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A title game for the ages, as long as you weren’t sleeping: While We’re Waiting

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Happy Tuesday, WFNY!

If you guys are at all like me, you are paying a severe price this morning for watching the college football national championship game last night. It’s a fruitless thing to complain about because it’s never going to change, but my goodness. Having a major event that ends at 12:30 am on in the Eastern time zone makes no sense whatsoever.

Just because it’s fruitless to complain about it, of course, doesn’t mean I’m not going to. I’m totally going to complain about this. I’ve already talked to a couple people this morning who told me they fell asleep and missed the ending of the game. How much of a bummer is that? One of the greatest championship games of all time, and they missed it because someone, somewhere, in some dark room, decided that this game needed to start at 8:30 pm.

It’s not just the start time, of course. It’s the fact that they turned this into a four-hour game. Between the ridiculous number of times the clock stops in college football, to reviewing every other play, to extended commercial breaks to milk every last dollar out of it, to a longer-than-necessary halftime break, the powers that be took every opportunity to make this event last as long as possible. Why? Because it’s a spectacle. It’s a money printing operation. It’s the highlight and culmination of the college football season. All eyes are on this game, and the NCAA wants to get their money’s worth.

I get all of that. It’s completely understandable and legit. But why can’t the game start at 7:00 pm Eastern? The obvious answer is that if the game starts at 7:00 in the east, it will be starting at 4:00 pm Pacific, meaning a lot of people will still be at work when the game starts. I’m sure “they” have done plenty of studies to determine what time generates the most viewership across all time zones, and clearly those studies have said it’s better to wait for the west coast folks to get home before you start the game, even if it means a whole bunch people in the east are going to fall asleep and miss the game. I guess the silver lining is that many of them will fall asleep with the game on, so the ratings won’t be affected.

So look, I know this isn’t about what is “fair”. I’ve already said I know full well this is a pointless thing to complain about. So I’m not being naive or delusional. But I’m going to talk about how this affects us as fans because that’s what I care about. I couldn’t care less about how much money the NCAA and these universities make on this game. I care about fans who want to watch and can’t stay up.

Here’s the thing, though. No matter what you do, fans on one of the coasts are going to be impacted negatively. Move the game to 7:00 and the west coast folks potentially miss the beginning of the game. Keep it at 8:30 and the eastern folks potentially miss the end of the game. As long as this country has five primary time zones, there’s just never going to be a good way to handle this.

So, if I were representing the fans’ interests in this discussion, I would say we have two options. One, we could abolish the time zones and make the Central time zone the standard for this entire country. It would be a little strange in the summer when the sun goes down at 11:00 pm on the west coast and in the winter when the sun goes down at 4:00 pm on the east coast, but people would adjust and it would potentially work. Obviously, this is never going to happen, though.

Which leaves us with our last option, then, which is to choose the lesser of two evils. Is it better to force west coast people to miss the start of the game, or to force east coast people to either miss the end of the game or else potentially put their job in jeopardy by being too tired the next day to perform at 100 percent efficiency? I am not neutral in this debate, but I would say missing the end of the game is worse than missing the start.

Perhaps if any of the WFNY west coasters (Hi Kyle!) read this they could give us their perspective. If we have any WFNY commenters on the west coast, they can chime in and state their case. All I know is that staying up until 12:30 am to watch that game and then waking up at 5:00 am for work is awful. It’s truly the worst. If Ohio State was in this game, a lot of offices in Columbus would have closed or at least opened a little later to let their employees watch the game and get some sleep. When the Cavaliers won the NBA Championship, nobody batted an eye when I took a half day for the next morning and came in at lunch. But when it’s two teams not from this area playing, it’s still a big game and a major event, but taking off work for it is a significantly worse look. For some (many?), taking off isn’t an option at all. And so it is we have to decide between sleep/work/performance and watching perhaps the second biggest sporting event of the year in the United States.

I hate it. And even though I know it is never going to change, I’m never going to stop complaining about it. It seems unnecessarily cruel to me.

As for the game itself? Well, it was an instant classic. One of the best college football games I have ever seen. We’ve seen some really good bowl games this season. The Orange Bowl with Florida State and Michigan was a dizzying back-and-forth affair at the end. The Rose Bowl with Penn State and USC will go down as one of the best Rose Bowls ever. But the sport saved the best bowl game of the season for the one that mattered the most.

We’ve been lucky to see some incredible championship games since the implementation first of the BCS and now the playoff system. Last year’s Clemson-Alabama game was fantastic. There was the Ohio State-Miami (FL) double overtime classic in 2003, Texas-USC in 2006, Florida State-Auburn in 2014. Everyone can decide for themselves how they want to rank them, but this year’s title match was one for the ages. The two clear-cut best teams in the country going toe-to-toe in a back and forth of one potentially back-breaking haymaker after another.

