New Year’s Bowls Mean Nothing Today
Remember when New Year’s Day was a sacred holiday? I do. In the days before cable, my family would gather in the living room, stack television sets on top of each other, and watch multiple bowl games at once. The match-ups were that good; you wouldn’t dare miss any of them.
In the days before you could buy your way into a game on New Year’s day, getting selected to play on this coveted day meant your program had accomplished something. You had just completed a stellar season, and the world would watch as you battled it out against another program that had accomplished something.
As Archie and Edith used to sing, “Those were the days!”
Now the “after New Year’s” bowl season has become a meaningless hodge-podge of games nobody wants to see. Instead of getting a healthy portion of college football meat and potatoes, we’ve been force-fed cotton candy.
Between the ten bowl games on January 1st and 2nd, six teams with 7-5 records disgrace our television screens, not to mention a 6-6. Like a fat, smelly hog in a tea room, these programs don’t belong in a bowl whose game date doesn’t start with “D”.
The problem is, there are just too many dang bowls. Thirty-four to be exact. Meaning 43 teams not good enough to be in the top twenty-five get to go bowling.
I used to think it funny that the NCAA basketball tournament included 64 teams. For some reason that just seemed like a lot to me. And when they added a 65th in a play-in game, I simply scratched my head. But to put it in perspective, FBS college football now has 68 teams that get invited to bowls. That’s 57% of all teams playing what we would call Division 1 football.
What this over-saturation of “bowl worthy” teams does is simply dilute the purity of the bowl pool, polluting the purity of New Year’s day, and beyond. I mean, is anyone really excited about watching Troy and Central Michigan battle it out in the GMAC bowl on January 6th? And how about that display of personal fouls, no discipline, missed tackles and turnovers in the Outback? Anybody pumped about South Florida v. Northern Illinois today? Or Uconn and South Carolina?
Let’s face it. Bowls are not what they used to be, and unless you’re invited to a BCS bowl, or even better, earn your way into the coveted BCS National Championship game, you’re really just playing an early spring game. And excitement about a meaningless win in a meaningless bowl simply lets the world know where your program is.