National Football Foundation

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The NFF Salutes the College Football Playoff
Fourth edition continues the powerful tradition of using the game as the ultimate platform for showcasing the best of college football.
Published: 1/10/2018 10:00:00 AM

Fourth edition continues the powerful tradition of using the game as the ultimate platform for showcasing the best of college football.

IRVING, Texas (Jan. 10, 2018) – The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame salutes the College Football Playoff (CFP) and its staff for their exceptional efforts in staging the Fourth Annual CFP National Championship along with the Atlanta Football Host Committee (AFHC) for their hospitality in hosting multiple first-class events.

“The College Football Playoff continues to exceed everybody’s expectations,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning. “Executive Director Bill Hancock and his outstanding staff have truly built something special, notching their fourth year of remarkable events. The CFP National Championship has established itself as one of the most compelling gatherings in all of sports, and the game’s success is a testament to our country’s love of college football. The CFP staff’s attention to detail left nothing to chance, and it marked the fourth time that they have transformed an entire region, highlighting everything right with our great game as well as the region’s local and unique culture.”

A sold-out crowd of 77,430 fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga., witnessed Alabama (14-1) and their 26-23 overtime victory against Georgia (13-2). The game’s thrilling conclusion came after a missed Alabama field goal in the final seconds of regulation, forcing the first overtime in CFP title game history. The Crimson Tide regrouped in the second stanza, notching the win when freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa who had come off the bench to start the second half, threw a 41-yard touchdown to wide receiver DeVonta Smith for the dramatic victory.

The game produced the second best audience in cable television history, averaging a total live audience of 28.4 million viewers with a 16.7 combined overnight rating, according to ESPN and Nielsen. Only the Oregon-Ohio State CFP title game in 2015, which had 33.9 million viewers and an 18.8 share, eclipsed Monday night’s audience on cable. Coupled with the CFP semifinal games, ESPN reported that the combined viewership for all three games increased by 18 percent from last season with an average 14.9 overnight rating. Factoring in all of the New Year’s Six Games, ESPN said the CFP games averaged a 9.8 rating, a 5 percent increase from last year or the best in the CFP system’s history.

The CFP worked closely with the AFHC, led by Board of Directors President Dan Corso, the president of the Atlanta Sports Council and member of the College Football Hall of Fame Board of Trustees, and AFHC Executive Director Carl Adkins. The AFHC headed the fundraising effort to host the game and the accompanying events in Atlanta, which culminated with the big game on Monday night. Their efforts paid off with an unparalleled experience for fans, which highlighted the region as a world-class destination. Volunteers, affiliated companies and organizations, both locally in Atlanta and from across the country, all came together to produce a memorable week of events.

“The whole picture, the championship game, the Rose Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the New Year’s Six, really highlights that the interest in college football continues to soar,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “People are fired up about it. Everybody is looking for more, which is a great testament to the future of college football. We are extremely grateful to the AFHC and Bill Hancock and his staff for delivering a first-class experience. We know that they sacrificed incalculable hours with their families while enduring many sleep-shortened nights to an exceptional experience for the fans.”

The NFF would like to congratulate CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock and his staff on their accomplishments, including Chief Operating Officer Michael Kelly, Chief Financial Officer Dave Marmion, Senior Director of Operations and Logistics Laila Brock, Senior Director of Communications and Brand Management Gina Lehe, Senior Director of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships Alfred White, CFP Foundation Executive Director Britton Banowsky; directors Allison Doughty, Nikki Epley, Wes Gentry, Ryan Allen Hall and Jason Sabatino; controller Tim Frick; coordinators Will Baggett, Claudia Dorsey, Ben Habren, Lauren Lanier, Courtney Stanford, Rijo Walker and Allyson Wilker; interns Willi Anderson, Jasmyn Le-Compte, Riley Hart, Morgan Jones, Erick Newman II, Tiye-Saran Mutazz; and the many experienced and talented volunteers from across the country who traveled to lend their talents.

The NFF worked with the CFP staff to stage several major events leading up to the fourth edition of the CFP National Championship. The events included the induction of Atlanta Falcons Owner Arthur Blank into the NFF Leadership Hall of Fame on Jan. 4; the announcement of the 2018 College Football Hall of Fame Class from the field on Jan. 8 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which aired live on ESPN during SportsCenter and included the participation of Coach Mack Brown (Appalachian State, Tulane, North Carolina, Texas); the involvement of members of the newly announced Hall of Fame Class during the coin toss of the title game, including Matt Stinchcomb (Georgia), Coach Frank Beamer (Murray State, Virginia Tech) and Coach Mack Brown; and the recognition of 2017 William V. Campbell Trophy® recipient Micah Kiser, the First Team All-America linebacker from Virginia, on the field between the first and second quarters of the title game.

The NFF would like to provide a special thanks to several key individuals and the members of the host committee for the NFF Leadership Hall of Fame induction of Arthur Blank, including Atlanta Falcons President & CEO Rich McKay, Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation President Penny McPhee, United Distributors Chairman & CEO Doug Hertz, who chaired the host committee, College Football Hall of Fame CEO Dennis Adamovich, the Atlanta Falcons Limited Partners, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Chick-fil-A Foundation, The Coca-Cola Company, and East Lake Foundation.

“All of our sport’s stakeholders are thrilled, and the NFF was honored and ecstatic to be a part of it,” said Hatchell. “The celebration in Atlanta was just spectacular the past seven days, and the region rolled out the red carpet in style for the college football nation.

“The game included multiple events, which exhibited a true commitment to excellence. The region’s leadership utilized its immense resources, moving people with ease and without delay to their destinations. We thank everybody for their leadership and the thousands of people and volunteers who worked hard to make these events a reality. The whole week was a spectacular showpiece for college football with the eyes of the nation focused on the region’s efforts.”

(Photo: NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell (right) joins 2018 College Football Hall of Fame electees (L-R) Frank Beamer, Matt Stinchcomb and Mack Brown at the CFP title game on Jan. 8. Photo Credit: Melissa Maccatee.)

ABOUT The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame
Founded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army coach Earl "Red" Blaik and immortal journalist Grantland Rice, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame is a non-profit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. With 120 chapters and 12,000 members nationwide, NFF programs include Football Matters®, the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, The William V. Campbell Trophy® presented by Fidelity Investments, annual scholarships of more than $1.3 million and a series of initiatives to honor the legends of the past and inspire the leaders of the future. NFF corporate partners include Delta Air Lines, Fidelity Investments, Herff Jones, New York Athletic Club, Pasadena Tournament of Roses, PrimeSport, the Sports Business Journal, Under Armour and VICIS. Learn more at

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