Sunday, December 23, 2007

Bowl Games Suck!!

I used to enjoy watching bowl games back in my child hood days when they were a bit simpler. Bowls started in mid-December, played through the New Year's holiday and then the polls decided who won the title based on who got more votes. It might not have been simpler, but the BCS and the current college bowl picture have made it more complicated to understand what's going on.

Now each bowl game has a corporate sponsor attached to their game, and conference tie-ins to ensure that some teams get picked for a bowl game. The process guarantees that a team from a specific conference will show up, unless that conference doesn't have a team available. Some bowls take specific teams, like the Poinsetta Bowl that says if Navy wins 6 games, they play there no matter what. And then the BCS ensures that bowl games will go on through the first week of January to decide a championship that is determined by polls and computers.

College football should have a playoff, and there's no compelling reason otherwise. Guys missing classes at school? Uh, every other division of the NCAA that plays football has a playoff system where they play games every week for up to 5 weeks. Tradition is important? Uh, the BCS hosed that with the play in game and the times that the Rose Bowl has teams other than the Pac 10 and Big 10 there. People don't want it? Believe me, the fans want it cause it could be an ultimate fan experience. It would cost too much money to set up? Not really, and the revenue generated now would pale in comparison to what a playoff would generate.

It's simply the greed of the NCAA, the corporate sponsors, TV and the schools that keep this from happening. This time of year, bowl games are all over the TV, and so TV might not want less games to broadcast. Corporate sponsors want essentially a 4 hour commercial for themselves, which is really what a bowl game is. I mean really, bowls like the Independence Bowl had some history behind then, but what history is associated with the Meineke Car Bowl? The schools and the NCAA get the funds from games now through their conference affiliations and TV, so there's no incentive to make a change there. As they've said, the fans like the system as is.

As a fan, I don't like it at all. A 16 game playoff makes sense, and since your BCS thing makes for a top 16 and the criteria is as objective as it can be, use it. The top 8 seeds host the bottom, and then you play down over a 4 to 6 week period starting in mid December. The bowls could be used as hosts for the later playoff games to ensure a neutral site, and other bowls could be used as rewards for teams that didn't make the top 16. Right now, there's 33 bowls so there is plenty of opportunity here. It's just if someone wants to make a change. Right now, the money is just too big to encourage a change.

But really, should money be the deciding factor here? Just because a team has money and can guarantee a number of tickets sold or fans there means it's a better option for a bowl than somebody else? I mean, I always thought that deciding a champion was done on the field, not in the pocket books. The potential of a meaningful playoff system would be amazing, but right now, the ears of the people in charge are listening to the jingle of money and the hum of TVs watching their product.

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