New Year's Day in college football isn't what it used to be. Not even close.
Which is what made the Big Ten's scheduling philosophy toward the day especially puzzling.
In recent years, the Big Ten tried to dominate New Year's Day with its bowl lineup, clustering games in the morning and early afternoon that fed into the Rose Bowl in the late afternoon. The league liked that that no matter where you turned, you saw a Big Ten team in action.
It would have been a nice idea in 1985 or 1995, but times have changed.
Fans want to see every game, and many complained to me and others about having to track multiple bowl games simultaneously. Fans attending games missed seeing other Big Ten teams in bowls. The cluster created consternation.
It's why Big Ten fans will be pleased to see a less-cluttered bowl lineup on New Year's Day, thanks to the upcoming College Football Playoff. Colleague Brett McMurphy reports that the Capital One and Outback Bowls will be the only non-playoff games on Dec. 31 or Jan. 1. The Big Ten is tied in with both games so the league will maintain a New Year's Day presence, but the years of five or six bowls featuring Big Ten teams on the same day are over.
The one downside is that the Outback and Capital One bowls will overlap a bit -- both are expected to kick off between 11 a.m. ET and 1 p.m. ET. Still, it's better than tracking four games featuring Big Ten teams at the same time.
Most years will feature three guaranteed Big Ten matchups on New Year's Day: Capital One, Outback and Rose. The Rose Bowl is a national semifinal this year, so there's no guarantee a Big Ten team makes it to Pasadena.
The Gator Bowl and Heart of Dallas Bowl, both of which will feature Big Ten teams every other year, move away from Jan. 1. The Gator Bowl will be played Jan. 2, McMurphy reports, and the Heart of Dallas shifts to a different date.
We already knew the Big Ten's new bowl lineup would feature some variety in dates of games, as well as a broader spectrum of opponents and sites.
A smaller New Year's Day presence with the best games remaining on the date benefits Big Ten fans.
It also helps the league avoid days like this.