Someone had to ask. And someone, like Brent Musburger, may as well reply.
What does he have to lose anymore?
On a conference call Wednesday afternoon with reporters, the question about the bowl lineup was phrased: “January 1st means a lot to the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl. Do you believe college football is best served by these two bowl games following the (two semifinal) playoff games (on New Year’s Eve) in the years when the semifinals aren’t in the Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl?”
Said Musburger, who’ll be calling Monday’s Sugar Bowl, which ESPN airs right after the Rose Bowl, and has been the voice of many national championship games in the past:
“In a word, no. The last three games of the college football season, as it is now structured, should be the two semifinals and then the championship game. You don’t go to any professional league and have regular-season games after the playoffs start.
“Now, I know, I got it, love the Rose Bowl, love the Sugar Bowl. I fully understand where they’re coming from. Let’s play those games on New Year’s and have the two semifinals after New Year’s, then the championship a quick week later. It would give it a much better buildup if you do it that way.”
Except the only way around it with the current calendar would have made the Rose and Sugar go back to Saturday’s New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, and the Peach and Fiesta semifinals would go on Jan. 2 — again, skipping over Sunday’s New Year’s Day.
That’s not a scenario Pasadena would go for.
If the Rose and Sugar could stay with the adjusted Monday stage, and the two semifinals went on Tuesday, Jan. 3, that wouldn’t leave enough time before the Monday, Jan. 9 title game in Tampa, Fla.
So … do we ask Katherine Webb to untangle this web we’ve weaved?
“Of course, the Sugar Bowl and the Rose Bowl frequently are going to be in the semifinals,” Musburger continued, “and they would have to agree to move off New Year’s when they are part of the championship. That’s how I look at that….”
After a followup question, Musburger said in regard to how the Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl in the rotation for the two semifinal games are going to be played on Saturday’s New Year’s Eve for the second year in a row:
“Listen, I love the people on the committee. I think they’ve done a great job with the final four. I have no second guesses except one: you’re not going to remake New Year’s Eve. It’s not happening. That’s a longer tradition than a College Football Playoff. We’ve all got parties to go to.
“Given today’s digital world, we don’t have to be sitting in our living room watching every commercial that pops up. We can look down at our phones. We can go into somebody’s rec room, get a quick glance at the score. … Television depends on people in the living room listening to commercials, that’s why Monday Night Football, Sunday Night Football became such a great success. Only show in town. You’re not going to beat the parties on New Year’s Eve. All the wives, mothers of the world, they put up with all of us football fans through the years. But New Year’s Eve? I don’t think so.
“Obviously if you’re Ohio State, Clemson born and bred, Alabama or Washington born and bred, you’re going to stay home on New Year’s Eve and watch the football games. That’s how I feel about New Year’s Eve.”
But if you’re a USC or Penn State fan, then it’s OK to play New Year’s Eve?
With all that to ponder, Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Samatha Ponder are part of Saturday’s Ohio State-Clemson national semifinal game and then head to Pasadena for the USC-Penn State Rose Bowl game (2 p.m., ESPN), joined by Tom Rinaldi.
Which game do you think this crew of four is looking forward to most?
The rest of the bowl schedule that still seems to matter:
= Peach Bowl: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Washington at Atlanta, noon, ESPN (Joe Tessitore, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe)
= Fiesta Bowl: No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Ohio State at Phoenix, 4 p.m., ESPN (Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Samantha Ponder)
ESPN has also set up the multi-cast for each game that breaks down this way:
“Command Center Telecast” (ESPN2) for split-screen and multi-camera views
“Finebaum Film Room” (SEC Network) has Paul Finebaum, Booger McFarland, Jordan Rodgers and Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze taking calls from fans during the Washington-Alabama game.
“Hometown audio” on ESPN3 has the local radio broadcasts linked to the ESPN picture
“Data Center” on ESPN3 has additional stats, tweets and other info
“SkyCam” on ESPN3 is a permanent view above the action.
