IRVING, Texas (Jan. 12, 2017) – 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 Third Annual CFP National Championship along with the Tampa Bay Organizing 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. “Executive Director Bill Hancock and his outstanding staff have truly built something special, notching their third year of remarkable events. The CFP National Championship has quickly become 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 third time that they have transformed an entire region, highlighting everything right with our great game as well as the local flare.
“I would also like to commend the CFP Board of Managers on their decision to extend Bill’s contract for an additional three years. He had done a truly phenomenal job in launching the CFP, and we look forward to continue to work with him in the years to come.”
A sold-out crowd of 74,512 fans, a record for Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., witnessed Clemson’s (14-1) thrilling 35-31 win against Alabama (14-1) with the final touchdown coming with one second left on the clock. The game produced the eighth best audience in cable television history, averaging a total live audience of 26,029,000 viewers with a 15.3 combined overnight rating, according to ESPN and Nielsen. It was the most-watched cable program since last year’s CFP Championship on Jan. 11, 2016. ESPN has now aired the nine most-watched programs in the history of cable television with the College Football Playoff holding each of the top three spots.
The CFP worked closely with the Tampa Bay Organizing Committee (TBOC), led by Executive Director Rob Higgins. The TBOC headed the fundraising effort to host the game and the accompanying events in the Tampa Bay region, which culminated with the big game on Monday night. Their efforts paid off with a first-class experience for fans, which highlighted the region as a world-class destination. Volunteers, affiliated companies and organizations, both locally in Tampa and from across the country, all came together to produce a memorable week of events.
“All of our sport’s stakeholders are thrilled, and the NFF was honored and ecstatic to be a part of it,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “The interest in college football continues to soar, and we are extremely grateful to Bill Hancock and his staff for setting the bar at the highest of levels. We know that they sacrificed incalculable hours with their families while enduring many sleep-shortened nights to bring a first-class product to 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 Reid Sigmon, Senior Director of Communications and Brand Management Gina Lehe, Senior Director of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships Alfred White, CFPFoundation Executive Director Britton Banowsky; directors Laila Brock, Allison Doughty, Nikki Epley, Wes Gentry, Ryan Allen Hall and Jason Sabatino; controller Tim Frick; coordinators Claudia Dorsey, Ben Habren, Lauren Lanier, Courtney Stanford, Rijo Walker and Allyson Wilker; interns Lindsey Lejeune, Jakob Gutierrez, Chante Freeman, Billy Barnes, Caroline Palmer and Olivia Mitchell; and the many volunteers brought from across the country.
The NFF worked with the CFP staff to stage several major events leading up to the third edition of the CFP National Championship. The events included the induction of NFL COO Tod Leiweke into the NFF Leadership Hall of Fame on Jan. 5; the announcement of the 2017 College Football Hall of Fame Class from the field on Jan. 9 at Raymond James Stadium, which aired live on ESPN during SportsCenter and included the participation of Coach Steve Spurrier (Florida and South Carolina); the involvement of members of the newly announced Hall of Fame Class during the coin toss of the title game, including Peyton Manning (Tennessee) and Spurrier; and the recognition of 2016 William V. Campbell Trophy recipient Zach Terrell, the First Team Academic All-America QB from Western Michigan, on the field between the first and second quarters of the title game.
The NFF would like to provide a special thanks to the members of the host committee for the NFF Leadership Hall of Fame induction for Tod Leiweke, which included Paul Avery (World of Beer CEO and President), the Honorable Bob Buckhorn (Mayor of Tampa), Bryan Glazer (Tampa Bay Buccaneers Co-Chairman), Ken Hagan (Hillsborough County Commissioner), Ken Jones (Third Lake Capital CEO), Kathleen Shanahan (Ground Works Solutions Chairman) and Jeff Vinik (Tampa Bay Lightning Owner).
“The celebration in Tampa Bay was just spectacular the past seven days, and the region rolled out the red carpet in style for the college football nation,” said Hatchell. “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.”
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