LITTLE ROCK —Back from vacation, the first column is for catching up on the CFP and the NFL.
The semifinals of the new College Football Playoff will revive a football-watching tradition.
Years ago, there were only three television networks of any import and the only bowl games that mattered were on Jan. 1. CBS had the Cotton Bowl; NBC did the Rose Bowl and the Orange Bowl, and, most of the time, ABC showed the Sugar Bowl.
Perfect for watching multiple bowl games simultaneously, picture in picture was preceded by picture AND picture. Side by side, the 24-inch color TV was dedicated to the most attractive game and the secondary contest was on the 17-inch black-and-white portable. Channels were changed by hand, supper was scheduled during halftime of the Rose Bowl, and the trip home from the in-laws coincided with halftime of the Orange Bowl.
For more than 30 years, most of the exceptions to the Jan. 1 lineup were the handful of years when the New Year began on a Sunday and the games were moved en masse to Jan. 2.
Last Jan. 1, the Rose and Orange were on along with three games in Florida and one in Dallas. Two of the games started before noon and two more began at noon. One bowl had a team that lost its conference championship game by 39, another had a team that lost five regular-season games, one offered Northern Illinois, and another involved Lousville.
Compare that lineup to Jan. 1, 2015, when the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl will host semifinal games in the playoff. After the 2015 regular season, the semifinals will be Dec. 31 in the Orange and Cotton. Following the 2016 season, it’s the Fiesta and Chick-Fil-a on Dec. 31.
Those are dates to be circled far in advance.
Also looking ahead, a year from now keep in mind the vast gap between NFL draft projections and reality for Arkansas Razorback players.
Originally, I thought running back Knile Davis being picked in front of quarterback Tyler Wilson was the biggest surprise of the draft as far as Razorbacks were concerned. Au contraire. Prior to the draft, beat writer Robbie Neiswanger offered the mock drafts of of NFL.com, FoxSports.com, Sporting News, and WalterFootball.com and they had offensive guard Alvin Bailey as high as the latter part of the second round to early sixth round.
Bailey, who started every game during his three years at Arkansas and was an All-SEC second team selection, was not drafted. Neither was running back-kick returner Dennis Johnson, who was projected to go in the fifth round in two of the mock drafts. Johnson was one of more than a half-dozen Razorbacks who signed as free agents.
On the other end, Davis was penciled in for the sixth round in three of the four mock drafts.
Kansas City had to overlook Davis’ variety of injuries to pull the trigger on the 227-pounder, an intriguing prospect in the draft because of his 2010 production and his numbers in the NFL combine — 4.37 in the 40-yard dash and 31 reps on the 225-pound bench press, both second among running backs. If he can stay healthy, he could spell Jamal Charles, who carried 280 times last year.
The analysts were pretty much on target with wide receiver Cobi Hamilton going in the sixth round. Projected from fourth round to seventh round, tight end Chris Gragg was drafted in the seventh and final round.
Competing against Matt Flynn and Terrelle Pryor, Wilson has the best opportunity to play meaningful minutes immediately. “Everybody said the situation is what is most important, not necessarily what round or slot,” Wilson was quoted as saying.
For instance, Ryan Mallett, his predecessor at Arkansas, is still watching Tom Brady in New England.
Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.