The NFF Salutes the College Football Playoff

January 14, 2022 by The National Football Foundation

IRVING, Texas (Jan. 13, 2022) – The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame salutes the College Football Playoff (CFP) and its staff, led by CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock, for their exceptional efforts in staging the eighth CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T. The organization also congratulates the Indianapolis College Football National Championship Host Committee for their hospitality in hosting multiple first-class events.

"The College Football Playoff continues to exceed everybody's expectations," said NFF Chairman Archie Manning. "The CFP National Championship is 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. Bill Hancock and the CFP staff have once again transformed an entire region, highlighting everything right with our great game as well as the region's unique local culture."

A sellout crowd of 68,311 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis witnessed No. 3 Georgia (14-1) produce a thrilling 33-18 victory over No. 1 Alabama (13-2) on Jan. 10. Georgia, headed by Coach Kirby Smart, claimed the school's first national championship in 41 years and their first since the advent of a national championship game. The Bulldogs' 14 victories this season mark the most wins in school history.

Stetson Bennett IV, the former walk-on who earned the starting quarterback job this year, claimed the game's offensive MVP honors, completing 17 of 26 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns, which both came in the fourth quarter. Defensive back Kelee Ringo sealed the victory, returning an interception 79 yards for a touchdown with 54 seconds left in the game, and Safety Lewis Cine, who registered seven tackles, including one for a loss, was named defensive MVP.

The game generated a Nielsen-reported audience of 22.6 million viewers as part of ESPN's MegaCast presentation, a 19 percent increase from last year's CFP title game. The results exceeded the viewership for all events on cable since the 2020 LSU-Clemson national championship game and the most-viewed non-NFL sport event during the time period on any network.

The New Year's Six and CFP National Championship notched a 16 percent increase over last year's games, attracting an average of 14.2 million viewers across the seven games. The CFP semifinals and national championship game registered 18.9 million average viewers, a similar audience to last year's games, which had the advantage of the semifinals being played on New Year's Day. The New Year's Six averaged 12.7 million viewers, a double digit increase over last year, and all the games surpassed 7.5 million viewers for just the third time during the CFP era.

"The whole picture, the championship game, the Orange Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the New Year's Six, are a fabulous showcase for college football," said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. "And the impact on the local community, including the extraordinary work of the Extra Yard for Teachers program, is a great testament to impact of college football. We are extremely grateful to the Indianapolis host committee, Bill Hancock and his entire staff for delivering a first-class experience. We know that they sacrificed incalculable hours with their families and endured many sleepless nights to ensure an exceptional experience for the fans."

Using the national spotlight of the game, the CFP honored Iowa State TE Charlie Kolar, the 2021 recipient of the William V. Campbell Trophy®, airing a video profiling his accomplishments as a scholar-athlete between the first and second quarters on the Jumborton. The CFP also supported the announcement of the 2022 College Football Hall of Fame inductees, featuring interviews with class members Andrew Luck (Stanford) and Roy Williams (Oklahoma) after the official announcement earlier in the day on "Championship Drive Presented by Capital One" on ESPN.

The 2022 class includes LaVar Arrington (Penn State); Champ Bailey (Georgia); Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech); Sylvester Croom (Alabama); Mike Doss (Ohio State); Chuck Ealey (Toledo); Kevin Faulk (LSU); Moe Gardner (Illinois); Boomer Grigsby (Illinois State); Mike Hass (Oregon State); Marvin Jones (Florida State); Andrew Luck (Stanford); Mark Messner (Michigan); Terry Miller (Oklahoma State); Rashaan Salaam (Colorado); Dennis Thomas (Alcorn State); Zach Wiegert (Nebraska); Roy Williams (Oklahoma) and coaches John Luckhardt (Washington & Jefferson [PA], California [PA]); Billy Jack Murphy (Memphis) and Gary Pinkel (Toledo, Missouri).