Who didn’t think the game was probably over when Alabama TE O.J. Howard took Jalen Hurts’ pass 68 yards for a touchdown and a 24-14 lead late in the third quarter? When Clemson took a 28-24 lead with four minutes and subsequently had pushed Alabama into a 3rd and 16 play, it felt inevitable. When Jalen Hurts scrambled 30 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with just two minutes left, it seemed like Clemson had once again blown an opportunity to win a title.

But that’s when Deshaun Watson cemented his legacy in Clemson lore forever. Watson and Clemson receiver Mike Williams combined for a couple big pass plays and Clemson TE Jordan Leggett made an incredible catch to get Clemson to within striking distance with 0:14 left in the game. An incomplete pass and pass interference play later, Clemson was on the 2 yard line with just six seconds left. Watson then found Hunter Renfrow all alone in the front corner of the end zone for the winning touchdown.

As someone who doesn’t care about Clemson one way or another, it was just an awesome scene to behold as a sports fan. A team that has been fighting to climb the mountain and claim legitimacy as NCAA football power, Clemson finally had reached their goal.

Now Watson heads to the NFL and has to keep his fingers crossed that the Browns don’t draft him. I kid (or do I), but I also have no idea what kind of NFL QB Watson will be. I’m always someone who admires athletes who come up biggest in the premiere games, and that is most certainly Watson. Two years in a row he has put up stellar performances against the mighty Alabama defense in the biggest game. That means something to me. Does it mean he’ll be a great NFL QB? I don’t know that, I just know he won’t be rattled by the moment or by a challenge.

It seems unlikely the Browns will take Watson first overall in this draft and there is almost no chance he would drop to 12, so it probably doesn’t matter. And I’ll defer to Joe Gilbert and Michael Bode who study this stuff way more than I do as to how Watson projects at the next level. I just know that deep down, there’s a part of me that wouldn’t be terribly disappointed if Watson ended up a Brown. If nothing else, we already know he wears orange well.

Have a great week at WFNY, my friends.

  • RGB

    Foster and Brown (among others…) should have both been pitched for targeting. Blatant targeting. Launch yourself headfirst like a missile targeting. But, Alabama.

  • mgbode

    When we go to an expanded playoff, put the CFP championship on MLK Day, then an earlier start time will work.

  • RGB

    MOAR FOOZBALL!

  • NankirPhelge

    Andrew, I agree wholeheartedly. I’ve nominated this article for the Pulitzer Prize in Common Sense.

  • Or move the season ahead so the championship game falls on the New Year’s holiday. A lot of places don’t close for MLK (my office doesn’t).

  • RGB

    Couple of things…
    Cam Robinson is a huge human being. Like blot out the sun huge.
    Hunter Renfro is destined to torture people playing for New England.

  • mgbode

    Would love a return to NYD meaning something again but that is let’s say “less likely”

  • jpftribe

    Fell asleep, 3rd Q. Put the game on the weekend.

  • mgbode

    there were several blocks last night by Cam where I was like “that’d look nice at RT”

  • Hopwin

    Before we move on to abolishing time zones, let’s start small by eliminating %$^@ing Daylight Savings Time.

  • NankirPhelge

    And speaking of football playoffs, the first weekend of this year’s NFL playoffs is a good argument for not expanding the playoff field. Four snoozers. We don’t need any more mediocre teams.

  • Baby steps, eh? I can get on board with that.

  • Garry_Owen

    I think complaining about refs is generally dumb, but also . . . can I get an PI call on Alabama? At least they finally did it on the second to last play (which was enormous) – but I’m convinced that it’s only because Dabo raised so much hell during the game before that.

  • RGB

    One block in particular, I’m sure you saw it, where he “punched” the rush LB and he went flying 5 yards out of the play.
    He did seem to have a little trouble with Ferrell’s speed. But, so did the buckeyes, and I suspect others will.

  • Garry_Owen

    Watched Sherlock (wow! what a show!) for much of the game, but returned for the 4th Quarter. Fell asleep right after Clemson’s penultimate TD, missed Alabama’s drive, but woke up again for the end of Clemson’s last drive. Glad I did (wow! what a game!).

  • JNeids

    Seriously. Just split the difference (like, spring forward 30 min right now) and call it a day.

  • Garry_Owen

    Agree on all of this. Also, Ben Boulware is destined to end up in Baltimore where he will torture the Browns for a decade. (Kid’s a dirty player, imo, but a monster, and in keeping with our moral relativity discussion from yesterday, wouldn’t complain if he put on an oranger orange helmet next year.)

  • Garry_Owen

    Or get rid of a cupcake game or two at the front of the season.

  • mgbode

    Yeah, lots of NFL guys are going to miss Ferrell on some blocks.

    There was another block on one of the wide screens where Cam blocked his guy, pivoted to the outside and took out a LBer, then turned upfield (by this time the WR was tackled but not by anyone who stepped near Cam).

