Why New Year’s Day needs to matter again

New York–One of the things we lost with the advent of the BCS in 1998 was the magical quality about New Year’s Day for the college football fan. Before the BCS scattered the big games over several days, New Year’s Day was when everything got decided.

You would get up in the morning (some of us got up slower than others), watch a little of the parades to make your mother happy, and then settle in for a day and night full of football where multiple games could, and often did,  have a bearing on the eventual national champion.

Sure the system was flawed because No. 1 and No. 2 rarely met in a bowl game because of conference tie-ins. And when New Year’s Day was over there could be multiple teams with a claim on the national championship. But every now and then you got a day like Jan. 2, 1984 (Jan. 1 fell on a Sunday that year).

When we woke up that morning here were the Top Five in the Associated Press poll:

1. Nebraska

2. Texas

3. Auburn

4. Illinois

5. Miami

Here is how the day unfolded:

**–In the afternoon Georgia got a late turnover and John Lastinger scored the winning touchdown with 3:22 left to upset  No. 2 Texas 10-9. Texas was eliminated.

**–No. 3 Auburn got three field goals from Al Del Greco, the last one with 27 seconds left, to beat Michigan 9-7. Auburn felt like it was in the hunt for the national championship if No. 1 Nebraska lost that night in the Orange Bowl.

**–No. 4 Illinois just didn’t show up and got pounded by UCLA 45-9 in the Rose Bowl.

**–The day was capped off by the Orange Bowl, where Nebraska’s failed attempt at a two-point conversion gave No. 5 Miami the  historic 31-30 win.

The next day the voters in the two major polls elevated Miami from No. 5  to No. 1. Auburn finished No. 2 and was devastated.

The point is that on that day four different bowls (Rose, Sugar, Cotton, Orange) all had a say in who the national champion would eventually be.

In many ways it was better than what we have now, which is that everything is thrown into one game and the rest of the games are for entertainment purposes only.

Do I want to go back to that system? Nope. I want a four-team playoff where the semifinals are played on New Year’s Day. I believe the excitement created by two national semifinals on Jan. 1 would be the equivalent of the NFL’s conference championship Sunday. It would put the pop back into New Year’s Day, which is something I think the sport really needs.

Just for fun, here is what New Year’s Day would look like under a four-team playoff:

Sugar Bowl: No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 4 Stanford

Rose Bowl: No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 TCU

The winners would advance to the national championship game in the Fiesta Bowl, still on Jan. 10.

Wisconsin, at No. 5, would have the biggest gripe. But in any system somebody will have a gripe.

Just something to think about. Here is our Fearless Friday Forecast, the last for 2010:

1. Georgia vs. UCF (Liberty Bowl): A.J. Green goes out with a huge game but this will be a tough one for the Bulldogs. UCF is well coached by George O’Leary. Georgia 24, UCF 21.

2. South Carolina vs. Florida State (Chick-fil-A Bowl): Alshon Jeffrey and Stephen Garcia hook up for at least two big touchdown plays. South Carolina 31, Florida State 20.

3. Miami vs. Notre Dame (Sun Bowl): Miami has a interim coach and its players have gone through a lot of drama this year. The Hurricanes have more athletes but Notre Dame will find a way to win with defense. Notre Dame 28, Miami 21.

4. Clemson vs. South Florida (Meinke Car Care): A rested Kyle Parker finds his passing touch for Clemson while a talented defense keeps the Bulls in check. Clemson 27, South Florida 20.

5. Texas Tech vs. Northwestern (Ticket City): Tommy Tuberville already had a bad defense at Texas Tech. Then he fired his defensive coordinator, James Willis. Don’t think the Red Raiders can slow Northwestern down. Northwestern 34, Texas Tech 31.

6. Florida vs. Penn State (Outback Bowl): Gators win for a final time for Urban Meyer. Florida 24, Penn State 17.

7. Alabama vs. Michigan State (Capital One Bowl): Bama pounds the ball with Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. Alabama 24, Michigan State 10.

8. Mississippi State vs. Michigan (Gator Bowl): Michigan has the No. 108 defense in the nation. Rich Rodriguez coaches his last game for the Wolverines. Mississippi State 38, Michigan 31.

