College Football Preview 2017 Part 1: Coaches

Fall camp is underway across the country, which means the season is finally around the corner! This year I have split the season preview into four parts: Coaches, Rosters, Schedules, and Projections. First up we’ll take a look at coaching, how it impacts a team’s success, how much turnover can be expected year-to-year, and how intertwined coaching ties have become at the Power 5 level.

Win/expectation rate

This value represents the rate which a coach wins games compared to their expectation, in terms of win probability. The input data is the most recent 4 seasons which a coach has led his current team, weighted towards the most recent seasons. If a coach has been with his team for fewer than 4 seasons, then his full tenure with the current team is used.

As an example, Paul Chryst* has the highest win/expectation rate among active coaches, at .3212. This means that Chryst increases Wisconsin’s win probability relative to their roster strength by approximately .32 standard deviations. By default, all coaches in their first year with a team start the season at zero and the rate adjusts after each game.

Coaches on the bottom end of the spectrum are likely to be fired without marked improvement. For reference, the lowest win/expectation rate in 2016 was Charlie Strong at Texas, with a rate of -.3126.

The inherent bias in this scale favors coaches who don’t recruit as strongly but win a lot of games, and penalizes coaches who recruit very strong rosters. This is why you don’t see names like Nick Saban or Urban Meyer near the top of this list (their recruiting prowess will be recognized in the Rosters preview).

*This high win expectation rate at Wisconsin tends to exist regardless of who is their current head coach, suggesting that recruiting ranking services are undervaluing Wisconsin prospects.

Highest win/expectation rates heading into 2017:

 

School Coach Win/Expectation Rate
Wisconsin Paul Chryst 0.3212
Air Force Troy Calhoun 0.3189
Navy Ken Niumatalolo 0.3128
Tulsa Philip Montgomery 0.2796
Appalachian State Scott Satterfield 0.2496
Troy Neal Brown 0.2251
West Virginia Dana Holgorsen 0.2242
Utah Kyle Whittingham 0.2187
Washington State Mike Leach 0.2159
BYU Kalani Sitake 0.2120
Virginia Tech Justin Fuente 0.2051

Lowest win/expectation rates:

School Coach Win/Expectation Rate
East Carolina Scottie Montgomery -0.1735
Missouri Barry Odom -0.1748
Massachusetts Mark Whipple -0.1870
Kansas David Beaty -0.1933
Texas State Everett Withers -0.2029
Georgia Kirby Smart -0.2090
Rutgers Chris Ash -0.2252
Notre Dame Brian Kelly -0.2438
Charlotte Brad Lambert -0.2516
UCLA Jim L. Mora -0.3007
Virginia Bronco Mendenhall -0.3094

It’s not realistic to say a coach is actually on the hot seat in year 2 so most of these guys don’t belong in that conversation just yet, though if they under-perform expectations again their names may come up in that discussion next year. Brian Kelly and Jim Mora, on the other hand, desperately need to have a successful 2017. It’s interesting to see BYU with one of the highest rates and their former coach Bronco Mendenhall with the lowest rate. Another year will shed light on whether he is a good fit at Virginia.

New coaches

FBS coaching turnover rate is typically around 22 coaches per year, and 2017 falls right in line with 23 coaches starting their first season with their team. The lowest number of new coaches to start a season since 1987 was 11 in 1988 followed by 12 in 2006. The highest number of new coaches was 33 to start the 2013 season.

Team New Coach Coach’s Previous Stop
Baylor Matt Rhule Temple, Head Coach
California Justin Wilcox Wisconsin, DC
Cincinnati Luke Fickell Ohio State, co-DC
Connecticut Randy Edsall Detroit Lions, staff
Florida Atlantic Lane Kiffin Alabama, OC
Florida International Butch Davis North Carolina, HC (2010)
Fresno State Jeff Tedford Washington, staff
Georgia State Shawn Elliott South Carolina, OL
Houston Major Applewhite Houston, OC
Indiana Tom Allen Indiana, DC
LSU Ed Orgeron LSU, DL & interim Head Coach
Minnesota P. J. Fleck Western Michigan, Head Coach
Nevada Jay Norvell Arizona State, PGC
Oklahoma Lincoln Riley Oklahoma, OC
Ole Miss Matt Luke Ole Miss, OC
Oregon Willie Taggart South Florida, Head Coach
Purdue Jeff Brohm Western Kentucky, Head Coach
San Jose State Brent Brennan Oregon State, WR
South Florida Charlie Strong Texas, Head Coach
Temple Geoff Collins Florida, DC
Texas Tom Herman Houston, Head Coach
Western Kentucky Mike Sanford Jr Notre Dame, OC
Western Michigan Tim Lester Purdue, QB

 

Iowa is the only FBS program to have the same coach since 2000. Houston and Georgia Southern have experienced the most coaching turnover in that time, each with 7 different head coaches during the Kirk Ferentz era at Iowa.

