With bowl season wrapping up, I want to comment on a complaint that I am extremely tired of hearing: There are too many bowl games.

There are only too many bowl games if you don’t like watching college football. If you don’t like the games, don’t watch them. It’s really a simple concept.

Of course then they respond that the proliferation of bowls makes going to a bowl game less meaningful. I’m not sure that I accept that logic. That there was an Emerald Bowl did not make the Rose Bowl less meaningful. Attention is not being diverted from the Orange Bowl because there’s a St. Petersburg Bowl. Bowl games sort themselves out pretty ruthlessly. A team that made the GMAC Bowl does not think “Hey, we made a bowl game just like Ohio State!” Chances are, they’re upset that they didn’t go to the Motor City Bowl or the Liberty Bowl, which is where the teams would go if they were slightly better. A team in the Liberty Bowl would much rather be in a BCS Bowl. A BCS team would rather be in the National Championship Game.

While fans of the top half-dozen teams or so may not care about the Buffalo Bulls making a trip to the Motor City Bowl, fans of Buffalo are ecstatic at having made their first bowl in the history of the program. University of Texas fans lose nothing but University at Buffalo fans get something. Net gain! Notre Dame, who always wants to go to a big bowl or the national championship, got a 9-game, 15-year slump off its back with a victory in the Hawaii Bowl. Vanderbilt went to their first bowl in 26 years and won their first one in over fifty. These are teams that wouldn’t have gone to a bowl a decade ago (except maybe Buffalo), but the looser format gave them a chance they otherwise wouldn’t have had to vindicate their struggling programs.

And play on national television. A lot of these teams, even pretty good ones, can go the entire season without playing a single game on national television almost regardless of how good they are. This gives them that opportunity. It raises their profile just a little and helps them recruit so that maybe they can field better and better teams.

I will confess that part of me looks at some of these teams and has me saying “Does 6-6 Kentucky really deserve to be there? Do they want to?” Well maybe they don’t. It’s worth pointing out, though, that 6-6 teams (which is the worst record a team can have and still go to a bowl game) went 3-2 this bowl season against teams with better records, so it’s possible that they were more excited to be there than the other team was. I just don’t see the harm.

Well, I guess there is one area of concern. When it comes to some of the lower-level teams, there isn’t a whole lot of reason to make these bonus games take place at a neutral location. It’s possible that more people had gone to the game between NC State and Rutgers if it had been held in North Carolina or New Jersey rather than at the Papajohns.com Bowl in Birmingham, Alabama.

Maybe the solution to all this is semantics. Differentiate between teams that deserve to be in bona fide bowls and teams that deserve a little post-season treat. Change the 6-win requirement to 8-wins for bowls. Let teams with 7 or more wins host “Invitationals” where they can play a home game against any team that has either 6 or 7 wins. That way they get an extra game that would probably be televised, Bowl Games can retain some of their prestige, and you won’t have bowls going belly up cause not enough fans were willing to fly half way across the country to watch their less-than-awesome team play. Win-win-win all-around.

Category: Theater

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6 Responses to There Aren’t Too Many Bowls

  1. kevin says:

    Invitationals are a good idea. I must say that I was very proud that my alma mater, the University of Houston, won its first bowl game in 28 years. Yes, it was in the Armed Forces Bowl, but who cares? I’m just glad they got to play and win an extra game. And the bowl game of my other alma mater, the University of Texas, was not diminished in the slightest. (The reason I have two alma maters is that I did my undergrad at UH and law school at UT. Some people feel that you’re only allowed to root for a school’s program if you went there for your undergraduate degree. I never understood the logic behind this. For what it’s worth, on the rare occasions when UH plays UT, I root for UH, partly because it has my primary allegiance, but mostly because it’s the underdog. A win over UT would mean more to UH than a win over UH means to UT.)

  2. Becky says:

    I think there are too many bowl games, but I don’t watch them. Of course, that’s really an issue between Ted and I and not the BCS 🙂

  3. Kirk says:

    “Attention is not being diverted from the Orange Bowl because there’s a St. Petersburg Bowl.”

    I don’t know if it’s just a coincidence, but my school played in the St. Pete bowl. Like your idea for an “invitational” it was local. (I skipped it though, as it was held in a dome made for baseball. That’s just too weird for my tastes.)

    Although there may not be “too many” bowl games, I do think there are so many college football teams in general that the TV market for college football is getting diluted. I’ve never even heard of half the teams I see on t.v.

  4. trumwill says:

    It seems like most attendees of schools with less prominent programs end up rooting for bigger schools with bigger teams. In your case your law school, often the school that family members attended. Sometimes they seem to just pick it out of a proverbial hat! Nothing wrong with rooting for your law school team.

    Not liking to watch football games is a pretty good reason to think that there are too many bowls. Probably the only good reason.

    Bowls seem to me moving towards inviting local teams rather than the pecking-order that they used to use. At least for the smaller schools. So it is sort of like invitationals in that respect. A baseball dome used for football bothers you? Weren’t most of the early domes used for both? As for there being too many teams, less successful teams rarely get played on television. In fact, one of the big deals about bowls for some teams from the Sun Belt Conference and MAC is that bowl games are the only televised games.

  5. Abel says:

    Arizona just showed why the NFL needs a BCS-like system.

  6. trumwill says:

    You bet, Abel!

    No way that a 9-7 should be a conference champ and Superbowl participant just because they had a hot streak at the end of the season. It’s not as bad as that New York Giants team because at least the Cardinals won their division, but still.

    (Actually, I don’t support a BCS-style championship for the NFL. It’s more conducive to a tournament than is the NCAA is. I really do believe, however, that the current system is stupid and needs to be changed and is a good object lesson in the dangers of bloated playoff systems.)

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