Oklahoma State vs. Ole Miss - San Antonio, TX: This is fine.
Florida State vs. Houston - Montgomery, AL: It's a shorter drive for both teams! Look, we're going green.
And the semifinals!
Alabama vs. Michigan State: Tucson, AZ: Because Sparty's bones will bleach so much cleaner in the desert air!
Clemson vs. Oklahoma: Nassau, Bahamas: Oranges are for elementary-school soccer games. If you get a #1 overall ranking, you deserve some fried chicken and red beans with rice.
So, great, this is all terrific, now we just need to locate a site for the College Football Playoff Championship Game. Sure, we could keep it in (googles) Glendale, I knew that, but I'm mad with power now!
We need one more great game, a bowl game this year that maybe featured record-high scoring, a furious last-minute comeback attempt, and perhaps even a smear of historical relevance!
Independence Bowl: Virginia Tech 55, Tulsa 52
Oh hell yeah. Was this whole thing an elaborate justification for suggesting we move the title game to Shreveport?
My whole blogging career has been an elaborate plan to suggest moving the title game to Shreveport.
In conclusion: fire Action Cookbook.