The college football postseason is inherently weird. The de facto playoff quarterfinals are on the first weekend of December, then all the key players in the national championship hunt take the better part of three weeks off to jet around the country to eat themselves out of shape while attending award shows and fancy dinners. Coaches shift their focus away from the end of their season to go sign their next recruiting class. More than 80 teams participate, but only four compete for the national championship.
We all accept it because we live in this sport, but imagine how weird it would seem if the NFL held its draft in the weekend between the conference championships and the Super Bowl.
And even within those standards, the 2019-20 college football offseason is going to be weird.
ESPN announced its bowl schedule on Thursday — which is really the bowl schedule, since the Worldwide Leader the broadcast rights for almost every bowl game — and revealed that Bowl Week is now basically Bowl Month.
— The first bowl games kick off on Friday, Dec. 20, and the national championship game won’t be played until Monday, Jan. 13 — a span of 25 days. To put that in perspective, the NFL will play Week 16, Week 17, its Wild Card playoff round and its Divisional playoff round in the time it takes to get from college football’s first bowl game to its last.
— Because the College Football Playoff semifinals are on New Year’s Day only out of three years, two of the sport’s three most important games move around almost on a year to year basis. (Makes perfect sense, right?) It’s the Peach and Fiesta’s turn to host the semifinals, which means they fall on Saturday, Dec. 28, which means there will be Official National Semifinal Business counter-programmed by a pre-existing holiday known as Christmas Day. (Imagine the NFL ever doing this.)
This herky-jerky schedule will ask the two teams competing for the 2019 title games to play their conference championship games on Dec. 7, take two weeks off, play their semifinal game on Dec. 28, then wait 15 days before playing the national championship on Monday, Jan. 13.
Again, imagine the NFL ever doing this.
— Speaking of things the NFL would never do, it’s still weird the Power 5 commissioners agreed to stage their championship games on ESPN rather than seeking the largest possible audience via ABC.
— Because the semifinals are on Dec. 28, there are a number of games in between the semifinals and the title game. Fifteen of them, in fact, including show-stoppers like the Birmingham Bowl (Jan. 2), the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Jan. 3), the Armed Forces Bowl (Jan. 4) and the Mobile Alabama Bowl (Jan. 6).
Yes, college football is different than other sports, and there’s more to bowl season than crowning a champion. But playing mid-tier bowl games in the days between the semifinals and the finals is like scheduling a root canal in between your bachelor/bachelorette party and your wedding day.
— The 2019 campaign will be a season-long celebration of college football’s 150th anniversary, which means the season will run from Aug. 24 through Jan. 13. In other words, it’s gonna be a loonnnnnnnnnnngg season.
Now that you’re properly prepared, here’s the ESPN’s entire 2019-20 bowl schedule.
New Year’s Six games in italics, Playoff games in underlined italics. All times Eastern.
Friday, Dec. 20
Bahamas Bowl — 2 p.m., ESPN
Frisco Bowl — 7:30 p.m., ESPN2
Saturday, Dec. 21
Celebration Bowl — noon, ABC
New Mexico Bowl — 2 p.m., ESPN
Boca Raton Bowl — 3:30 p.m., ABC
Camellia Bowl — 5:30 p.m., ESPN
Las Vegas Bowl — 7:30 p.m., ABC
New Orleans Bowl — 9 p.m., ESPN
Monday, Dec. 23
Gasparillia Bowl — 2:30 p.m., ESPN
Tuesday, Dec. 24
Hawaii Bowl — 8 p.m., ESPN
Thursday, Dec. 26
Independence Bowl — 4 p.m., ESPN
Quick Lane Bowl — 8 p.m., ESPN
Friday, Dec. 27
Military Bowl — noon, ESPN
Pinstripe Bowl — 3:20 p.m., ESPN
Texas Bowl — 6:45 p.m., ESPN
Cheez-It Bowl — 10:15 p.m., ESPN
Saturday, Dec. 28
Camping World Bowl — noon, ABC
Cotton Bowl — noon, ESPN
College Football Playoff at the Fiesta/Peach Bowl — 4 p.m., ESPN
College Football Playoff at the Fiesta/Peach Bowl — 8 p.m., ESPN
Monday, Dec. 30
First Responder Bowl — 12:30 p.m., ESPN
Music City Bowl — 4 p.m., ESPN
Orange Bowl — 8 p.m., ESPN
Tuesday, Dec. 31
Belk Bowl — noon, ESPN
Liberty Bowl — 3:45 p.m., ESPN
Alamo Bowl — 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Wednesday, Jan. 1
Citrus Bowl — 1 p.m., ABC
Outback Bowl — 1 p.m., ESPN
Rose Bowl — 5 p.m., ESPN
Sugar Bowl — 8:45 p.m., ESPN
Thursday, Jan. 2
Birmingham Bowl — 3 p.m., ESPN
Gator Bowl — 7 p.m., ESPN
Friday, Jan. 3
Potato Bowl — 3:30 p.m., ESPN
Saturday, Jan. 4
Armed Forces Bowl — 11:30 a.m., ESPN
Monday, Jan. 6
Mobile Alabama Bowl — 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Monday, Jan. 13
College Football Playoff National Championship — 8 p.m. ESPN