9 Reasons The NCAA Should Cut Back On The Bowl Games
It’s January 2 as I write this, and I’m beat. I can’t handle any more college football, despite the fact that the most important games are starting just now. The droning chant “we don’t need/want this many bowl games,” is almost as obnoxious as the actual number of bowl games, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. College football is my favorite sport, and I can’t handle so many games, and neither can the sport.
I’ll tell you why…
It used to be that the lower-tier bowl games were more important to the fans and host cities than they were to the sponsors. That seems like a long time ago. It used to be that the Poulan Weedeater Independence Bowl was a punchline among the bowl games. Now names like that are the gold standard. Sure, you’re getting money for schools, which is good, I guess, but at the expense of the sanctity of the game. I don’t want to sound like a traditionalist weirdo, but since the names won’t move to the back burner, let’s at least reduce the number of games that shove them down our throat.
9. They Looking Even More Whorish Than Usual These Days
As we have seen in the past few years, select few conferences are getting bigger. More teams in a conference has increased the need for the conferences to host their own internal conference championship games, like the Pac-12 did this year. We get to see two of the best teams in each conference square off for something important, meaning we don’t really need to see the conference runner-up slum it in the Wendy’s Baconator Bowl a month later. Really. We don’t.
There’s about a month of downtime for teams playing in BCS bowls. Fine. Cool. Whatever. They’re important, and worth the wait. But what about waiting three-and-a-half weeks for two unranked teams to square off? They can’t do it earlier because these bowls require preparation by the fans for travel plans and whatnot. But why make the players keep playing football for three weeks, just to play in a worthless bowl that doesn’t matter? Scrap it.
7. The Lull
This is the Independence Bowl a few days ago. Yikes. There’s no need to keep this around. And don’t listen to complaints that this is an “off-year.” BCS advocates claim that bowl games serve as the playoffs. No playoff game should ever look like this.
6. Because Some Of Them Look Like This
Bowl games have served as a white noise that start in mid-December and doesn’t finish now until mid-January (seriously, mid-January?). You could argue that at least the games are spread out now, so that fans can watch them, rather than just be inundated with dozens of games on one day. Well, that argument is crap. When the games are piled high and deep on one day, the viewer gets an orgy of football for one glorious day, then as soon as it began, it’s over, with a national champion crowned. Sure, it doesn’t make money because people can only watch one game at a time, but it served the sport better. If you want to hide the bowl games on FX at 10 PM on Jan 1st, I’ve got no complaints, but when ESPN carries them all month, it cheapens the sport.
5. Because Money Isn’t Everything
Sure, this is similar to #’s 5 and 3, but the fact remains that I have watched only a fraction of the offerings made available to me thus far, and I couldn’t care less about what happens in the BCS games. I’m sick of football. I’ve watched meaningless college games since Thanksgiving, and I’ve watched two weeks of (largely) meaningless NFL games. The college football season has in recent years ended with a whimper. I can only take so much of a good thing. It’s not difficult. Cull the bad/unimportant games and you’ll probably see a LOT more investment in the big games.
A bowl game should mean something. But with 70 teams all receiving bids (see next item), the concept of a bowl has gone from “distinguished reward” to “something we give to all but the very worst teams,” and it’s hurt the game. Not a lot, but a little. Sure, the BCS Championship game will get more prestige and coverage than that Beef O’Brady thing, but the fact that they’re both “bowls” is an insult to the structure the NCAA has in place right now. The NIT doesn’t muck up the NCAA tourney because they’re separate entities. Not so in football, where the bowls are just an unholy mess of commerce after you get done with the BCS bids.
3. It Dilutes The Importance Of The “Real” Bowls
That’s right. Bama and LSU will be the 69th and 70th teams to duke it out in a bowl game this year. Do we really need 70 teams to keep track of in the postseason? This isn’t college basketball, where small schools can field a program. Small football schools don’t do well, and aren’t fun to watch in bowls. Sure, the argument can be made that they’re fun to watch, but “fun to watch” ain’t enough. TV stations, analysts and fans are all going snow blind trying to keep track of bowls that hover around us like houseflies. Simplify our lives and let’s not give out bowl berths like so many YMCA “Spirit Award” trophies.
2. Because 70 Teams Shouldn’t Get Rewarded
I put a question mark after this one because it represents wishful thinking more than it does the actual state of affairs. A sixteen-team bowl week would result in fifteen bowl games of varying importance. That’s puh-lenty. You want to keep the bowl games? Fine. Keep all of them, with many serving an NIT-like significance to those teams that didn’t make the sweet sixteen. But you know what? NO ONE will watch them. Because 15 bowls is more than enough.