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.

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162 comments Add your comment


December 31st, 2010
10:12 am

Memo to Tyler Bray:

Making the slashing gesture across your throat after throwing a TD will get you in trouble.
You are getting away with it because all eyes are on the receiver but soon enough one of the zebras will see it and you will get a flag. Heck, it might even cost you a chance for a W like it did K State yesterday.


December 31st, 2010
10:21 am

Heck he might even get suspended for a terrorristic threat.

Lame name goes here

December 31st, 2010
10:30 am

@ mike. They move the college games


December 31st, 2010
10:41 am

Buckeye, “buggered up” is a perfectly good phrase meaning to ruin or spoil. It’s primarily a British expression, which is, after all, where our “English” originated. Where were you educated?


December 31st, 2010
10:50 am

DAWG MIKE, he said this is the last one for 2010. You see, the Sugar Bowl is played in 2011. Therefore, those predictions will be posted this week.

Samuel Johnson

December 31st, 2010
10:51 am

“buggered up” is akin to “shagged”, crude and vulgar deserving no place in civil conversation.


December 31st, 2010
10:53 am

Tony, it sounds like the voters had all the say in that 1984 national championship and not the New Year’s Day bowl games. I want a full 8 team playoff but the current BCS still beats the hell out of that crap. The thought of some pencil neck dweeb like Stewart Mandel having a say in who is the champion of the greatest effing sport in the history of the effing earth physically sickens me. Nice try though.


December 31st, 2010
11:00 am

Admit it, it’s all about $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$


December 31st, 2010
11:17 am

re: Tyler Bray

He’s going to be a good one….no doubt…but

after throwing the pick, he was kneeling on the sidelines….looked as if he had slashed his own throat.

Here’s hoping that Dooley reigns in his QB. One criticism that I’ve had of UT is that their QBs (since Manning and Tee Martin) have been the biggest prima donnas in the SEC.

Of course none could come close to Prince Pryor in Columbus.

Dooley the Vol

December 31st, 2010
11:35 am

destin dawg, face the facts uga is on a downward spiral, Dooley is gonna change the program in Ktown. The Fulmer cup now resides in Athens, matter of fact if uga can have another off season of arrests we should change it to the Richt Cup.


December 31st, 2010
11:47 am

it shows how bad the national media is when they feature tony on the cbs network.


December 31st, 2010
11:51 am

Is an Ohio State fan really coming on an SEC-flavored board to talk smack? Wonders never cease.

Happy New Year!


December 31st, 2010
11:59 am

Agree that New Year’s Day has lost its lustre. The big bowls have spread out too far past New Years, and some chump bowls have invaded the once-sacred ground. I used to enjoy watching eight games in one day, beginning at 11:00 AM and ending near midnight. Always looked forward to watching the Orange Bowl after the Rose. That said, I can’t remember a year when I’ve been less interested in bowl season. Other than the NC game, the matchups aren’t intriguing, and too many bad teams are playing, including my beloved Dawgs. Selah. Happy New Year, Tony!

Poetic Justice

December 31st, 2010
12:03 pm


Looks like the networks and the cable companies are fighting tooth and nail for their share of the CFB pie: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=132510114

As usual, the fans are the losers.

Sugg Id

December 31st, 2010
12:03 pm

The problem with that 4-team playoff is somebody like TCU is going to get in every year. It’s essentially a 3-team playoff with an automatic spot for Cinderella who’d have 3 or 4 losses, minimum, in any real conference. Go back to the way things were, or have a real playoff like D2, where there’s almost no chance a team like Boise or TCU makes in thru unless they really do have the goods.

Oconee Dawg

December 31st, 2010
12:07 pm

Dr. “Know It All” I totally agree on a 4 team playoff to determine the # 1 team in the land. Some team have been off for 3 or 4 weeks, not good.

Coach O

December 31st, 2010
12:11 pm

@Oconee Dawg

That’s why the bowl games were only intended to be exhibition games that didn’t affect the standings for the regular season. Nobody is going to play their best game a month after the season has ended.


