Wait­ing game is here

LSU, Clem­son won’t play for nearly 2 weeks

Orlando Sentinel - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL - By Ralph D. Russo

GLEN­DALE, Ariz. — The matchup is set for a tan­ta­liz­ing Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off na­tional cham­pi­onship game.

On one side, de­fend­ing cham­pion Clem­son, with its 29-game win­ning streak. On the other, un­beaten and No. 1 LSU, with its record-set­ting of­fense and Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner.

But first, we in­ter­rupt this play­off for a break that is far from ideal.

LSU and Clem­son will play the fi­nal game of the 2019 col­lege foot­ball sea­son on Jan. 13 in New Orleans af­ter win­ning semi­fi­nals last Satur­day night.

Heis­man win­ner Joe Bur­row and his Tigers routed No. 4 Ok­la­homa 63-28 at the Peach Bowl. Clem­son's No. 3 Tigers beat No. 2 Ohio State 29-23 in a Fi­esta Bowl thriller.

The CFP sched­ule did not end up here by de­sign. It was a cor­rec­tion.

When the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off was crafted by the Foot­ball Bowl Sub­di­vi­sion con­fer­ence com­mis­sion­ers in 2012 and ‘13, they de­cided the semi­fi­nals would be played on Dec. 31 two out of ev­ery three years. The semi­fi­nals would ro­tate through six bowl games and when they were played at the Rose and Su­gar bowls, as they will next sea­son, the games would be on Jan. 1.

That's the per­fect spot: a na­tional hol­i­day when most peo­ple are off from work, be­ing couch pota­toes af­ter ring­ing in the New Year.

But the con­fer­ences that part­ner with the Rose (Pac-12 and Big Ten) and Su­gar (South­east­ern and Big 12) bowls chose to lock their show­case games into those Jan. 1 time slots for the 12-year du­ra­tion of the play­off. Even when they weren't host­ing semi­fi­nals.

That led to the ill-fated idea to rein­vent New Year's Eve as a night to watch col­lege foot­ball. It did not work and af­ter one sea­son the plan was scrapped. Fu­ture sched­ules in which the semi­fi­nals were planned to be played on Dec. 31 were moved to the clos­est Satur­day, un­less New Year's Eve was a Satur­day.

This year's sched­ule be­came par­tic­u­larly prob­lem­atic be­cause while the semi­fi­nals could be moved up to Dec. 28, the cham­pi­onship game could not be moved from Jan. 13.

CFP of­fi­cials have said the Su­per­dome in New Orleans was not able to ac­com­mo­date the switch, which would have pro­vided a more nor­mal eight-day lead-up.

So in­stead, the teams have ex­tended down­time be­tween games, and two rounds of NFL play­offs will be played in the mean­time.

“I know that the sched­ule, the NFL or what­ever, I don't know what all dic­tates all that stuff, but this year's been a lit­tle dif­fer­ent be­cause of the way it was laid out and the na­tional cham­pi­onship,” Clem­son coach Dabo Swin­ney said. “There's a bye week this year. That's an­other dif­fer­ence that the teams are go­ing to have to man­age in prepa­ra­tion for that be­cause it is a lit­tle unique.”

CFP ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Bill Han­cock said he was not con­cerned about fans los­ing in­ter­est due to the longer-than-usual lay­off.

“I don't think so be­cause the cham­pi­onship game is so big and I learned a long time ago not to worry about things you can't con­trol,” he said.

ROSS D. FRANKLIN/AP

Clem­son coach Dabo Swin­ney cel­e­brates af­ter last Satur­day’s Fi­esta Bowl win over Ohio State.

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