Because 32 bowls just aren’t enough

I mentioned yesterday that college football’s powers-that-be have once again decided, in their infinite wisdom, that the BCS is just fine & dandy, and playoffs r teh suxx0rs. But I missed this detail: the NCAA has certified two new bowl games, bringing the total to 34.  Because, as AOL Fanhouse says, "that’s what the nation really wanted."

This means a total of 68 teams will be goin’ bowling. Last year, 71 teams finished with records of 6-6 or better. We’re seriously getting into the territory where, in a given season, there might not be enough bowl-eligible teams to fill out all the slots. I expect we’ll soon see a rule change allowing in teams with 5-7 records if there aren’t enough .500-or-better teams available. (Remember, 6-6 teams have only been allowed in for the last two years, and that change coincided with the expansion from 28 to 32 bowls.)

In any event, 34 bowls means that more than 57 percent of all Division I-A teams will be playing in the postseason. Remember when a bowl bid was actually a meaningful reward for a good year?

Anyway, the new kids on the block are the
Congressional Bowl in Washington, D.C., and the St. Petersburg Bowl in
St. Petersburg, Florida. Mercifully, a 35th bowl — the Rocky Mountain Bowl in Salt Lake City, which would have pitted the fifth-place Mountain West team against the fourth-place WAC team — was rejected.

The St. Petersburg Bowl is still in need of a corporate sponsorship, which gives me an idea. If every college football fan who supports a playoff, and hates the endless proliferation of meaningless bowls between 6-6 teams, were to donate, say, $5, couldn’t we make these folks a sponsorship offer they couldn’t refuse — and force them to name their bowl something like the "Utterly Meaningless St. Petersburg Bowl" or the "St. Petersburg Bowl Brought To You By Shameless Greed" or the "Let’s Have A Freakin’ Playoff Already St. Petersburg Bowl" or the "F***-the-BCS St. Petersburg Bowl"? Cuz that’d be sweet.

Meanwhile, another AOL Fanhouse blogger wonders how on earth USC lost two games (and played poorly in a bunch of other games) each of the last two seasons, given that seven former Trojans were drafted during the first two rounds of the NFL Draft last weekend — which continues a trend of Trojan dominance on Draft Day. It’s a fair question.

23 Responses to “Because 32 bowls just aren’t enough”

  1. David K. says:

    Question: Who does it hurt to have the minor bowls between 6-6 teams?

    I mean really, is it that big a scourge on humanity? Its good for the schools involved, its good for the local economies, its good for the players, its good for the fans, and its not like ESPN puts a gun to your head to make you watch the Welch’s Grape Juice Podunk Bowl or something. Once they start allowing teams with losing records in, then sure, i’d say we crossed the line, but i’m not bothered by the smaller bowls. On top of that alot of them don’t last long anyway, hence the new bowls trying to find a spot. If you didn’t have new bowls popping up over the place you’d start to see fewer and fewer bowls (although thats what you seem to want so maybe its ok ;-) )

  2. Brendan Loy says:

    It’s not a scourge on humanity, but to the extent that the proliferation of bowls is an obstacle to a meaningful postseason that would determine a legitimate champion, it’s a problem. And I think it is indeed an obstacle, albeit perhaps a minor one, because it creates an ever greater number of “vested interests” opposed to a playoff.

    Moreover, the idea that more than 57% of all teams are going to bowls seriously undercuts the argument that OMG The Regular Season Is Sacrosanct. If the regular season is so damn sacrosanct, why are we now at the point where virtually every .500 team will get to participate in the postseason?

    Last but not least, it’s yet another example of how the college football powers-that-be are a bunch of greedy, hypocritical bastards who are far more interested in profits than in creating a system that is good for the fans, creates interesting matchups, or in any way advances the interests of the sport itself. Oh yes, and this means four more sets of “student-athletes” will have postseason practices, etc., messing with their final exams. Did I mention “hypocritical bastards”?

    As for your comment “Once they start allowing teams with losing records in, then sure, i’d say we crossed the line” … well, I’d say we’re racing toward that line. As I mentioned in a paragraph that I just added to the post, last year only 71 teams were bowl-eligible. There are now 68 spots to be filled… perhaps soon to be 70, if the Rocky Mountain Stormin’ Mormon Bowl pretties up its application and gets approved next year. I expect we’ll see an update to the bowl-eligibility rules stating that a 5-7 team can be selected if no .500 or above teams are available. Otherwise, it’s entirely possible, if the cards fall just right, that we could have too many bowls and not enough teams.

