Bowls, Bowls, and more Bowls!
I have to admit that I too used to be down on the seemingly infinite number of bowls the FBS has expanded to over the last 15 years. Yes, there are 40 bowls meaning that 80 of 130 teams will play in a postseason game and that percentage of participants in an extra game is extremely high. The revolving door of sponsors and preposterous bowl names make it easy to mock the system; I get that.
Side note: My favorite official game names this year: 1- The Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl, 2- College Football Playoff at the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual, 3- Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl (which I wrote about last Thursday).
What are the main gripes with so many bowl games?
1- There are too many bowls.
Rebuttal: To that I would say “Nobody is making you watch them all.” College football is very regional and the odds of any one person being interested in all these games isn’t very high; they know this. But what’s wrong with there being more bowl festivities during the holidays? Our favorite shows are all on hiatus any way. At least with live sports we’re getting some original content during the holidays.
2- With so many bowls, teams that probably didn’t earn a postseason berth get to participate.
Rebuttal: Yes, teams that finished 6-6 are regularly rewarded with a trip to play in a bowl game, but I think you have to look at it as a chance for other programs to get in on the additional media exposure offered by these games. If we go back to the old system and only 20 or so teams get a bowl game, the rich just keep getting richer. What if the next great Northern Illinois football star is a 16 year old sitting on his couch watching the Quick Lane Bowl right now? Can you live with yourself if he never gets a D1 scholarship because he wasn’t adequately inspired? Ok, fine I admit that’s a stretch.
3- The diluted bowl schedule gives rise to lousy games that are talent mismatches or feature a team that doesn’t care about the contest.
Rebuttal: This is a hard one to refute because we definitely see teams every year who barely bother to show up for their obscure bowl game because they thought they were going to be playing in something more prestigious. I admit it’s a problem if the only question surrounding a game is “which team wants to be here more?” I would counter, however, by saying that we have to accept the bad with the good. Often the lesser known bowls bring us terrific competition, spotlight names from smaller programs who we’ll be seeing on Sundays soon, and provide us cool match ups that would never happen otherwise. If the players or coaches can’t get up for the bowl they accepted, shame on them, but I don’t think we should punish all the grateful players and coaches who make the most of the opportunity.
In closing, I would like to exhort you to watch some of the games this week. Wednesday through Saturday we get at least four games per day so pop one on while you’re pretending to work this week. Maybe you’ll be sucked in by a charismatic star you have never heard of. Maybe you’ll see a thrilling 3OT game where the teams combine for 140 points. Wild things happen in college football and it adds an x-factor you won’t won’t see on Sundays. Most of this stuff is on ESPN, but the complete listings can always be found with our friends at 506sports.com.
Happy Bowl Season Everyone!