= Birmingham Bowl: South Carolina vs. South Florida, 11 a.m., ESPN (Eamon McAnaney, John Congemi, Kevin Weidl)
= Belk Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Arkansas, 2:30 p.m., ESPN (Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham, Dr Jerry Punch)
= Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Colorado, 6 p.m., ESPN (Adam Amin, Mack Brown, Molly McGrath)
= Liberty Bowl: Georgia vs. TCU, 9 a.m., ESPN (Beth Mowins, Anthony Becht, Rocky Boiman)
= Sun Bowl: Stanford vs. North Carolina, 11 a.m., Channel 2 (Brad Nessler, Gary Danielson)
= Music City Bowl: Nebraska vs. Tennessee, 12:30 p.m., ESPN (Tom Hart, Andre Ware, Cole Cubelic)
= Arizona Bowl: Air Force vs. South Alabama, 2:30 p.m., Channel 5 via American Sports Network and Campus Insiders (Mike Gleason, Doug Chapman, Monica McNutt)
= Orange Bowl: Florida vs. Michigan, 5 p.m., ESPN (Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Todd McShay) The hook: Bob Griese will join the telecast at some point with the game in his hometown of Miami.
Saturday’s other games:
= Citrus Bowl: LSU vs. Louisville, 8 a.m., Channel 7 ( Dave Pasch, Greg McElroy, Tom Luginbill)
= Taxslayer Bowl: Kentucky vs. Georgia Tech, 8 a.m., ESPN (Mark Jones, Rod Gilmore, Quint Kessenich)
= Outback Bowl: Florida vs. Iowa, 10 a.m., Channel 7 (Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham, Dr. Jerry Punch)
= Cotton Bowl: Western Michigan vs. Wisconsin, 10 a.m., ESPN (Bob Wischusen, Brock Huard, Allison Williams)
= Sugar Bowl: Auburn vs. Oklahoma, 5:30 p.m., ESPN (Brent Musburger, Jesse Palmer, Kaylee Hartung)
== Bill Walton, who continues to be in disbelief that a technical foul wasn’t called on Oregon for the court rushing twice at the end of Wednesday night’s game as he did UCLA-Oregon for ESPN2, moves on to Corvallis, Ore., for the UCLA-Oregon State game on Friday at 8 p.m. for the Pac-12 Network with Greg Hester on the play-by-play.
FS1 (J.B. Long and Casey Jacobsen) has USC at Oregon on Friday at 7 p.m.
== No college football on Sunday, but the Under Armour All-America Game from Orlando, Fla., is a go on Sunday at 10 a.m. on ESPN up against the NFL. Kevin Brown does play-by-play with recruiting analysts Tom Luginbill and Craig Haubert on the call. According to the rosters, USC commit Alijah Vera-Tucker, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound offensive lineman from Bishop O’Dowd in Oakland and UCLA commit Greg Rogers, a 6-foot-3, 305-pound defensive tackle from Arbor View High in Las Vegas are participating. The only Southern California athletes listed are Calabasas High cornerback Darnay Holmes (uncommitted), Rancho Cucamonga High cornerbacks Jaylon Redd (committed to Oregon) and Thomas Graham (uncommitted) and Santa Margarita High tight end Grant Calcaterra (Oklahoma) on rosters either supplied by ESPN and on the game’s official site.
== John Forslund, Brian Boucher and Pierre McGuire are on the call for the NHL Centennial Classic — the outdoor game at BMO Field in Toronto between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs on Sunday (noon, Channel 4). That precedes the annual Winter Classic at Busch Stadium in St. Louis between the Blues and Blackhawks with Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, McGuire and Bob Costas joining in (Monday, 10 a.m., Channel 4)
== The Harlem Globetrotters playing at Venice Beach? It apparently happened, and ESPN2 has it as a “Harlem Globetrotters Southern California Special” on Monday at 4 p.m.
= FS2 (it’s still a channel) experiments with the telecast of the St. John’s-Seton Hall women’s college basketball game on Friday at 4 p.m. by having a commercial-free presentation and allowing both coaches to wear mikes that can heard during time outs. Lisa Byington and LaChina Robinson call the game with the audio from St. John’s head coach Joe Tartamella and Seton Hall head coach Anthony Bozzella.