Next Man Up (Power 5 only)

In order to prepare for inevitable turnover, athletic directors across the country need to have a list of names ready to go should a replacement be needed on short notice. Here are some names that are likely to be in the conversation for Power 5 openings in 2018, as well as candidates with ties* to each Power 5 school:

Available Big-Name coaches:

Art Briles– Fired amidst scandal at Baylor. At age 61 and carrying recent baggage, it is unlikely that Briles will land a head coaching gig again, but a desperate program may take a flyer on him at OC.

Jeff Fisher– Most recently coached the Los Angeles Rams in 2016, Fisher has never coached outside of the NFL. At age 59, he may be content to stay out of coaching, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see his name floated around for high-profile college openings.

Hugh Freeze– Very recently let go at Ole Miss, Freeze may be a little toxic for a year or so. However, if Bobby Petrino can bounce back from his incident, Freeze should be able to as well. Freeze is only 47 years old; he’ll be back in coaching one day.

Jim Grobe– Last seen as Baylor’s interim coach in 2016, but at age 65 is probably not a viable head coaching hire anymore.

Mark Helfrich– Fired from Oregon after a disappointing 2016 season, but just 3 years removed from a national championship game appearance. Only 43 years old, Helfrich will definitely get another shot very soon.

Chip Kelly– Possibly the biggest name out there at the moment. Kelly will be mentioned for every high profile college and NFL opening until he accepts an offer. At 53 years old, he’s got plenty of years left in the tank.

Les Miles– Fired mid-season 2016 at LSU, but Miles is still very much a viable head-coaching candidate and has expressed interest in wanting to get back in the game ASAP. He’ll turn 64 this fall, but Miles would be a great get for a program looking to make a quick splash in recruiting.

Bo Pelini– Currently the head coach for FCS Youngstown State, but Pelini is way too good of a coach to stay at that level for long. He’s only 49 years old, and last year took the Penguins to the FCS championship game. He won 9 or 10 games in each of his 7 seasons as Nebraska’s head coach.

Bob Stoops– Recently retired from Oklahoma and has publicly stated he wants to enjoy his retirement, but programs will definitely attempt to lure Stoops back into the game. He’ll turn 57 this season.

Jim Tressel– Currently the president at Youngstown State. It seems like if Tressel was going to get back into coaching it would’ve happened for the 2017 season, as his show-cause penalty expired in December 2016. He’s 64 years old, so it’s difficult to imagine a high-profile program chasing him, but this would be a very splashy hire for anyone looking to get a little publicity.

Tommy Tuberville– Most recently fired from Cincinnati, Tuberville may not grab another head coaching gig at age 62, but would be an appealing addition to a staff for recruiting purposes.