  • Garry_Owen

    Why not just play those expanded games in December?

  • Garry_Owen
  • RGB

    I was thinking the yinzers, but yeah…

  • Garry_Owen

    Barf. But, you’re right. That’s where he’ll be (if they don’t draft Raekwon McMillan, which is what they’ll definitely do).

  • Garry_Owen

    I did that today already. I’m a half hour ahead of you. And boy, can I tell you, the future is bright! You’re really going to enjoy today.

  • RGB

    Boulware to the yinzers, Foster to the ratbirds, and McMillan to Cincy…

  • Garry_Owen

    And the Browns will reach for a slot WR and trade down for a Div 3 QB.

  • mgbode

    I would be OK with this because I already have nightmare of somehow Hooker getting picked by the Ravens and becoming Ed Reed II

  • mgbode

    and all the DB had to do was tackle the Clemson WR to the ground after he was beat (in a bit of irony, I think the safety was in perfect position to help and the CB needn’t have tackled him)

  • Garry_Owen

    That’ll probably happen, too. The Browns will trade a pick to them so they can do it.

  • mgbode

    More football, not less

  • Garry_Owen

    Tough call. I was thinking at the time that it was a smart move by the CB. Prevent a TD, give your team a chance to live for another play or two. He clearly didn’t know that the Safety was in position (which, you could argue, he should have known).

  • Garry_Owen

    If Derek Carr was healthy, the Raiders win (or the game is at least competitive). Don’t know about the Miami game, but I think the same is true. Nobody wants to start Matt Moore in the playoffs. Nobody.

  • JM85

    Start the game at 7:30 or 8. Or have it on Saturday.

  • JNeids
  • mgbode

    Well, the NFL playoffs are almost as much about having enough healthy guys to field a team.

    Miami – Tannehill and both starting safeties out
    Oakland – Carr out
    Houston – Savage out
    Detroit – Stafford playing with a broken finger on his throwing hand

    We were a Brock Osweiler hit away from seeing Brandon Weeden enter the game!

  • mgbode

    Oh, almost forget Oakland was missing their starting LT, which helped the Texans DL control things too!

  • RGB

    According to the HARVARD Draft value chart, the #1 pick is worth five 4th-rounders.
    Moneyball! 😉

    https://harvardsportsanalysis.wordpress.com/2011/11/30/how-to-value-nfl-draft-picks/

  • mgbode

    Also what could have been a smart move was on that final TD pass play, Bama defenders could have tackled the WRs at the snap. 1/2 the distance means nothing. 3-4 seconds means everything. Clemson would have had to kick the FG to tie or go for it for the game (and lose if they didn’t get from the 2yd line).

  • RGB

    Isn’t that rub play legal within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage?

  • Garry_Owen

    That DL, though . . .

  • Garry_Owen

    These playoffs have done more to make me think that the Browns should spend every draft pick on a QB until they find the guy than I thought was possible. I hate that the NFL is so obviously QB-dependent, but it is what it is.

  • jpftribe

    First Grossi, now Bayless. This guy is quickly becoming my patron Saint.
    https://twitter.com/AllbrightNFL/status/818835029493186560

  • Garry_Owen
  • mgbode

    Gray area of the rules, the first one I think is legal because the WR was “going for the ball” (turned his back to the defender and had his hands up for the pass) — 2nd one, he just made sure to create a pile with the defender, but also not a penalty (I think – need to see exact wording) because the CB picked went around that pile

  • RGB

    Sam Riddle – Linfield

  • WFNY_DP

    It looked like on the game winner the outside guy feigned tripping and falling at the feet of the DB. Either way, they certainly aren’t the first team and won’t be the last to get away with a pick play.

  • Garry_Owen

    Super Bowl.

  • WFNY_DP

    Honestly, start the game earlier. The people on the west coast probably have DVRs. And that means they get to skip a ton of the crap while catching up after they get home, in addition to having the game end at 8:00 PM for them. Still time to catch Two Broke Girls or whatever dreck it is that people watch.

  • Garry_Owen

    If there’s a west coast team playing, I get having a late start. But you’re right. There’s no reason to keep it this late. I mean, we’re talking South Carolina and Alabama. And while I know that both institutions have alumni all over the place, it’s still South Carolina and Alabama.

  • Eric G

    Option 3, move to the Best Coast!
    Seriously, save the Thursday night crap fest, every Browns game was over by 1. I had plenty of time to get stuff done outside, take the kids to the park, run all the errands and if I wanted to watch the Sun night game, it’s over by 8:30. OVER BY EIGHT THIRTY. Oh, and it’s so cold today. It’s probably only going to get up to 62.
    Sure, my 1700sqft was over $400k, and the freeway traffic oftentimes sucks, and it’s incredibly over-populated, but good sleep!