9. Wisconsin vs. TCU (Rose): TCU is fast and talented but Wisconsin is big and talented and strong. Badgers wear the Horned Frogs down in Pasadena. Wisconsin 27, TCU 17.

10. Oklahoma vs.  Connecticut (Fiesta Bowl): Oklahoma has struggled in this game in the past (losses to Boise State and West Virginia) but quarterback Landry Jones has a hot hand and way too many talented players around him. Oklahoma 34, Connecticut 17.

I’m back in New York today working for CBS and its coverage of the Sun Bowl. We’ll be providing scores and highlights throughout the day starting at 2 p.m. Please come visit if you can.

Please follow me on Twitter:

www.twitter.com/MrCFB

162 comments Add your comment

Buckeye

December 31st, 2010
8:24 am

Buckeye

December 31st, 2010
8:27 am

Innocent,

The 1990 Liberty Bowl Loss was a nail in John Cooper’s coffin. Eventually, top 5 programs fire non-producers so maybe there’s hope for your top 25 (oops, not this year), program.

Good luck today. Should be a ratings bonanza!

O and 19 but ripping ourthe hedges in 2020!

Steve

December 31st, 2010
8:32 am

Agree New Years Day isn’t what it used to be and may never be again. Bowl schedule is too strung out past Jan. 1 and too many 6-6 teams that aren’t entertaining to watch. Still, this is your last chance to see college football before the nine month hiatus and find myself hopelessly addicted to watching them all. Go figure.

Don’t see the Gators winning.

Russ, the Temporary Mascot, Part II

December 31st, 2010
8:41 am

I tell ya, I don’t get no respect !!

GaDawg1

December 31st, 2010
8:41 am

SimpleDawg

December 31st, 2010
8:43 am

Tressel sounds like a snake oil salesman……he keeps trying to make the rest of us think that the Suckeyes aren’t dirty. The deal to let the ineligible-eligible-ineligible players play is a sham. They said they’re coming back…….riiiggghhhttt.

And yes, they’ve buggered up New Years Day football.

ARdawg

December 31st, 2010
8:48 am

Barnhart is a Gomer

Frank Lane

December 31st, 2010
8:48 am

I watch at least 50% less football now that the bowl games are spread out. I am with you I want the principal action restored to New Year’s Day. Us Southern football fans are confused.

Mike

December 31st, 2010
8:53 am

What happens when new years day falls on a sunday and there are nfl games? Or are there nfl games? Will they start the nfl season a week earlier? I realize the lock out may hinder the season but I can’t remember what happens before when nyd falls on a sunday. cause the last games of the season are this sunday.

Buckeye

December 31st, 2010
8:54 am

Simple,

“buggered up”

Seriously? Was that a vocabulary word you learned in in remedial English at UGA?

Langley

December 31st, 2010
8:54 am

Please tell Bod Davie has the day off today and tomorrow?

Langley

December 31st, 2010
8:54 am

Please tell “me” … sorry.

Ted M

December 31st, 2010
8:57 am

The AJC’s sports TV listing is still showing Thursdays listing.

KR

December 31st, 2010
9:07 am

I miss the New Year’s Day bowls. Watching them was a great tradition. That being said, this Auburn fan has no positive feelings about the outcome of New Year’s Day, 1984.

JB

December 31st, 2010
9:10 am

This time next year will be a sad time in Athens. Bobo or Garner will coach a 7-5 Georgia team in a second tier bowl. We all love Mark……….But 4 years of mediocre results will be more than the season ticket holders, recruiting and contributions can stand. He knows that.

ATL is TigerTown

December 31st, 2010
9:13 am

To anyone with a “dawg” tag, everyone else is dirty. Funny how a 6 and 6 season can turn otherwise reasonable, thoughtful people into vindictive, ill tempered, moronic, raving lunatics. How sad for you that a game would turn your pathetic little life into a mere existance. Cheer up. Maybe you’ll win your little bowl game today and your life will once again include a little sunshine. War Eagle and Happy New Year, everybody.

JB

December 31st, 2010
9:14 am

Who’s the new Michigan coach gonna be?

JB

December 31st, 2010
9:15 am

Good Luck Auburn……. How about that for class?

3rdN8

December 31st, 2010
9:15 am

media darlings

What happened to Auburn in ‘84 was just that. The “U” was getting big press at the time, and Costas and the like were all enchanted with thuggery…..ain’t so enchanting now, is it Bob?

