Delany does not see Rose Bowl move to accommodate playoffs
CHICAGO (AP) — Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany does not envision the Rose Bowl abandoning its New Year’s Day spot in order to accommodate the College Football Playoff semifinals.
He said there might be “some movement from the bowls” but not by the Granddaddy of Them All.
“I realize the challenge,” Delany said Tuesday at Big Ten Media Days. “There may be changes in the offing, but I wouldn’t expect those changes to impact the Rose Bowl.”
The College Football Playoff is considering moving future semifinals off New Year’s Eve after ratings for last season’s games dropped in a big way. Playoff Executive Director Bill Hancock told reporters two weeks ago at the SEC Media Days that the commissioners who comprise the playoff management committee are open to adjusting future schedules .
“We have some good options,” he said, adding they are “getting close” to a resolution.
ESPN drew record ratings for the inaugural playoff following the 2014 season, starting with the Rose Bowl that kicked off around 5:30 p.m. ET.
But the semifinal ratings fell 36 percent last season, the first of eight times during a 12-year contract with the network that places the semis on New Year’s Eve. Many people were still at work last December when the Orange Bowl between Oklahoma and Clemson started at 4:30 p.m. ET.
“One option could be finding a different day for the semifinals when they’re not played in the Rose and Sugar Bowls, which our research so far has shown us that that’s doable,” Hancock said.
It probably didn’t help the ratings last season that neither Clemson-Oklahoma nor the Michigan State-Alabama matchup in the Cotton Bowl were close in the fourth quarter. Plus, there was more star power the year before with a pair of Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks in Marcus Mariota of Oregon and Jameis Winston of Florida State going at it in one semifinal and Ohio State colliding with Alabama in the other one.
This season, the semifinals are again on New Year’s Eve, but it falls on a Saturday. Next year, they will be played on New Year’s Day.
But move the Rose? Don’t count on it, and the same goes for the Sugar Bowl.
“I don’t see it happening,” Hancock said. “We’ve been studying since February the matter of whether New Year’s Eve on a weekday is the best day for the semifinals. And considering all that, I don’t see it changing the Rose Bowl.”
Separately, Delany said he doesn’t foresee the Big Ten instituting rules restricting transfer athletes who have a history of serious misconduct from joining a team or receiving athletic aid, as the SEC, Pac-12 and Big 12 did.
The transfer bans instituted in recent years come in the wake of some high-profile incidents and an increasing awareness of sexual assault and domestic violence. But the Big Ten’s position at least for now is that the individual schools are in the best position to address those decisions.
Delany said that stance comes after “really deep discussions” with conference presidents, athletic directors, faculty and lawyers as well as experts on the Clery Act requiring colleges to keep and disclose information about crime on or near campus.
“To think that you can pass a four- or five-sentence — or four- or five-paragraph — conference rule to accommodate all that I think is putting a lot of faith in conference policies,” Delany said.
Yet, other major conferences are doing just that.
“Let’s look at it five years from now and see how effective it is,” said Delany, who added: “We can learn from each other the best practices.”