Team Current Coach Replacement Candidate & connection
Alabama Nick Saban Dabo Swinney, Clemson head coach- former Alabama player & WR coach
Arizona State Todd Graham Jay Norvell, Nevada head coach- former Arizona State PGC
Arizona Rich Rodriguez Dino Babers, Syracuse head coach- former Arizona OC
Arkansas Bret Bielema Gus Malzahn, Auburn head coach- former Arkansas OC
Auburn Gus Malzahn Jimbo Fisher, Florida State head coach- former Auburn QB coach
Baylor Matt Rhule Philip Montgomery, Tulsa head coach- former Baylor OC
Boston College Steve Addazio Doug Martin, New Mexico State head coach- former Boston College OC
California Justin Wilcox Hue Jackson, Cleveland Browns head coach- former California OC
Clemson Dabo Swinney Chad Morris, SMU head coach- former Clemson OC
Colorado Mike MacIntyre Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern head coach- former Colorado GA
Duke David Cutcliffe Scottie Montgomery, East Carolina head coach- former Duke OC
Florida Jim McElwain Geoff Collins, Temple head coach- former Florida DC
Florida State Jimbo Fisher Kirby Smart, Georgia head coach- former Florida State GA
Georgia Kirby Smart Mike Bobo, Colorado State head coach- former Georgia OC
Georgia Tech Paul Johnson Jeff Monken, Army head coach- former Georgia Tech RB coach
Illinois Lovie Smith Paul Petrino, Idaho head coach- former Illinois OC
Indiana Tom Allen Rod Carey, Northern Illinois head coach- former Indiana player
Iowa Kirk Ferentz Bret Bielema, Arkansas head coach- former Iowa player & LB coach
Iowa State Matt Campbell Chris Ash, Rutgers head coach- former Iowa State DB coach
Kansas David Beaty Dave Doeren, North Carolina State head coach- former Kansas co-DC
Kansas State Bill Snyder Brad Lambert, Charlotte head coach- former Kansas State player
Kentucky Mark Stoops Neal Brown, Troy head coach- former Kentucky OC
Louisville Bobby Petrino Jeff Brohm, Purdue head coach- former Louisville player & OC
LSU Ed Orgeron Frank Wilson, UTSA head coach- former LSU RB coach
Maryland D.J. Durkin Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State head coach- former Maryland PGC
Miami FL Mark Richt Mark Whipple, Massachusetts head coach- former Miami FL OC
Michigan State Mark Dantonio Pat Narduzzi, Pitt head coach- former Michigan State DC
Michigan Jim Harbaugh D.J. Durkin, Maryland head coach- former Michigan DC
Minnesota P. J. Fleck Everett Withers, Texas State head coach- former Minnesota DC
Mississippi State Dan Mullen Mark Hudspeth, Louisiana-Lafayette head coach- former Mississippi State PGC
Missouri Barry Odom Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach- former Missouri OC
Nebraska Mike Riley Scott Frost, Central Florida head coach- former Nebraska player & GA
North Carolina Larry Fedora Blake Anderson, Arkansas State head coach- former North Carolina OC
North Carolina State Dave Doeren Doc Holliday, Marshall head coach- former North Carolina State WR coach
Northwestern^ Pat Fitzgerald Kevin Wilson, Ohio State OC- former Northwestern OC
Notre Dame Brian Kelly Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech head coach, former Notre Dame OC
Ohio State Urban Meyer Tom Herman, Texas head coach- former Ohio State OC
Oklahoma Lincoln Riley Seth Littrell, North Texas head coach- former Oklahoma player
Oklahoma State Mike Gundy Larry Fedora, North Carolina head coach- former Oklahoma State OC
Ole Miss Matt Luke Tom Allen, Indiana head coach- former Ole Miss LB coach
Oregon Willie Taggart Chris Petersen, Washington head coach- former Oregon WR coach
Oregon State Gary Andersen Kalani Sitake, BYU head coach- former Oregon State DC
Penn State James Franklin Matt Rhule, Baylor head coach- former Penn State player
Pitt Pat Narduzzi Mike Norvell, Memphis head coach- former Pitt  co-OC
Purdue Jeff Brohm Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M head coach- former Purdue player & WR coach
Rutgers Chris Ash P.J. Fleck, Minnesota head coach- former Rutgers WR coach
South Carolina Will Muschamp Shawn Elliott, Georgia State head coach- former South Carolina co-OC
Stanford David Shaw Willie Taggart, Oregon head coach- former Stanford RB coach
Syracuse Dino Babers Tim Lester, Western Michigan head coach- former Syracuse OC
TCU Gary Patterson Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech head coach- former TCU co-OC
Tennessee Butch Jones Dave Clawson, Wake Forest head coach- former Tennessee OC
Texas A&M Kevin Sumlin David Beaty, Kansas head coach- former Texas A&M WR coach
Texas Tom Herman Major Applewhite, Houston head coach- former Texas player & co-OC
Texas Tech Kliff Kingsbury Mike Jinks, Bowling Green head coach- former Texas Tech RB coach
UCLA Jim L. Mora Brent Brennan, San Jose State head coach, former UCLA player
USC Clay Helton Mike Riley, Nebraska head coach- former USC OC
Utah Kyle Whittingham Gary Andersen, Oregon State head coach- former Utah DC
Vanderbilt Derek Mason Mike MacIntyre, Colorado head coach- former Vanderbilt player#
Virginia Bronco Mendenhall No obvious candidate with ties to school
Virginia Tech Justin Fuente Bud Foster, current Virginia Tech DC
Wake Forest Dave Clawson Troy Calhoun, Air Force head coach- former Wake Forest OC
Washington Chris Petersen Jim L. Mora, UCLA head coach- former Washington player & GA
Washington State Mike Leach James Franklin, Penn State head coach- former Washington State TE coach
West Virginia Dana Holgorsen Todd Graham, Arizona State head coach- former West Virginia co-DC
Wisconsin Paul Chryst Justin Wilcox, California head coach- former Wisconsin DC

