Big-Time College Football Playoffs Are Finally Here

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The first games in the new era of college football playoffs will be played today.

Oregon meets Florida State in the first semifinal today at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The other contest matches Alabama and Ohio State. The winners of those two games will play for the national title on January 12.

The new system is really not all that different from the old system, college football analyst John Bacon tells Here & Now's Peter O'Dowd.

The old system narrowed the field down to two teams who played for the championship. The new system selects four teams, so just like in the past, teams on the outside looking in are not happy.

But despite complaints from jilted Baylor and Texas Christian University, Bacon thinks the committee "did a very good job" selecting the top four teams, adding that "any one of the four teams actually can win this — there's no misfit here."

The selections are also advantageous "from a ratings standpoint," Bacon says. "TV loves this: you've got Alabama of course in the Deep South, you've got Florida State not too far away but Ohio State to hold onto the Midwest and you've got obviously Oregon in the West. It's a great deal for TV."

According to Bacon, television ratings are becoming increasingly important as in-person attendance at bowl games declines.

"The cameras never even show the crowds at most of these games until they punt the ball, and they can't avoid [it] because the ball is so high. It is very, very sparse," he explains. "But the TV ratings are up, averaging about a million per game so far. And that's really all they care about."


This segment aired on January 1, 2015.


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