December 31st, 2010
12:18 pm

See, even UGA XIII can’t “stomach” the Liberty Bowl!

Almost feels like Christmas morning….kick-off in three hours!

I’m hitting the doze button.

Dawg Tired

December 31st, 2010
12:22 pm

Tony – You are right about 1/2/84. I was at the Rose Bowl that day and saw the whipping UCLA put on the Illini. Before the game, I watched some of the UGA/Texas game on another fans TV outside his motor home. We went into the Rose Bowl, with the Texas leading UGA. I told my friend, a UCLA grad, “That game has Dooley’s signature all over it. Play good D and win in the fourth quarter.” How great it was for this Dawg that day when they announced the Georgia score over the PA system in Pasadena!

Oh. how I long for good defense, players with limited talent but who who play their guts out every play, and mistake free football.

Bo Jackson

December 31st, 2010
12:41 pm

Paul in RDU

December 31st, 2010
12:46 pm

In 2010 it has been pretty easy to predict Tony’s picks – homerism at its finest.

UGA, FSU, ND, Clemson, TT, PSU, ALA, Miss State, WI, OK all win


December 31st, 2010
12:53 pm

The BCS is stupid. Nearly all bowl games are unwatchable. bloggers are morons. fans are obnoxious. your team stinks. your best player cheated. why is it that we love college football again?

Paul in RDU

December 31st, 2010
12:56 pm

Mike @8:53
1/1/2006 was a Sunday. There was a full slate of NFL games that day. The major bowl games were the following day. UGA played in the Sugar Bowl on 1/2/2006.
Moral of the story – college football may be big but the NFL is much bigger.


December 31st, 2010
12:59 pm

Dooley the Vol didn’t our downward spiral beat that Vol Azz by what 40 ?

Paul in RDU

December 31st, 2010
1:05 pm

After watching the UT-UNC game last night I am never again going to complain about ACC or SEC refs. That Big 10 crew was clueless.


December 31st, 2010
1:08 pm

Why all the hatred towards AU? They have it in for us now no matter what we do. I may not root for UGA but I still respect their school and love the history of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. I would never wish probation, sanctions, vacated victories, the Death Penalty, etc. on UGA, much less any other institution. The history of our two schools are intertwined too, with Vince Dooley graduating from AU then coaching at UGA, Pat Dye graduating from UGA but coaching at AU, etc, etc, all the way down the line. I live in Athens but yet I have tons of friends and family who are UGA alums, almost as many if not more than AU alums. Let’s not let one game or one season spoil such a great and unique rivalry. War Eagle!

Reality Check

December 31st, 2010
1:15 pm

Well said Tiger Walk. As a UGA fan there is a lot of frustration with the Dawgs and our record the last two years. Seeing Auburn, Alabama or Florida play for the NC is tough to stomach and a lot of jealousy came out from Dawg fans. Good luck bringing the title back south. I would rather an SEC beat a left coast school any day.


December 31st, 2010
1:18 pm

Good point Paul. I love college football but the Pro game is bigger.

Does anyone think Rich Rod gets fired after the Gator Bowl tomorrow? His buyout decreases as of January 1. I believe the only way he gets fired is if the Michigan AD already has someone who will take the job. I don’t think that is the case though but we have been surprised before.

Good luck to everyone playing today and tomorrow.

Geaux Tigers!


December 31st, 2010
1:18 pm

Until this year our rivalry has always been intense but still somewhat friendly, minus a few crazies on both sides. I have never seen such hatred and anger directed towards one or two players and one program. Bringing up the past is a cop-out, we have all made mistakes in our lives . Second chances are part of life and like it or not Newton is making the most of his. I can’t sit here and say AU did nothing wrong because I don’t know for sure, but I believe in the power of redemption. You don’t have to root for Auburn and you don’t have to like Cam Newton. All I ask is that you show a little class & respect by stopping all the personal attacks on the AU family! Good luck today, look forward to many classic games to come. Nothing like a fall Saturday between the Hedges at Sanford or Jordan-Hare! War Eagle!!


