Lutz Blog

Bob Lutz: There’s a time to play football and there’s a time to dance

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer holds the championship trophy after his Buckeyes defeated Oregon in the College Football Playoff championship game on Jan. 1.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer holds the championship trophy after his Buckeyes defeated Oregon in the College Football Playoff championship game on Jan. 1.

How do you celebrate New Year’s Eve?

This year, we had our granddaughter over. We got some dinner and watched The Karate Kid on Netflix. I believe every man, woman and child in America should watch that movie and our granddaughter loved it.

We watched some other stuff on television, mostly kids programs, and then tuned in as Ryan Seacrest and his bunch counted down the final minutes of 2014. In other words, we par-tied.

I watched some football earlier in the day. But not that night because New Year’s Eve is for other things. When I was young, it was a time to get a little wild and a little crazy. As I enter my, um, golden years, not so much.

Next New Year’s Eve, though, I have a decision to make. And so do millions of Americans who reserve the right to celebrate on New Year’s Eve without concern that they’re missing a big football game.

Next New Year’s Eve, there will be two big football games to potentially miss. The two semifinals of the College Football Playoff are scheduled for New Year’s Eve, which comes on a Thursday. And seven of the next 10 CFP semifinals are scheduled for New Year’s Eve, although ESPN, according to The Sports Business Journal, is trying to convince CFP officials to move the next semis semifinals to Saturday, Jan. 2.

Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports has a great piece on this issue here. It seems silly to play these games on a day when so many other Americans have other priorities – like having a few cocktails, eating and dancing.

Football, no doubt, is an American obsession? I suppose there could be a new trend of New Year’s Eve parties that highlight football, while still including cocktails and food. But what about dancing? Who is going to stand up for dancing?

I am.

New Year’s Eve is a lousy day for football, especially for football of meaning. The first CFP semifinal games were played on a New Year’s Day, which is perfect. We want to sit around and do as little as we can on New Year’s Day because of all that dancing we’ve done on New Year’s Eve.

Television ratings for the semifinal games were through the roof: 15.5 for the Rose Bowl (Oregon-Florida State) and 15.3 for the Sugar Bowl (Ohio State-Alabama). That’s compared to just-OK ratings for the three games played on New Year’s Eve: Orange (5.0), Fiesta (4.6), Peach (3.4). Of course, the magnitude of the semifinal games has something to do with those ratings.

Only the Orange Bowl (Georgia Tech-Mississippi State) was played in prime time on New Year’s Eve.

College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock is resisting moving games.

“The fact is that we have started a new tradition of back-to-back tripleheaders on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day,” Hancock told The Sports Business Journal. “We’re not interested in changing one year, then returning for the next 10.”

How about this? How about never playing CFP semifinal games on New Year’s Eve. I appreciate football tradition, even those that are a whopping one-year old. But I also appreciate the tradition of New Year’s Eve in America, soon to enter its 2,016th year. It’s a pretty big deal to a lot of us, even if we’re staying home and watching a 30-year-old movie starring Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita and a young, vivacious looking Elisabeth Shue.

I realize American would curl up an die without football, but why can’t New Year’s Eve survive without it?

I’m going to have a really tough time convincing my granddaughter to watch football on New Year’s Eve. She, like so many others, would rather be dancing.