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College Football’s Calendar Problem Is Even Worse Than the NFL’s

Last Friday I wrote about how weird it is that part of the “2023” NFL regular season takes place in 2024. But as last night’s CFP national championship game reminded us, the situation in college football is even worse.

Look at that screen shot at the top of this page: The Michigan players were celebrating their win by wearing caps with “2023” while still wearing their jerseys with the “2024” patch.

This isn’t new. The CFP system has always handled it this way, going back to the first CFP championship game in 2015, won by Ohio State:

So at least the CFP’s approach to this has been consistent. Or, if you prefer, consistently inconsistent.

Sure, you can come up with an explanation for this; Last night’s game took place in 2024, but it was the capper to the 2023 season. Or was it the capper to the 2023-24 season? It’s kind of a mess.

Whatever the solution is, I hope we can agree on this: The jersey patch and the postgame cap should have the same year. I mean, come on!

Comments (24)

    It looked especially awkward on Michael Penix, Jr.’s jersey, as with his captain’s C, the “2()24” patch was almost on top of his left-shoulder TV number.

    It’s definitely only the 2023 season. No regular season games took place in 2024. But even before the playoff, the New Year’s Day bowls were always listed as the next year. So it’s been this way for a while. The 2010 (as an example) Pac-10 champ would meet the 2010 Big 10 champ in the 2011 Rose Bowl.
    But I will give you that this loos especially odd.

    I mean, they aren’t lying when the cap and jersey have different dates.

    I’d just not have caps.

    While I *get* why they do it, I’ve never liked the CFP “20__” logo patch (with the ascending years beginning in 2015) to begin with.

    Now that NCAAFB as we’ve all known and loved it is effectively over, and we move to a 12-team playoff next season, maybe they can come up with a patch that is devoid of a year. Just use the trophy graphic, and if it *has* to be different every year, so be it. But leave the calendar designation off of it.

    If you google “who won the college football championship in 2023”, the answer is “Georgia”. If you ask ”who won the championship for the 2023 season in college football”, you get the answer “Michigan”.

    The situation seems to me to be significantly _less_ confused than the NFL. No games of the 2023 NCAA football season were played in 2024; only playoff and title games are played in the subsequent year. Whereas the NFL regular season now spans across the years. So the NCAA championship is clearly the culmination of the 2023 season, whereas the upcoming Super Bowl concludes the 2023-24 season.

    That’s true of the title game only, but not necessarily even the NCAA semifinals. Bowl Games dance between Dec and Jan, creating all kinds of confusion. If you see a team played in, say, the 2018 Whatever Bowl, was that part of the 2017 or 2018 College Football Season? As was pointed out in the comments when Paul brought this up initially, Michigan State won the 2015 Cotton Bowl, then later went on to lose the 2015 Cotton Bowl.

    Interesting that the end zones were BFBS, with Michigan written in Maize (yeah, I know Phil…yellow), and Washington written in purple outlined in gold. Michigan’s Maize showed up well against the BFBS. Washington’s Purple/Gold was barely visible.


    “(yeah, I know Phil…yellow)”

    I call it “maize”. You must have me confused with someone else.

    Oops, my bad. Sorry about that. It was Paul who made the Maize is Yellow reference in the piece about the uniforms for the game.

    As others have said, if the championship / playoff logo wasn’t just the year with a football replacing the 0 then it wouldn’t be such a problem. The full season is played in one year, with parts of the postseason in the following year. So calling Michigan the 2023 season champions is fully correct. If they fix the playoff logo to something better it won’t be a problem. Hopefully with the new playoff format starting next year we’ll get a new logo. And perhaps they’ll also come up with a better trophy.

    Anyone know what the new hashmarks are between the numbers on the football field and the sidelines? I noticed it in the Pac-12 Championship Game and then again last night in the CFP. They run parallel to the sidelines.

    I noticed it too. You can see here the double slashes beneath every 10-yard designation. link

    Compare that to Houston’s NFL field, and those same marks are not there. link

    I’m wondering if this serves as some kind of visual guide for the officials, but I can’t imagine exactly what. It’s not a slot receivers *must* stand between, it’s not where the officials spot the ball if a play goes to the sidelines or out of bounds. Might need to do some digging on this…

    The only thing that seems to make any sense — and yet it doesn’t really — would be that those hash marks indicate where the yardage numbers would be on a high school football field: link

    But why would they do that? They’d need to widen the width of the 1-yard hash marks for High School, so it’s not like that field could just be used (or high school width inserted there).

    OK…apparently this isn’t a new thing either. They had those same hashmarks for the Utah/Oregon 2021 Pac Championship too…


    You can see them in this video from that ’21 game: link

    It looks as though NCAA numbers on fields have to be nine yards from the sideline, while NFL numbers have to be 12 yards from the sideline.

    So those hash marks would be on there to denote where the numbers should be. Found in the NFL rule book that for a legal substitution, a player must cross the top part of the field numbers, so I would assume that would be the same in college. The officials would need to know where the top line of the NCAA numbers should be on an NFL field to make sure substitutions are legal.

    If you look at photos of NCAA fields i.e. Oregon, Ohio State and look at NFL fields, you will notice NCAA numbers are closer to the sideline. Hope that helps.

    Makes sense. I first noticed them at Allegient Stadium, but had not seen them anywhere else until last night. Have yet to see any on a grass field, say Hard Rock Stadium where a college team has played on a Saturday and and NFL team played on a Sunday.

    I’ve seen that multiple times before. Been done for years.
    Thankfully I’m late to the party so Taylor could explain why instead of me.

    This is why in European sport we get round this by saying the 2023-2024 season, not the 2023 season.

    Since Michigan became the first Jordan Jumpman college football team to win the CFP title, I wonder what Jimmer Vilk’s 5 & 1 matchups would be if only Jumpman brand teams (currently Florida, Howard, Michigan, North Carolina, Oklahoma and UCLA) played each other.

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