  3. David K. says:

    Brendan you are confusing post-season play that determines a champion (ala playoffs) with football postseason. None of those games changes that the regular season is what matters in leading to the championship. Not a single one of those teams factors in to that argument.

    As for postseason practices, having participated in football, having a father who played college ball, and being involved (through the band) with the football team, i gaurentee you that the kids are more than willing to put in the extra work during postseason, for most of them, college ball is the LAST time they will ever play football. Ever. This isn’t like baseball or tennis or any other sport where you can keep doing it your whole life. Football is one of the few sports where there is no afterlife so to speak. As for messing with their final exams, it never hurt those of us in band who also have a significant tiem investment (3 hours 4 days a week plus game days, some more some less depending on school). Exams could be protoctored on the trip, although most occured during break, and study help is available to all students. How is that any different than a job or activity which cuts into your “study” time. If you can’t learn to manage your studies you’ll get off the team due to grades anyway.

    I realize your lust for a college football playoff is on par with your love of Joe Lieberman, but I’m sorry, I fail to see how the current system is hurting the fans or the game. A playoff creates as much trouble as it fixes. We allready have March Madness for basketball, we don’t need it for football.

  4. Brendan Loy says:

    My point re: exams isn’t that I think it’s a problem, it’s that the college-football powers are being hypocritical and dishonest, because they always cite “academic concerns” as a reason for not having a playoff, yet are totally unconcerned about those same concerns in other contexts, where they can earn more profits without upsetting anyone’s vested interests.

    I will agree with you on one point, though. You say, “We already have March Madness for basketball, we don’t need it for football.” I totally agree. Any college football playoff should not extend into March. :P

  5. Brendan Loy says:

    P.S. Also, I appreciate that you refrained from describing my feelings for Joe Lieberman as “lust.” ;)

  6. Sandy Underpants says:

    A bowl bid is still a meaningful reward to end a great season, and the St. Petersburg Bowl is a great opportunity for Notre Dame football to end their 15 year streak of not winning a bowl game. Why just imagine the adjulation on Irish fans faces as “Golden Arm” Jimmy Clausen and Charlie Weis hoist that coveted and glorious St. Petersburg Bowl trophy, made out of glued macoroni and molded into the shape of the great state of Florida, high above their heads, it will be the greatest moment in Notre Dame football since they almost beat Michigan St. at home 3 years prior.

    Now I’m really excited about CFB. Fans we’re only 120 days away from the start of the season, and the push for Petersburg!

  7. Marty West says:

    The Congressional Bowl will feature one of the service academies and will be played around Thanksgiving. Should be a pretty decent turnout at least.

  8. Brendan Loy says:

    Heh.

    It’s unlikely ND would ever get selected for the St. Pete Bowl, because the Irish will always end up in the highest-tier bowl for which they are technically eligible, regardless of how many better teams are also eligible for the same spot. (This is a big part of the reason why ND always loses bowl games. Because the bowls only care about money, not competitive balance, the Irish are frequently selected by a bowl one tier higher than they “should” be, and thus play an opponent one caliber better than they “should.”) Thus, for instance, an 8-4 Irish team will always get picked ahead of a 9-3 Big East team, as the contract allows this. (It does not, however, allow them to be picked ahead of a 10-2 Big East team.)

    But I suppose it’s possible. If they finish 6-6, and there are six Big East teams with records of 7-5 or better, but only one BCS team from the Big East, I don’t think any of the other Big East bowls would be allowed to pick the Irish, under NCAA rules. So, in that case, they would indeed end up in St. Pete.

  9. Brendan Loy says:

    “will be played around Thanksgiving”

    WTF??

    So much for “post”-season.

  10. Brendan Loy says:

    Nope: “The Congressional Bowl will take place Dec. 20”

  11. Marty West says:

    I stand corrected.

  12. Marty West says:

    I must have misheard Wilbon yesterday on PTI.

    Wither way it will be a decent money maker. Service academy vs an ACC team. DC is close to Naptown so the turnout would be high at least.

  13. Mad Max, Esquire says:

    The Congressional Bowl will take place in RFK or Nationals Park? What is it with people trying to use baseball fields as football fields for bowl games (see Emerald Bowl)? Are we back to the NFL in the 1940s?

