Clemson To Take On Alabama In College Football Championship
KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
Last year, everyone pretty much agreed that the first ever college football playoffs were a wild success with high ratings and compelling games - this year, not so much. Both semifinal games were snoozers, and ratings have been way down compared to last year. College football fans and a certain sports and entertainment network with the letters ESPN in its name are hoping for a big turnaround tonight with the CFP national title game in Glendale, Ariz. And joining me here in the studio is sports writer Holly Anderson formerly of ESPN and Grantland. Welcome to the show.
HOLLY ANDERSON: Thank you. Good to be back.
MCEVERS: So it's Clemson versus Alabama, and Clemson is playing for its first title in 34 years. Alabama seems to be playing for a title basically every year. Is that why Clemson despite being undefeated and ranked number one is a fairly heavy underdog at this point to 'Bama?
ANDERSON: Kelly, you're half right. And we'll get back to the stony inevitability of 'Bama football in a minute. But Clemson would have been a surprise team in this title game if you'd been picking your playoff teams in August no matter who was on that opposite sideline.
You know, the story of this year's Clemson team in the preseason was attrition. How were they going to replace all these parting players, all these injured players? They'd had significant injuries sustained since. And they, you know - they're a surprise in and of themselves. And then, yes, you have to account for the fact that Alabama football is - it's a natural law. It is gravity.
MCEVERS: (Laughter) Yeah.
ANDERSON: It is entropy. You don't think about it a lot.
MCEVERS: It just happens.
ANDERSON: But it's in your everyday life.
MCEVERS: (Laughter) Yeah.
>>ANDERSON And you sure can't fight against it a whole lot.
MCEVERS: So it sounds like you're saying that this championship game will actually be fairly exciting compared to the semifinals.
ANDERSON: You know, I said this last year on this same program, but I hope so because - and I love you, Alabama. You know I do, but I want some variety in my life.
ANDERSON: I would like to see a good football game because, you know, we're like squirrels at this point - college football fans. We're stuffing our cheeks with as much football as we can get for this eight-month off-season that stretches in front of us. And I just want to go out on a high note.
MCEVERS: ESPN has about a billion different ways that you can watch this game on all different platforms. You can watch coaches and analysts dissect a game in real time on ESPN2. You can watch it on something call the Homer telecast on ESPNU. Is it true also that ESPN will telecast the game with a round table of retired Elvis impersonators, or is that just an Internet rumor?
ANDERSON: I can't confirm or deny that.
ANDERSON: But I am really looking forward to the halftime show in which Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith are joined by a gang of sexist puppets.
MCEVERS: OK. That sounds, like, really - I mean, if this game is another route, you know - serious question here - will there be big changes then to this college football playoff thing, like adding more teams to the mix maybe next year - something like that?
ANDERSON: My answer is the same in either direction. I think change in the college football playoff is inevitable, but it's also going to be glacial but the same driving reason behind both teams. It's - you know, there's - what? - a 12-year agreement to the playoff, and I think before it's halfway done, we will see an expansion because once everybody figures out just how much more money they can make that way. That's where this is going.
MCEVERS: That's sports writer Holly Anderson. She's formerly of ESPN and Grantland. Thank you so much.
ANDERSON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.