December 31st, 2010
1:29 pm

TigerWalk agreed this years game brought out stuff better left alone. Here’s to a better 2011 and the continuation of the rivalry.

Paul in RDU

December 31st, 2010
1:33 pm

jumbeaux – I think that Rich Rod is toast at Michigan. First call will be to Jim Harbaugh and the secod call will be to Les Miles. I wouldn’t bet on either of them going to Michigan however.


December 31st, 2010
1:50 pm

Thanks Reality Check and how2fish. Good luck today. I think you guys will be back quicker than everyone thinks, next year sets up much better schedule-wise. We rode a favorable schedule this year, with most of our key games at home. Murray will be a great one, he just needs some experience in big-time games which he picked up this year. Wouldn’t be surprised to see UGA in the BCS NC within a few years, a couple plays can make the difference between 9 or 10 wins and 14-0. We had many close calls this year where the breaks finally went our way and we found a way to win. Good luck on finishing up today with another winning season and hope you guys are back near the top soon! Nothing better than meeting late in the season with both teams fighting for the SEC title! War Eagle!


December 31st, 2010
1:55 pm



December 31st, 2010
2:01 pm

HBCU Classics All-Americans

QB Matthew Johnson, Bethune**
QB Stanley Jennings, Albany St**
RB Walter Sanders, St. Augustine
RB DeAngelo Branche, Norfolk St
RB Frank Warren, Grambling – broke Walter Payton’s rushing records
WR Raymond Webber, UAPB
WR Ronnie Childs, Albany St
WR Lennel Elmore, SC State
OL David Mims, VA Union
OL Johnny Culbreath, SC State
OL Mike Mavromichalis, Albany St
OL Natiel Curry, Bethune
OL Josh Harrison, SC State



December 31st, 2010
2:02 pm

Please put meaning back into New Years Day. I have been lost since 1998. No reason to spend a day watching games that are played for entertainment value only. I am an old fart that wants to flip back and forth between the games as excitement builds. We even have the technology to really watch games simultaneously and gorge ourselves on football. Thank you AJC for the table of games because I would never expect to be watching a bowl game on January 10.

Fat Pye

December 31st, 2010
2:06 pm

Auburn might have rode out this championship season on the backs of two thugs who have no business being in an institution of higher education, but one of them was from Georgia, so the historical ties remain intact.

Waw Weagle!

Fat Pye

December 31st, 2010
2:10 pm


“Historically” black? Why not just plain “black”. Is it because other races are no longer allowed to engage in institutionalized racism?


December 31st, 2010
2:13 pm

@ Steve:

Good catch- that did not occur to me. TB will need something to write about


December 31st, 2010
3:15 pm

georgia sucks!


December 31st, 2010
3:18 pm

I think Bobby Bowden will make a great football coach at UGA. He’s used to coaching poor, suburban kids that get in a lot of trouble. hahahyaha goooooooodawgs!!!! good luck at making 7-6 dbags!

Uncle Curly

December 31st, 2010
4:30 pm

Does Ray Goff coach Clemson now? Oh, that is Dabo Sweeney…..same thing.

Mr. Park Ranger

December 31st, 2010
5:04 pm

Good come back Tigers…..now give Yogi, i mean Dabo, a contract extension and a raise. He needs the money to buy some more sweatshirts. Isn’t that what CU does? Give raises and extensions for no apparent reason?

Asheville Dawg

December 31st, 2010
5:15 pm

Poulon Weedeater Bowl was my favorite named bowl.

Coach O

December 31st, 2010
5:18 pm

Charlie Weis to Florida? Two questions:

1. Why would he want that job?

2. Why would Florida want Charlie Weis?


December 31st, 2010
6:51 pm

Way to represent uga. Mark Richt is pathetic. Worst coach/recruiter in the SEC by far.

5 stars equals 7 losses and 11 arrest

December 31st, 2010
7:19 pm



December 31st, 2010
7:29 pm



December 31st, 2010
7:44 pm

Tony.. why didnt you choose Jan 1, 1991 as your day to remember?


Coach O

December 31st, 2010
9:39 pm

You wish you had Ray Goff.