Saturday, December 18, 2021

There Should be MORE Bowl Games, Not Fewer

Keep 'em coming!

I used to be you. I used to think that there were too many bowls. Heck, I even wrote about it right here saying all bowl matchups should be decided by the CFB Playoff Committee and that every bowl game should be required to feature at least one team from the top 30 of the rankings. And heck, I STILL feel that way. But I also have a counter-argument that makes more sense.

You see, whenever somebody proposes eliminating bowls, you know who gets screwed if it actually happens? The little guy. The school that never goes to bowl games. There will always be bowl games for Alabama and Clemson and Ohio State and Notre Dame and Oklahoma and you know, the big bads of college football.

We see 42 bowl games on the schedule and think "that's too many." But this isn't like the NFL where it's the same 32 teams playing 16 games every week, or the NBA where the Lakers are on national TV three times a week even though they suck. There are 84 different division one football programs playing a bowl game this year and they each get their stand-alone moment. Boise State gets their moment, UTEP gets their moment, Eastern Michigan gets their moment, Old Dominion gets their moment. Unless they're in the playoff, even the big bads only get one bowl game each.

This is why I've changed my mind about the bowl situation. For instance, UTEP is playing in the New Mexico Bowl. It is, shall we say, not the greatest bowl game of the 42 on the schedule. But this is just UTEP's 2nd bowl since 2010. They get to play in a bowl game. When you put it like that, it sounds a lot cooler, no matter what the bowl game is. There are plenty of UTEP football players who can't say that. For a lot of these dudes it will be the apex of their college football career, even if the stands are far from full and the result may not be great for them. 

And you want to take that away? You want to take away the bowl experience of one of the directional Michigan schools? Both Eastern and Western are in bowl games this year, they are a combined 2-14 in bowls. Eastern Michigan's only bowl win was the 1987 California Bowl (Anaheim Stadium) where they beat San Jose State. Western Michigan's only bowl win was the 2015 Bahamas Bowl against Middle Tennessee. Man, these guys deserve more chances at bowl games, not fewer.

A cheesy classic

We make fun of bowl games. We make fun of the fact that they had to create a bowl game for this year because more teams finished at .500 than expected and the bowl game they created, that will only happen once, is called the Frisco Football Classic and that is the truth. We make fun of early sponsored games like the Poulan Weed-Eater Independence Bowl (it's now the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl), and we make fun of the Liberty Bowl being in Memphis and I always point out that the Liberty Bowl started in Philadelphia and moved to Memphis and kept the same name and doesn't make that more sense and as long as you're making fun of the Liberty Bowl keeping that name may I point you to the Lakers once again?

But you know that if you ever met someone who played in the Frisco Football Classic or the Poulan Weed-Eater Independence Bowl or the Liberty Bowl (sponsored by AutoZone, by the way), you'd be like "oh, that's cool, you played in a bowl game!" (I am assuming you do not know any people who played college football, FYI). Now imagine you met an alum from Eastern Michigan football and when you asked them about their college career they said "Well we only went over .500 once and didn't go to a bowl because that was the year they eliminated 10 bowls... and (big bad having a bad year) took our spot so I never played in a bowl game."

Now, don't you think that Eastern Michigan lineman deserves his bowl game? Doesn't the Ball State punter or the Middle Tennessee safety or the UTEP tight end deserve his bowl game? Of course they do.   

Besides, you know what's better than watching a traditional college football powerhouse win a bowl game? A traditional college football powerhouse stumbling its way through a season and then getting thumped if they are fortunate enough to make a bowl game, even if it's a bad one. Can you imagine the buildup if Texas or USC made a bowl game this year? 

Heck, you don't have to. This year's Florida team is a perfect example. Despite wasting a boatload of talent and firing their coach and looking like they had no business finishing anywhere close to .500, they finished 6-and-6, and so they have stumbled their way to the Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa where they will get thumped by UCF. LSU might be a better example, they're so bad they're playing in the bowl that's stupid enough to be played after New Year's Day but isn't a playoff game. But I guarantee you the hype for that game- because it's LSU- will be abnormally large. 

(Side note: if you scroll back far enough here, you'll see I used to do bowl previews for every game with a guest poster called "B.O.A.". We had a special category designation of bowl games that seemed like bigger cash grabs than usual. These were bowls that included teams from very close to the area and the matchup seemed like it should be happening during the regular season, not a bowl game. This year's Gasparilla Bowl most certainly qualifies as one of those cash grab bowls, as it is less than two hours from each team's campus.)

It's a Fiesta (Bowl Parade)!

Whether it's a Power Five Team or a mid-major making their first bowl appearance in years, these players get treated like kings at whatever bowl game they go to. We just see the televised portion of the bowl game. I promise you, every host committee makes sure both teams feel like royalty the week they are in town. The teams are paraded around, taken to what are considered awesome local landmarks and sites, and they are given free meals and swag. Is it always tremendous swag? Of course not. But it is swag selected especially for them by people who are glad they are in their city. Which is a lot better treatment than I've received on certain vacations that I have paid for. 

I only participated in one bowl game as a member of my school's marching band. I was in the town where the bowl was played for a week and there was a pep rally every day where the marching band was required to play. By the end of day six, did I recognize half the people at the rallies? Of course. But I noticed the rally crowds growing in anticipation of the game every time. Sure, the stands at the game may have been half empty, but there were at least five thousand alumni from each side in those stands. 

I also live in a large metro area that hosts a bowl game. Now, this bowl game has never been held in a full stadium. And I reckon that most of the locals don't know what day or time the game is. But a bowl game doesn't need all three million people to know what the hell is going on, it needs the fans of the participating teams to show up and do fan things. You get five thousand each, you're going to do just fine.  

 And remember when you're watching, you're watching a football player who gets to say they played in a bowl game. They may never play football again. They may never play football for a team this good ever again. But they did this time. Keep the bowls. All of them. Well, maybe not the Frisco Football Classic. 

but yes, the Sun Bowl stays!

1 comment:

  1. errr .... North Carolina vs. South Carolina in Charlotte in the Belk .... errr .... Mayo Bowl anyone?