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CFP semifinal ratings up from 2015, still down significantly from 2014

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Considering both games were blowouts it’s hard to know where this particular chicken-egg debate begins and ends, but it’s clear by now that viewers have strongly rejected the concept of College Football Playoff semifinals on New Year’s Eve.

ESPN released viewership data for Saturday’s semifinals on Sunday, announcing that viewership was up 11 percent from last year but not close to making up the 35 percent drop from 2014 to ’15. Birmingham scored a 42.1 rating for Alabama’s 24-7 triumph over Washington in the Peach Bowl, while Columbus led all markets with a 35.1 rating for Clemson’s 31-0 blanking of Ohio State. Columbus and Knoxville out-rated Seattle for the Peach Bowl, while more people watched the Fiesta Bowl in Birmingham (31.3) than Greenville, S.C. (27.9).

Across the nation, the Peach Bowl scored a 10.9 rating, up from last year’s 9.7 in the early time slot but well down from the 15.3 rating of the 2015 Rose Bowl. The Fiesta Bowl scored an even 10.0, up slightly from a 9.9 in the same slot a year ago but still not close to the 15.5 registered by the 2015 Sugar Bowl.

Two consecutive years of blowouts certainly didn’t help matters — margins of victory for the last two years of semifinals: 20, 38, 17 and 31 — but it’s clear now that Bill Hancock‘s grand “paradigm shift” pronouncement of New Year’s Eve semifinals was a gigantic flop.

The semifinal rotation moves back to the Rose and Sugar next year, pushing the games back to their viewer-friendly date of New Year’s Day. After that, the semifinals will move off New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day for the first time, to Dec. 29 in 2018 (Cotton and Orange) and Dec. 28 in 2019 (Peach and Fiesta). The semifinals will not move back to New Year’s Eve until 2021 and ’22.

Louisville, USF announce future three-game series

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This is one we would’ve liked to have seen when Lamar Jackson and Quinton Flowers would’ve been taking the field.

Be that as it may, Louisville and USF announced Thursday morning that the football programs have reached an agreement on a future three-game series.  The Cardinals will travel to South Florida for Sept. 21, 2024, for the middle game of the series.  The Bulls will head to Papa John’s Stadium Sept. 24, 2022, and Sept. 19, 2026.

“The USF and Louisville programs have featured some of the most exciting players in college football over the last few seasons,” USF athletic director Mark Harlan said in a statement. “We are excited to have Louisville returning to Raymond James Stadium and to add a three-game series with an exciting, top-level opponent with which we share a great deal of history.”

Tne two schools have met in football 11 times previously, most coming when both were members of the now-defunct Big East conference. They first played in 2003, with the last matchup coming in 2013.

The Cardinals hold a 6-5 lead in the mini-series.

Baker Mayfield named winner of 2017 Manning Award

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Baker Mayfield‘s collegiate career may be over, but he’s not finished collecting some hardware from this level.

Thursday, the Allstate Sugar Bowl announced that Mayfield has been named as the winner of the 2017 Manning Award.  The award, named in honor of the quarterbacking Mannings — ArchiePeyton and Eli — is the only one to take into account a quarterback’s performance in the postseason.

“I would like to thank the Allstate Sugar Bowl for creating this award in our family’s name 14 years ago,” said Archie Manning in a statement. “It is an honor to have our name associated with the top quarterback in the nation each year. I would also like to congratulate Baker Mayfield, who capped a tremendous career with an outstanding senior season to earn this honor. To say he took a different path to success would be an understatement. I doubt there’s ever been a player who walked on to two different teams and reached this level of success.”

The 2017 Heisman Trophy winner won this honor over a field of finalists that included J.T. Barrett (Ohio State), Kelly Bryant (Clemson), Sam Darnold (USC), Jalen Hurts (Alabama), Lamar Jackson (Louisville), Trace McSorley (Penn State), McKenzie Milton (UCF), Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State), Jarrett Stidham (Auburn) and Khalil Tate (Arizona).

Clemson’s Deshaun Watson had been the winner of the last two Manning Awards.

Report: Death of Bill Snyder’s grandson being investigated as suicide

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The situation in Manhattan is tragic enough.  This latest development merely serves to add to the sorrow.

Kansas State confirmed in a statement Thursday morning that the grandson of legendary head football coach Bill Snyder and longtime K-State assistant Sean Snyder, 22-year-old Matthew Snyder, passed away unexpectedly Wednesday afternoon.  While details are scant, USA Today Sports is reporting that Snyder’s death is being investigated as a suicide.

A police spokesperson told the Kansas City Star that the young man’s passing is being classified as an “unintended death,” an umbrella under which suicide falls.

“Right now it is still being classified as an unintended death,” the spokesperson told the Star. “A suicide does fall under that category, but at this time ‘unintended death’ is the language that we are using until we can further investigate.”

Emergency personnel were called to Snyder’s residence in Manhattan yesterday afternoon on an unspecified medical call.  The address of the house to which the first responders were called is listed as being owned by Sean Snyder and his wife.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Snyder family during this very difficult time,” a statement from KSU athletic director Gene Taylor read. “We are deeply saddened to learn of this news and ask that the family’s privacy continue to be respected. Sean, Wanda, and the entire Snyder family are greatly appreciative of the outpouring of support displayed by the K-State Family as they cope with this tragedy.”

In wake of Tyler Hilinski’s suicide, Drew Bledsoe sends powerful message to men

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As Washington State continues to come to grips with tragedy, there are those connected to the program who are hoping, even pleading, that something good can come out of the pain.

Tyler Hilinski‘s body was found Tuesday evening at his residence, dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot to the head.  As those close to Hilinski mourn the sudden death of the 21-year-old redshirt sophomore quarterback, some, including teammate John Bledsoe, took to social media to express their grief.

Bledsoe is a freshman quarterback at Wazzu who is also the son of Cougar great Drew Bledsoe. On his Instagram account Wednesday, the elder Bledsoe, who acknowledged that he didn’t know Hilinski well, sent out a heartfelt message imploring men “to learn to TALK about how we are feeling.”

“If we sprain an ankle we go see a doctor,” Bledsoe wrote. “If we’re struggling emotionally we have to learn to treat it the same way.”

Everybody needs help at some point.  Male or female, if you’ve gotten to that point, reach out for the help.  As Bledsoe stated, it’s not a sign of weakness it’s the ultimate sign of strength.  Talk to a family member, friend, co-worker, clergy, anyone.  If you’re too embarrassed to talk to someone you know, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is just a phone call away at 1-800-273-8255.

Just talk to someone.  Whether you believe it at the time or not, your life is worth it.