Rankman took a break from ark building in advance of El Nino to recap a 40-game bowl season that seemed to last 40 days and 40 nights.
A few observations from the flight deck:
Rankman watched all, or parts, of 40 bowl games over the course of the holiday season and then checked himself into a medical facility loosely named after a low-polling Republican in the presidential race: “Rick’s Sanatorium.”
The bottom line is the second year of the College Football Playoff, compared to the first, tanked. Ratings were down 13% for the New Year’s Six games and the semifinals drew 12.5 million fewer viewers than last year.
This is probably what you should expect for starting the first national semi game at 1 p.m on a work-day Thursday in Los Angeles. Had officials held off three hours they could have caught the early-bird senior crowd at IHOP.
Here’s the funny part: everybody said this would happen, and it did. Rankman and others predicted the first year of the playoff, which drew record ratings, was likely beginner’s luck. College football saved its best for first by giving the inaugural semifinals to the Jan.1 Rose and Sugar bowls.
Officials insisted on messing with the paradigm in the six-bowl rotation by, every two out of three years, moving the semifinals to New Year’s Eve.
Dick Clark would have called this “dropping the ball.”
ESPN begged to get the package moved to Jan.2 but conference commissioners are nothing if not stubborn. The result was a back fire louder than Granddaddy’s old jalopy. The Dec. 31 semifinals failed to register and also diminished the hallowed games of Jan.1. Rose Bowl drew a paltry 7.9 rating and took the Sugar Bowl down with it.
Blowout results contributed to the decline, but it was also smart people thinking they know more than everyone else. Playoff executive director Bill Hancock, a preposterously nice person who could put positive spin on an invasion of locust, told the Associated Press the ratings decline was “not much of a surprise and it’s modest.”
Hancock is also rumored to have described the 1929 Stock Market crash as a “correction.”
Our nicest, bottom-line assessment of this year’s post-season: underwhelming. Too many of the big games just didn’t measure up. The Rose Bowl was over before the last plop of horse poop was cleaned up after the parade.
Rankman ended up 22-18 in his final picks, which he thought was also Wilbur Wood’s record with the Chicago White Sox in 1973. Wood actually went 24-20 that year.
Rankman would have been 24-16 had the Pac 12 not botched the final two games on Jan. 2. This allowed the Southeastern Conference to claim supremacy (again) with an 8-2 final bowl mark.
The Pac 12 could have matched that record if not for closing collapses by Oregon and Arizona State. The conference, once again, failed to finish.
Oregon blew a 31-0 lead in the Alamo Bowl against Texas Christian while Arizona State, despite having the home, prickly-needle advantage in the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl, let West Virginia escape with a one-point win.
Motel 6 left the light on for ASU and West Virginia turned it off.
Oregon’s defeat will resonate for months, if not years. Rankman has never seen a team more dependent on one player. Maybe Cam Newton at Auburn in 2010?
Oregon was a playoff-worthy team with Adams in the lineup, yet helpless without him.
The Ducks had a four touchdown lead when Adams was forced out of the game, late in the first half, with an apparent concussion. Rankman immediately announced TCU was back in the game.
TCU roared back to win, in triple overtime, led by backup quarterback Bram Kohlhausen. He ended up having a game he’ll never forget while Adams, if he’s lucky, will end up with a game he’ll never remember.
Despite Adams’ injury, blowing that 31-0 lead was inexcusable. It never would have happened with Chip Kelly as head coach and Nick Aliotti as defensive coordinator. It did happen, though, with Mark Helfrich as head coach and Don Pellum as defensive coordinator.
Yes, Oregon had a lot of key players injured, but TCU was playing without half its intended starters.
“Everybody wants to point the finger at one guy,” Helfrich said after the game. “Point it at me. Blame me.”
No one tried to interrupt him.
The Good Ship Rankman now sails to Arizona this week where he will chronicle the national title game between Clemson and Alabama. It’s being billed as “Grits vs. Gravy.” What a shock, a team from the South is going to win it all.
The game won’t move the needle much out west, but it represents college football’s last chance to salvage a post season that was hardly a ratings bonanza.
In fact, you could say it sort of went up in Gun Smoke.