I’m a Bama fan, but that Auburn team was maybe the best coached football team I’ve ever seen….the Tigers got hosed.

dougmo2

December 31st, 2010
9:16 am

Screw the bowls, let’s get a playoff system in place

how2fish

December 31st, 2010
9:16 am

Buckeye go ahead come to Athens tear up the hedges…and watch us return the favor by burning Columbus to the ground the next year….welcome to the SEC..lol and happy new year to you and all the Buckeye fans..

dougmo2

December 31st, 2010
9:18 am

BTW “buggered up” is a British saying. It is a correct use of the term.

TONE

December 31st, 2010
9:21 am

So if a Good player promises to come back and not jump to the nfl he gets to finish the year and take the suspension next year . wow between this being allowed and letting players family members pimp them for money and no trouble coming from it it seems like the ncaa is the real mob is the game.
I think i will try to find televised cricket from now on.

Doug

December 31st, 2010
9:22 am

I heard that Tony is gonna get tow up from the flo up tonight in the big apple.

3rdN8

December 31st, 2010
9:22 am

is it “buggered”, or “boogered”? One refers to copulation, the other to something in your nose….never can keep the two straight.

Innocent Bystander

December 31st, 2010
9:23 am

Buckeye,

I’m not a Georgia fan, but I’m damned sure not a State fan either. I don’t think you guys can hang with the Hogs. The only reason the Big 10 has ever won any bowl games against the SEC is because your best teams tend to play our middle-tier teams in post-season play. OSU can’t even beat our mid-tier teams.

Tony, I ain’t watching you guys today. Sorry.

I’m not saying it’s your fault personally, but TV, the NFL, and the corrupt NCAA has sold college football down the river. All of the traditions that made CFB special have been traded in for the almighty Dollar. The season ends on January 1. Dreaming up some BS playoff scheme ain’t gonna “save” what’s already been lost. It’s only gonna get worse.

My New Year’s resolution is to consider myself a recovering CFB fan. I just never cared that much for professional sports.

greg

December 31st, 2010
9:24 am

buggered? i am embarassed as a ga fan

3rdN8

December 31st, 2010
9:30 am

@ Innocent Bystander

I posted yesterday that CFB was rapidly becoming an NFL developental league. I don’t blame Barnhart, and guys like him for that. But the NFL sentiment is alive and well with many broadcasters and analysts.

I really like Gary Danielson as a color commentator…think he is one of the brightest in the business. But I do wish he would tone down the way he assesses teams….by how many first rounders are on the roster.

I’m not sure it matteres anyway. Pretty soon a law suit will determine that a high school kid has the right to go pro….ala the NBA. Then you’ll see another radical change in CFB.

Uncle Curly

December 31st, 2010
9:31 am

let’s go back to how it usedto be Tony. i have no problem with the old system. Split polls? who cares. Colorado’s cahmpionship was good enough for their fans and GT’s was good enough for their fans…no problem.I love college football since my Dad walked me into Sanford stadium at 5 yrs old and Jake Scott, Mike Cavan and Bill Stanfil had there way with Tech. I love the dawgs but i love college football in general. But what i don’t like is the BCS and most of all the NCAA. i believe an attempt was made on the NCAA about 30 years ago now and failed mainly because of ND. it’s time…Get rid of those incompetant idiots….got plenty of good reasons now….Vince, somebody….lets through those friggin’ chumps out on their useless rule book.

Uncle Curly

December 31st, 2010
9:32 am

Dean

December 31st, 2010
9:32 am

Your all losers! Especially those that cast stones at others because of the school they root for.

3rdN8

December 31st, 2010
9:33 am

re: my earlier post

I can keep straight the difference between copulation and stuff in your nose….it’s the words…..

nevermind

CrimsonInSuwanee

December 31st, 2010
9:34 am

Let’s trash the whole thing and go back to the way it was. There will always be disappointments and perceived injustices, but we still have those now. And your playoff scheme (and everyone else’s) would still have them.