 

*Incredibly, every Power 5 program except Virginia and Virginia Tech has ties to a current head coach in either the NFL or at another FBS program. Note that the viability of candidates with ties to a school may not be great, this is just an illustration of how intertwined the coaching community is today.

^The only active head coach with Northwestern ties is Jim Caldwell with the Detroit Lions. At age 62, Caldwell seemed less likely than Wilson (age 55) as a candidate which would be mentioned as a viable replacement.

#MacIntyre eventually transferred to and graduated from Georgia Tech, but began his college playing career with Vanderbilt.

 

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National Championship Win Probability

Updating for game results and injuries, I’ve run my model to generate a win probability for the National Championship game on Monday between Alabama and Clemson:

Projected winner Opponent  Win Prob.
Alabama Clemson 68.37%

This equates to a line of Alabama -7 (as of this writing the Las Vegas consensus line is Alabama -6.5).

The advantage for Alabama is largely from their roster value; coaching efficiency slightly favors Clemson in a weighted average over the past 4 seasons, despite an edge to Alabama for the 2016 season (coaching efficiency measures how well teams fare compared to expectations based on roster value differences. The higher mark for Clemson here implies that Clemson has performed better than expected against their opponents over the last 4 years when isolated to roster values compared to Alabama’s expectations. The edge in 2016 for Alabama is largely due to Clemson’s loss to a less talented roster compared to no losses for Alabama). Alabama’s season performance rates a little higher than Clemson’s (again, due to Clemson’s loss), and there is no tangible home-field advantage for either team.

What does this all mean?

Alabama is more likely to win, but it would not be shocking to see Clemson come out on top. For reference, my model had the line at Alabama – 16.5 against Washington (Alabama won by 17, covering by 0.5; nice), and Clemson +3 against Ohio State (Clemson won by 31, covering 34; not so nice).

Throughout the season Alabama rarely covered the spread my model set for them (only 4 out of 14), but the average spread was about -34 so that doesn’t really imply under-performance. In fact, this is the first spread my model has for Alabama that is not double digits (the next smallest was -14 against LSU).

Clemson followed a strikingly similar path, also covering only 4 of 14 with an average spread of about -31. My model had Clemson favored by double digits in all but two games: -7 against Florida State and +3 last week against Ohio State.

A few factors to consider in this game that are not accounted for in my model:

  • Lane Kiffin is no longer running the offense for Alabama. This will be Steve Sarkisian’s first time running the show for Bama; quite a stage for a debut. Perhaps Sark has been more involved behind the scenes all year? It’s hard to imagine Saban wasn’t prepared for this scenario.
  • Will Alabama be a little complacent? Clemson fell just short in this game last year, and the revenge-seeking emotional edge could be enough to overcome the slight talent disparity.
  • Going 15-0 is really hard to do. Clemson entered this game last year at 14-0 while Alabama was 13-1. In 2014, Florida State entered the playoff at 13-0 and was obliterated by a 1-loss Oregon team. Sometimes the experience of a loss helps later in the season. Small sample size caveats aside, is this Alabama team led by a freshman QB really going to be the first to go 15-0?

16 Team Playoff

The number of bowl games has grown to the point where most of them are irrelevant. So much so that players are deciding to skip the lesser games to prepare for their post-college playing careers. Bowl games are supposed to be a reward for a great season; instead they have been watered down to merely an exhibition game that coaches can point to as an achievement to justify bonuses and contract extensions. All of this could be fixed with the implementation of an expanded playoff. I briefly touched on this in an off-season feature, but let’s now take a look at what a 16-team playoff would’ve looked like this year with the following criteria:

  1. All 10 conference champions receive an auto-bid; 6 at-large
  2. Home sites for the first 2 rounds, hosted by the higher seed

Here is what this field would look like:

Auto bids

1 Alabama

2 Clemson

4 Washington

5 Penn State

7 Oklahoma

12 Western Michigan

13 Temple

14 Western Kentucky

15 San Diego State

16 Appalachian State

At-Large

3 Ohio State

6 Michigan

8 Wisconsin

9 USC

10 Colorado

11 Florida State

And the bracket:

Round 1

16 Appalachian State at 1 Alabama

9 USC at 8 Wisconsin

12 Western Michigan at 5 Penn State

13 Temple at 4 Washington

11 Florida State at 6 Michigan

14 Western Kentucky at 3 Ohio State

10 Colorado at 7 Oklahoma

15 San Diego State at 2 Clemson

Yes, please! Every game is meaningful, and even in round 1 there are some fantastic match-ups. If the higher seeds advance, Round 2 looks even better:

8 Wisconsin at 1 Alabama

5 Penn State at 4 Washington

6 Michigan at 3 Ohio State

7 Oklahoma at 2 Clemson

We do get a re-match of a regular season game, but it was one of the best games of 2016 and as a traditional rivalry would have massive appeal. If the higher seeds advance in Round 2 we’d have the current playoff bracket. This format gives 15 excellent games, and could completely replace an antiquated bowl system where 38 of the 41 games are essentially exhibitions with only a handful of interesting match-ups.

A look back on the 2016 Preview

I posted a season preview in early August which included projections on conference champions and NY6/CFP participants. In the interest of maintaining accountability, let’s reflect on how those projections turned out.

Conference Champion Runner-up Conference
Florida State Clemson North Carolina VA Tech ACC
Ohio State Penn State Nebraska Wisconsin Big Ten
Oklahoma Oklahoma State Big XII
UCLA Washington Oregon Colorado PAC12
Alabama Georgia Florida SEC
South Florida Temple Houston Navy AAC
Western Kentucky Southern Miss LA Tech CUSA
Northern Illinois W. Michigan Ohio MAC
San Diego State Boise State Wyoming MtnWest
Arkansas State (co-champs) Appalachian State SunBelt

Yeesh, not great. Had a good pulse on the Big XII and Sun Belt, but a lot of swings and misses elsewhere.

 

Final Four picks   Bowl
Alabama Oklahoma Peach
Florida State Ohio State Fiesta
Other New Years 6 picks   Bowl
Clemson San Diego State Orange
Michigan UCLA Rose
Tennessee Notre Dame Sugar
Oregon Georgia Cotton

Picked 2 of 4 playoff teams correct, and had a 3rd in the NY6. The two other playoff picks weren’t far off, both landing in other NY6 games. Total of 6 out of 12 NY6 participants correct, but with most of the misses being comically bad.

Title Game   Location
Alabama Florida State Tampa

 

National Champion
Alabama

Alabama is still very much in play to win the national title, and I wouldn’t change my pick now.

Win Probabilities Bowl Games

National championship game probability will be posted after teams are determined.

Projected winner Opponent  Win Prob.
Utah Indiana 90.14%
Alabama Washington 85.68%
LSU Louisville 84.93%
Mississippi State Miami OH 83.93%
Oklahoma Auburn 80.05%
Boise State Baylor 77.06%
Air Force South Alabama 75.24%
Tulsa Central Michigan 74.55%
Oklahoma State Colorado 74.38%
Pitt Northwestern 73.89%
Western Kentucky Memphis 73.49%
Florida Iowa 72.37%
Temple Wake Forest 72.02%
Old Dominion Eastern Michigan 71.19%
Tennessee Nebraska 70.50%
Washington State Minnesota 70.01%
Arkansas State Central Florida 69.29%
South Florida South Carolina 69.06%
Troy Ohio 67.71%
North Texas Army West Point 66.53%
USC Penn State 65.15%
Stanford North Carolina 63.71%
Michigan Florida State 63.63%
Middle Tennessee Hawaii 63.31%
Miami FL West Virginia 62.39%
BYU Wyoming 62.39%
Texas A&M Kansas State 60.24%
Maryland Boston College 58.91%
Ohio State Clemson 58.25%
Appalachian State Toledo 57.99%
Southern Miss Louisiana-Lafayette 57.36%
Colorado State Idaho 57.13%
Houston San Diego State 56.44%
Wisconsin Western Michigan 54.46%
New Mexico UTSA 54.03%
Kentucky Georgia Tech 53.36%
TCU Georgia 52.67%
Navy Louisiana Tech 52.65%
Virginia Tech Arkansas 51.52%
North Carolina State Vanderbilt 50.55%