  14. B. Minich says:

    Well, RFK is a football/soccer stadium. It was originally a dual purpose football/baseball stadium, although after the Senators left years ago, it was pretty much only used by the ‘Skins. Its also a horrible baseball stadium (trust me, I’ve been there for baseball), which is why the Nats moved out in the first place.

    Now, I agree that holding a bowl at Nationals Stadium makes no sense. My guess is that the stadium is a nicer facility (RFK is old and crumbly) that they can actually get closer to full for a bad bowl. FedEx Field, current home of the ‘Skins, is the largest field in the NFL, and seats over 90,000. If you put the bowl in there, it will not be anywhere NEAR full, and that’s something the promoters probably don’t want. (Plus, scheduling conflicts with the current tenant also reduce the viability of using FedEx field.)

  15. Brendan Loy says:

    Either way it will be a decent money maker. Service academy vs an ACC team.

    In all likelihood, it won’t be an ACC team. The ACC has never produced nine bowl-eligible teams. Admittedly, they’ve only been a 12-team league for a few years, so that’s not a huge statistical sample, but having three-quarters of your teams go .500 is a tall order. And, if they were ever good enough to pull it off, there’s a decent chance they’d have two BCS teams, in which case the Congressional Bowl wouldn’t get an ACC team unless the league had ten bowl-eligible teams.

    Most years, the Congressional Bowl will end up with a team from its “back-up” league, the MAC. Last year, that would’ve been 6-6 Ohio, the only bowl-eligible MAC team that didn’t go dancing.

    Also, the “service academy” thing depends on a service academy going 6-6. More specifically, it apparently depends on a specific service academy, selected in advance each year, going 6-6. According to the Post article, “Army has agreed to play in the 2009 game.” So apparently the 2008 contract is specifically with Navy, the 2009 contract is specifically with Army, etc. There’s a pretty good chance Navy will go 6-6 or better; they usually do. But Army usually doesn’t.

    If the pre-selected service academy doesn’t make it, then I’m not sure what happens — maybe the MAC is the first fallback option in either case, and if both ends of the contract fail (no available ACC team, and the pre-selected service academy isn’t eligible), then it’s a MAC team vs. a random at-large bowl team? That’d be my guess.

    If that’s right, then instead of something like Navy vs. Maryland, the Congressional Bowl could end up with something like Buffalo vs. Troy. W0000T!!!!

    (Actually, I would totally consider driving up to D.C. for that game, if I were still in Knoxville. But I’m freakin’ weird.)

  16. B. Minich says:

    Navy vs. Maryland would probably get a good turnout, if it ever happened. Probably won’t.

  17. Brendan Loy says:

    By the way… this conversation illuminates another reason why this endless proliferation of bowls is bad for college football. It encourages mid-level teams from leagues like the ACC to schedule patsies. If you’re a team with no realistic hopes at a national title, why bother to play anyone good in your non-conference schedule, when you can schedule a Division I-AA team, three bad I-A teams, win two of your eight conference games (or maybe just one, if the anticipated 5-7 rule is passed), and go to a bowl??

    Of course, this occasionally backfires, when a team that was expected to be “mid-level” becomes unexpectedly good. (See: Kansas and UConn last year.) Then the attempt to “schedule for a bowl berth” ends up hurting your BCS chances, not to mention leaving you unprepared to face real competition. (See, West Virginia spanking UConn; but cf., Kansas beating Virginia Tech.)

    But regardless, it’s not something the NCAA should be encouraging.

  18. Sandy Underpants says:

    I’m in favor of the two worst teams playing each other in the Tidy Bowl and the loser actually gets the Trophy. But, since these are a bunch of ‘kids’ playing football I guess it would be in poor taste or poor sportsmanship or something like that, but it would make money.

  19. Brendan Loy says:

    Heh. That’d be awesome.

  20. Marty West says:

    I agree with you Brendan. A 5-7 team, or for that matter a 6-6 team, has no place in a bowl game.

    The argument that it builds school spirit and morale is bullshit too. Wouldn’t it be a better morale booster if they didn’t give bowl invites away like candy and your team reached the bowl based on their merits on the field?

  21. dcl says:

    I say we bump it up to 65 bowls, that way every team in Div I-A gets to go.

  22. B. Minich says:

    Ahhh, but Cupcakes served their purpose! Coach Mangino said so!!