College Football Playoff Will Avoid New Year’s Eve Game Starting in 2018

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By George Schroeder

After intense opposition and declining television ratings, the College Football Playoff has discontinued its attempt to create a new tradition on New Year’s Eve.

Playoff executive director Bill Hancock told USA TODAY Sports the event’s management committee has decided to change the dates of the Playoff semifinals in four of seven years when those games were scheduled for Dec. 31. They now will instead be played on the preceding Saturday. The other three years, New Year’s Day falls on Saturday or is designated a Federal holiday.

“We looked at the replay,” Hancock said, “and we reversed the call.”

When the Playoff schedule was first set, Hancock spoke of “changing the paradigm” of American culture, with the idea that college football could become as much a part of New Year’s Eve as watching the ball drop in New York’s Times Square. But TV ratings for the last year’s semifinals, played on New Year’s Eve (a Thursday) dropped 40% from the 2014 semifinals, which were played on New Year’s Day.

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