College Football Plays Its National Championship Game on a Monday for a Simple and Obvious Reason
The NFL plays its Super Bowl on a Sunday. It also plays most of its regular-season games on Sundays. Makes sense, right? The national championship for college football gets played on a Monday. College football, though, almost always plays its regular-season games on Saturdays. Where’s the logic in that?
Every college football season, we spend our Saturdays hanging out with family and friends, eating food, and watching games. But when it comes to the biggest competition of the year, we have to watch it on a Monday night and then get up and go to work on Tuesday morning.
So, why does college football play its national championship game on a Monday? Well, the reasoning behind it is simple and obvious.
College football used to have the BCS national championship
Now, it’s the College Football Playoff. But before the CFP, finding a national champion was confusing. It used to just be based on polls, which led to multiple national champions in a single season.
According to NCAA.com, in the last season before college football introduced the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), there were two national champions. There were also many other years with two national champions. In years like 1964 and 1970, there were even three.
However, once the BCS came along, other than one weird season in 2003, there has pretty much always been just one national champion. The BCS used computers to figure out the top two teams in the country. Those teams then played in one game that decided who the best team was that year. College football introduced the BCS during the 1998 season and used it through 2013.
The 2014 season, though, was the first time we saw the College Football Playoff.
The first College Football Playoff was in 2014
The College Football Playoff has been used since 2014. With that, we don’t use a computer system anymore. Instead, we see who the top four teams are based on the opinion of the selection committee.
It’s still not the most logical way to find a national champion, but at least we can see some of the country’s best teams battle it out. Most of the teams in the CFP would have probably been ranked high in the pre-BCS polls anyway. Two of them would have probably been the top two teams in the BCS rankings. So, to some degree, the CFP is better than what fans had in the past.
However, the big national championship game is always played on a Monday night. Why is that?
The Monday game doesn’t just go back to the CFP’s first season. The BCS also played its national championship game on Monday. In fact, according to CBS Sports, the last BCS national championship was originally scheduled for a Tuesday. Wait … what? Yes, a Tuesday. But it ultimately got rescheduled back to a Monday.
Here was what BCS executive director Bill Hancock said in 2012 about playing the game on a Monday. “Moving the game closer to the weekend makes it a little more fan-friendly in terms of travel,” Hancock explained, according to CBS Sports. “Plus, although the national championship game always enjoys blockbuster television ratings, moving it to Monday night may provide even more people a chance to watch the game.”
He continued: “This change also gives us a head start as we establish Monday night as championship game night under the college football playoff.” So, again, why is Monday night championship night?
Why does college football play its national championship game on a Monday?
The reason the game is on a Monday is pretty obvious: money. Hancock’s explanation proved it’s to ensure more people can watch the game.
Additionally, the national championship game pretty much always gets played at the same time as the NFL playoffs. Either the wild-card or divisional-round games are the weekend before the national championship. During the playoffs, the NFL also plays on Saturdays. So, college football would compete with the NFL if it were to play its big game on a Saturday.
Playing the game on Monday ultimately equals more people watching the game, which also increases the price tag for media rights. The College Football Playoff is set to grow from four to 12 teams by 2026, so the CFP’s media rights deal could generate $2.2 billion annually in revenue, according to Front Office Sports. Currently, the CFP’s deal with ESPN pays $470 million each year.
If ESPN continues to get boatloads of money for ads, the network will most likely keep paying millions to broadcast the game. The media rights and ads, though, wouldn’t be worth as much if the game competed with the NFL playoffs on a Saturday.
So, if you wonder why you have to stay up late on a Monday night to watch CFP, it’s simply because the rich want to get richer. Get your coffee ready for Tuesday morning.