The anticipation of the College Football Playoff's expansion from a four-team field to a 12-team field is brewing among both casual and diehard football fans. On the third weekend of December of 2024, a new era in college football will begin, but for bowls like the New Mexico Bowl, Las Vegas Bowl, and Celebration Bowl, it is the end of an era.
The third Saturday of December has always been fun for college football fans, especially in the Group of Five, as it marked the beginning of the bowl season. Now, with the first round of the College Football Playoff on the third Friday and Saturday of December in 2024 and 2025, these bowls suddenly have to find new homes. With 42 bowls, bowl season is crowded enough, and fitting in the nine bowl slots affected by the CFP schedule change is almost impossible with the current Bowl schedule.
Thus, the FBS should consider extending the bowl season into the first week of January. Throughout the College Football Playoff era, non-Playoff bowls played after New Year's Day (or January 2nd, when New Year's Day occurs on a Sunday) have been an off-and-on phenomenon. After the first-ever College Football Playoff on January 1st, 2015, five non-New Year's Six Bowls were played from January 2nd-January 4th, while January 2nd, 2016 featured a quadruple-header of non-New Year's Six bowls.
After this, 2019 would be the next season to have post-New Year's Day non-CFP bowls as five bowls occurred from January 2nd-January 6th due to the 3rd Saturday of December falling on December 21st. The 2020 bowl season had a pair of non-New Year's Six Bowls on January 2nd to close out the season, while the Texas Bowl closed out the 2021 bowl season on January 4th of 2022.
The CFP's semifinals will be on the second Thursday and Friday of January in 2024 and 2025. Spreading the bowls that once called the third weekend of December home across the first week of January would benefit both parties. Most of these bowls would get their own TV window, while ESPN gets live programming to build excitement for the college football playoff.
Additionally, having non-New Year’s Day bowls after New Year’s will be less awkward in the new playoff structure. With college football fans’ attention hyper-fixated on the Playoff (by design by your favorite TV conglomerate), having bowls such as the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Guaranteed Rate Bowl, and Texas Bowl occurring after the Playoff hardly drew the attention of casual fans and even some die-hards. Having the bowls build up to the CFP semifinals will build excitement and make fans more inclined to watch, as the perception of having a lot of impactful football left on the schedule will prevail.
The 12-team Playoff’s impact on the other 30+ bowls on the docket is unknown, but it is far from time for these bowls to hit the panic button. A simple lengthening of the bowl schedule is a win for all parties involved.