What I’m about to say, I say with a heavy heart.
College football has ruined bowl season.
It’s not just the fact that we have meaningless after meaningless bowl games. It’s mostly because the college football playoffs have overshadowed everything else. College football got what it wanted when it instituted the playoff system, but at what price?
With the exception of the participating coaches and players who have worked hard to get to the postseason, the other bowl games mean nothing. A big reason for this is ESPN.
Think I am wrong? On Saturday, while Georgia Tech was playing Kentucky in the TaxSlayer Bowl, ESPN cut away to show the ALABAMA BUS LEAVING THE HOTEL FOR THE GEORGIA DOME. Additionally, seemingly every other stop-set during the game promoted Alabama versus Washington and Clemson versus Ohio State. I was watching Florida dismantle Iowa in the Jan. 2 Outback Bowl, and what did the announcers talk about? Yes, Alabama and Clemson. Later, I was watching a great game, USC against Penn State at the Rose Bowl. Every so often an alert would pop up with a graphic promoting the title game on Jan. 9.
So, sorry to all the other teams in the bowl games, your game, on a national level, means nothing. The Rose Bowl? Nothing. The Sugar? Zip. The Outback? Crikey, no!
This season 17 teams got bowl bids with records of .500 and three teams had a losing record. Here’s the deal. No team, NO TEAM should get a bowl bid without a winning record. If you cannot find enough teams with winning records, then you don’t need so many bowl games.
Of course, that will never happen. Bowl games are no longer “games” in the purest sense. They are television shows. It matters not that there were only 35,000 at the Superdome for the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. At Tropicana Field, when Mississippi State met Miami of Ohio, the attendance was 15,000. It only matters that ESPN has live programming. It has become a joke, and a joke with no punchline.
ABC/ESPN/Disney is well-known to run things into the ground. “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” was a popular prime-time game show on ABC until the network ran the thing five nights a week. It didn’t take long for the public to tire of it and Regis Philbin. By the summer of 2002, the show was cancelled and ABC fell off of the top of the heap as the nation’s most watched network.
When Disney bought the Star Wars franchise, all devout fans of the series (including my family) rejoiced. However, it has quickly become apparent that with Rogue One in 2016, Episode 8 being released later this year, the young Hans Solo movie scheduled for 2018 and then Episode 9 coming in 2019, Disney will run that into the ground as well.
I must depart from my rant to say something about the recent Liberty Bowl. The folks in Memphis are to be commended. They did a great job. Our radio booth at the stadium left much to be desired, but the flip side is the bowl game was very well done. I’m sure it’s not easy to organize one of those. It’s an event that lasts all week. Bowl organizers have to have events in place for the team, the families and the media. I’ve been to many games that fell too far short of the goal line. The Liberty Bowl did a damned good job.
I’ve always been told that if you complain about something, then at least offer suggestions for a better way to do it. Sorry, aside from keeping mediocre or losing teams out of bowl games, I don’t know what that is. Unfortunately, as long as television wields its big pocketbook, colleges are going to say “Yes.” I wish, just once, they would say “No.”
There were 40 bowl games on the docket this season, not including the championship game. Only two–the Peach Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl–mattered.
College football has done a great job of oversaturating the product and making most of the games nothing but background noise to the national championship.
It’s a shame.