And while we’re trashing, let’s get rid of Instant Replay Reviews. They waste time, but most importantly, they encourage sloppy officiating (yes…SEC officiating can get even worse!). But wait…we could institute a second review team in the opposite end of the pressbox to review the review. They could utilize Virtual Reality visors, 3-D technology, and an Artificial Intelligence technology with ESP algorithms to read the players’ minds. That would be great!

Langley

December 31st, 2010
9:35 am

Bring back the Blue Bonnett Bowl and the Tangerine Bowl.

Dick the Weasel

December 31st, 2010
9:35 am

Your playoff has two pac 10 teams that didn’t play a conference championship game, one dint even win its conference. That’s a joke, theold bowl tie ins were better than that. And better than what we’ve got.

Innocent Bystander

December 31st, 2010
9:36 am

@3rdN8

If these kids who have no interest in an education and consider themselves “enslaved” for having to play for their alma mater without pay could just skip directly to the NFL, then it might be possible to save college football. Otherwise, it’s a lost cause.

3rdN8

December 31st, 2010
9:38 am

Dean

I never cast stones at people rooting for their schools…wouldn’t be much fun if we all pulled for the same one.

But I do miss the old “where can you buy crotchless panties for sheep?” jokes….you can fill in the school name.

“Fredericks of A____n.”

Old School

December 31st, 2010
9:41 am

Pretty good picks Tony but I’m thinking TCU gets it done against the Badgers.

BTW, what did you think of the call against K State yesterday? Then the Tennessee receiver did a dance and saluted twice last night and didn’t get called.

Dawg_Mike

December 31st, 2010
9:42 am

Tony,

You been dipping in the New Year’s punchbowl early this morning?

No prediction for the Sugar Bowl ?

I say the Hogs by 2 TD’s

How does Michigan score 31 points on the MSU stingy D ?

The U by 2 TD’s

FSU has SPEED and the dome is built for it. USCe didnt look all that speedy back on Dec 4….

OK scores in the 50’s

GA scores in the 40’s

FL scores in the 40’s

MICH ST scores more than 10 against a team that doesn’t want to be there.

check back in on Monday for fun.

Forrest Gump

December 31st, 2010
9:43 am

Welcome back, Russ. That’s Adams gratitude for you. They paint your buttocks, then drum you out in a humiliating ceremony, then pretend nothing happened when their chosen one flakes out. You know what to do if Adams gets close to you on national tv.

Dawg_Mike

December 31st, 2010
9:44 am

OH, and no pick for the Orange Bowl ?

VT by 3

Dawg_Mike

December 31st, 2010
9:46 am

Nice gagging there Tennessee.
What an epic meltdown – fueled by number 15 launching himself into the air to make a tackle. If memory serves, He was one of the thugs arrested for robbery during the Lane Kiffin dynasty. His accomplice, NuKeese Richardson is still MIA….

Innocent Bystander

December 31st, 2010
9:53 am

@Uncle Curly

I agree with you regarding split titles. Who cares? It’s only a game. It’s not like we’re electing the President or something. Although, come to think of it, we’re not very good at getting that right anymore either. Money spoils everything eventually.

Dana

December 31st, 2010
9:55 am

Tony,
I love the idea of the Jan 1 bowl games as the semifinals!!! When will it happen??

destin dawg

December 31st, 2010
9:58 am

No matter who your favorite college FB team is, EVERBODY loves to see the Tenn. thugs ( in ugly Orange )… lose !!!!!

destin dawg

December 31st, 2010
9:59 am

EVERYBODY LOVES to see the TENN, THUGS LOSE !!!!

Mike

December 31st, 2010
10:02 am

If UGA loses today will they blame Nick Fairley?

jsmuga

December 31st, 2010
10:04 am

Only 1 bowl game matters the National Championship Game.

destin dawg

December 31st, 2010
10:05 am

Fairley is a good but dirty player.. did Allbarn coach that ??? NFL won’t allow those late hits on QB’s !!!

Denver Dog

December 31st, 2010
10:10 am

We need some journalist to investigate this stuff, not talk about how great it was/is. I’m tired of hearing about the corruption. Let’s all do something. Don’t watch the BCS Championship Game, or any of the others for that matter. This Auburn/OSU/ everyone else thing is just the tip of the iceberg. One guy gets a $250,00.00 check to his dad and plays all year. Some guys go to a party and are kicked off for the whole season. Makes sense doesn’t it? It is all about the $$$$$