BoW projected wins results

Prior to the start of the season I’d listed expected wins for all 128 FBS teams. Now that the season is over it is time to take a look at how those projections fared (all win totals referring to regular season only; excludes conference championship games):

Correct win total: 22

Off by 1 game: 33

Off by 2 games: 39

Off by 3 games: 15

Off by 4 games: 8

Off by 5 games: 6

Off by 6 games: 5

Over/Under correct picks: 61/128

Essentially, these picks are distributed close to normal:

2016-expected-wins-results

Though I would’ve liked to see a higher number in the (-1,1) range, I am pleased that the distribution errs on the narrower side of the distribution, which implies the results are better than a normal distribution would expect to show. I’ll spend the off-season investigating why there is a spike in differences of +/- 2 games.

The most interesting aspect of large deviations from expected wins is the impact it has on head coaches. Here are the head coaching changes made so far this year, compared to where their teams fell related to expectations:

Fired coaches

Cincinnati: 3 wins below expectation (expected 7; actual 4)

Florida Atlantic: 2 wins below (5; 3)

Florida International: As expected (4; 4)

Fresno State: 3 wins below (4; 1)

Georgia State: 2 wins below (5; 3)

Indiana: As expected (6; 6) *Fired due to off-field situation

LSU: 2 wins below (9; 7)

Nevada: 1 win below (6; 5)

Oregon: 5 wins below (9; 4)

Purdue: 1 win below (4; 3)

San Jose State: 2 wins below (6; 4)

Texas: 1 win below (6; 5)

The only fired coaches who met on-field expectations were Florida International (whose low expectations are an indictment on the coach’s lack of acquisition/development of talent) and Indiana (who fired their coach for reasons independent of wins and losses). Even though some coaches were barely below expectations this year, they have been falling short for several years prior to this season as well (e.g. Purdue and Texas).

On the other end, these head coaches were hired-up due to exceeding expectations:

Tom Herman, Houston: 1 win above (8; 9)

Willie Taggart, South Florida: 3 wins above (7; 10)

Matt Rhule, Temple: 2 wins above (7; 9)

Jeff Brohm, Western Kentucky: As expected (9; 9)

It should be noted that Tom Herman was 4 wins above expected in 2015, Matt Rhule was 3 above in 2015, and Jeff Brohm was 4 above in 2015. These all contributed to elevated expectations that each coach was still able to meet or exceed in 2016.

How can this be used going forward?

The data from 2016 can be used to project who will be hot commodities and who will be on the hot seat in 2017. Coaches who found themselves on the extreme ends of this curve who remain with their 2016 teams are as follows:

Way Below Expectations (4 or more games; excluding first year coaches)

UCLA (-6) Jim Mora

Michigan State (-6) Mark Dantonio

Northern Illinois (-5) Rod Carey

Notre Dame (-5) Brian Kelly

Rice (-4) David Bailiff

Arizona (-4) Rich Rodriguez

Buffalo (-4) Lance Leipold

 

Way Above Expectations (4 or more games)

Colorado (+6) Mike MacIntyre

Western Michigan (+6) P. J. Fleck

Tulsa (+5) Philip Montgomery

Troy (+5) Neal Brown

Wisconsin (+5) Paul Chryst

West Virginia (+4) Dana Holgorsen

Wyoming (+4) Craig Bohl

Army (+4) Jeff Monken

Eastern Michigan (+4) Chris Creighton

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ticket Watch NY6, 12/6/16

Get-in prices for all of the NY6 bowls will updated in the Google spreadsheet every week until the week of the games. Tickets to the Cotton Bowl became comically cheap once the teams were announced; you can get in for $6 and can get a really good seat for under $50 easily. Tickets for the national championship are steadily rising, and will jump even further up if Alabama and Ohio State get there; prices will plummet if it is Washington and Clemson, and will stay about where they are if only one of Alabama or Ohio State get there.

The Rose Bowl get-in price shot up once USC was announced there, and the Orange Bowl had a slight uptick with the announcement of Michigan and Florida State. The Fiesta Bowl is very inexpensive for a playoff game, but this can be explained by two things: location and teams involved. First, unlike the Peach Bowl for Alabama, the Fiesta Bowl is too far away to drive to for both Clemson and Ohio State. Additionally, both teams’ fan bases are likely holding out for a trip the following week to Tampa. Each of these teams has played in the title game in the past two years; a semi-final is nothing special to them.