CFP responsible for its own delay

College football’s championship game between Clemson and LSU kicks off Monday night — 15 days since they won their respective semifinals — and that break was probably good for the teams’ health, just as the Monday night timeslot should be good for ratings.

Still, a two-week plus break was not the real plan. It’s partly a result of TV’s power and a little bit more the result of some bullheadedness and poor planning.

When the College Football Playoff first kicked into gear, the folks in charge were determined to make New Year’s Eve the standing date for the semifinals with the championship game a week or so later on a Monday.

After all, Monday nights serve as a home of football games (both NFL and college) from late August until the end of the season.

Plus, a Monday night keeps the championship game away from weekend NFL playoff games.

So that approach makes sense.

The longer delay this year, though, happened after the folks in charge determined that New Year’s Eve timing actually hurt viewership. So, semifinal games were moved to Saturdays (that was Dec. 28 in this year’s cycle), and that would have meant a championship game last Monday.

But by the time the New Year’s Eve semifinal experiment fizzled (a couple of years into the process), it was too late for the Superdome in New Orleans to be booked for last Monday. The city had been confirmed as the host, but the championship game could not get into the stadium until Monday night, Jan. 13.

Going forward, the break between semifinals and championship game will be just a week.

Seeing Steelers

The Steelers missing the playoffs for the second season in a row will probably turn out to be good news for hard-core black and gold fans who are HBO subscribers.

That’s because the Steelers are eligible to be the team featured in Hard Knocks next season.

(Forced by the league might be another way of wording it, but it’s all the same.) The popular show follows one NFL team through training camp each season. This season will be the 15th for the HBO and NFL Films series.

Teams that have not been on the show, have missed the playoffs two years in a row and do not have a first-year coach are at the top of the list to be featured. The Steelers check all those boxes.

With Mike Tomlin’s matter-of-fact approach, the expected return of Ben Roethlisberger, challenges on the offensive line, an aging defense, as well as a committed fan base and the traditional backdrop of St. Vincent College, the Steelers provide many potential storylines.

Plus, it’s rare that the Steelers are eligible. So expect HBO to make the official announcement (late spring) that it’s focusing on the Steelers.

If it does not happen, because many teams consider the show a distraction, then the Rooney family will deserve hefty kudos for somehow working behind the scenes to get another team selected.

Others eligible are the Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars. All are less appealing than the Steelers.

Tuner tidbits

n Broadcast assignments for this afternoon’s NFL playoff games have Jim Nantz/Tony Romo working the Texans-Chiefs game (3:05 p.m., CBS) and Joe Buck/Troy Aikman on the Seahawks-Packers matchup (6:40 p.m., Fox). While many rave about Romo, he talks too much with too little substance. The Buck/Aikman team, which also will have the Super Bowl on Fox, ranks as the best in the business for me. And their behind-the-scenes director/producer team, including Penn State alumnus Rich Russo, does a stellar job of getting the right images at the right time.

n In the ever-growing, made-for-TV world, MLB Network will present coverage of the Baseball Hall of Fame election announcement on Jan. 21. Expect extensive behind-the-scenes access of Derek Jeter getting word that he’s been elected. It will be interesting to see if anyone else gets joins him. If nothing else, it will be another opportunity for Jeter, who thrived in the bright lights of New York City, to get ample (and deserved) attention.

n Tickets for a single-day package for inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame next August (which could include former Steelers safety Troy Polamalu among a record group of 20 inductees) list for $289 online. Sure, the NFL and its events team do great work, but that’s excessive — making such events inaccessible for many fans.

Sampsell comments on the broadcast media for the Mirror. He can be reached at stevesampsell@gmail.com.


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