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Bill Hancock doesn't foresee CFP semis moving from New Year's Eve

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Despite of a significant drop in television ratings from last season's semifinal games, College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said the CFP doesn't anticipate any changes to having the semifinals played on New Year's Eve.

The College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, in which No. 2 Alabama defeated No. 3 Michigan State 38-0, earned a 9.9 overnight rating. The College Football Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl -- No. 1 Clemson's 37-17 victory over No. 4 Oklahoma -- earned a 9.7 overnight.

"I was surprised," Hancock said on Friday. "We thought they might be down a little bit, but they were down more than I anticipated. But we have to remember that we had those noncompetitive games. We know what the factors were. ... We got a little unlucky with the noncompetitive nature of the games. We're just going to have to look at it over the months ahead, but we just don't anticipate any changes."

Next season, the Chick-Fil-A Peach and BattleFrog Fiesta bowls will host the semifinals on New Year's Eve, but in 2017, the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual and the Allstate Sugar Bowl will host the semifinals on New Year's Day. The semifinals will go back to New Year's Eve in 2018 and 2019.

"I'm confident we're right to get the games back into the holiday period," Hancock said. "That was a good move for us. We heard from people in the BCS. January 2, 3, 4, 5 just wasn't working. I think we were on the right track for that. We're just going to have to look and see about New Year's Eve."

Hancock said one year doesn't make a trend and that the ratings plunge would not prompt the CFP to consider expanding the bracket from four teams to eight.

"I don't want you to read too much into the numbers," Hancock said. "We're not going to. We are not making decisions based on the numbers, and we're not making decisions based on one year."

Hancock said he did understand the fans' perspective.

"I absolutely understand every fan who was unable to see the games," Hancock said. "What we don't know is how many people were unable, how many people tuned in and then tuned out when the games were not competitive, and how many people chose to do something else."

The semifinals are part of the New Year's Six bowl rotation, which includes the Rose, Sugar, Peach, Fiesta, Cotton and Sugar bowls. Some have questioned whether the semifinal games have detracted from the significance of the other major bowls that aren't hosting a semifinal that particular year.

"We are embedded in the bowl system," Hancock said. "We believe the bowls are good for college football, and we wanted the semifinals to be a part of the bowls. We had a conversation early on when we were thinking about the playoff about whether we could have the semifinals outside the bowl system, but intentionally kept it in the bowl system."

ESPN, which aired the CFP semifinals, released the following statement on the issue and had no further comment:

"The College Football Playoff is a long-term, multiplatform play for us," said Burke Magnus, ESPN executive vice president of programming and scheduling. "With that said, there are many variables that impact ratings results including what happens on the field, and the numbers this year were obviously impacted by the unbalanced scores of these games. Still, four of the New Year's Six bowls posted double-digit ratings increases, and we saw near-historic successes for streaming the games on WatchESPN across the two days. College football is strong, vibrant and growing and we look forward to the National Championship game on January 11."