Suddenly I’m seeing problematic parallels between the PGA Tour and college football. In the case of college football, I find myself supporting the same side as… ESPN.
Last year — the first year of top-tier college football playoffs — the semi-finals were played on New Year’s Day. College football’s greatest day was suddenly back to January 1. A restored tradition! Multiple generations saw for the first time how wonderful was the combination of New Year’s Day and college football.
The ratings were sensational. January 1 and the college football semi-finals was a match made in Heaven.
So of course the college football powers changed things.
Don’t blame ESPN. They saw the problem coming a year ago. They pleaded with college football to play the semi-finals on January 1. Impossible, they were told. The Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl refused to budge from January 1, so, since those bowls were not hosting the semi-finals this year (they did last year), the semi-finals would have to be played on New Year’s Eve.
Now, my solution to this impasse would have been, Fine, so we’ll play the semi-finals opposite the Rose and Sugar Bowls. Good luck with your ratings with Mississippi and Iowa instead of Alabama and Michigan State. But, alas, ESPN has the rights to all the games, and is not about to undercut their total viewership in this manner.
Look at the numbers: Last year’s semis drew 15.5 and 15.3; this year, 9.9 and 9.7.
Then there is the total number of bowl games. There are 41 (counting the playoff finals). Three bowl teams had losing 5-7 records. That’s too much of a good (semi-good? bad?) thing. More is not always better.
More is not always better? That makes me think of golf. For instance, the PGA Tour’s fall “playoffs” have a direct link to weaker fields at the West Coast Tour stops. Like the college football powers, the PGA Tour refuses to address, or even admit, the problem.
We need more people to point out how decisions have been made to enrich a handful of people at the expense of their competitors and the public. Only by shining a light on the self-interested subterfuge can we rectify the problems.
Big college football games on January 1 and strong-field golf tournaments in January and February are traditions which should be restored and cherished.
By the way, the Rose Bowl was not exactly rewarded for its arrogant attitude. This year’s game drew a paltry 7.9 rating, the worst in 33 years, perhaps ever, as Football Bowl Association records only go back that far.