“Who’s getting hurt by too many?”

Jon Solomon makes a pretty strong case that the conferences have done an excellent job of watering down the bowl season.  Take this year’s pool of participants:

Twenty of the 35 games (57 percent) involve at least one team that qualified with no more than one victory against a winning Football Bowl Subdivision opponent. Cincinnati won nine games while beating one winning FBS team. Six bowl participants didn’t beat a single winning FBS team: Nevada (7-5), East Carolina (8-4), Central Michigan (6-6), Rice (6-6), Vanderbilt (8-4) and Purdue (6-6).

The Boilermakers’ reward for firing their coach and finishing at .500: Playing on New Year’s Day.

Oh, yeah, New Year’s Day.  It used to be special.  Nowadays, not so much.  There’s been a steady devolution of the product.

From 1953 to 2009, no team without a winning overall record ever played on New Year’s Day — or Jan. 2 in years when Jan. 1 bowls moved to avoid NFL Sundays. That’s happened four times in the past four years.

At first, just brand names (Florida State, Florida and Ohio State) invaded New Year’s Day with a 6-6 record. Purdue joins that club this year by playing Oklahoma State (7-5) in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Jan. 1.

At the 2010 Outback Bowl, Auburn became the first team in 62 years to play on New Year’s with a losing conference record. Six more teams have since followed: Northwestern, Texas Tech, Michigan, Florida, Ohio State and now Purdue.

Mississippi State, Purdue and Wisconsin play on New Year’s this season with either a .500 or losing conference record, meaning that’s occurred in 13 of 33 New Year’s bowls over the past six years. That happened in just six of the 221 New Year’s bowls from 1968 to 2007.

This is what the big conferences want.  They had a chance to raise the floor on wins eligibility and took a pass.  They could raise standards any time they want to.  They just don’t want to do that.

“I think when people went back to their conferences, they found out there’s an awful lot of support for 6-6,” Waters said. “That’s probably a comment on the uniqueness of football’s postseason, that with 35 bowls it means at the end of the year we have 35 winners. That’s 35 athletic directors that get a step up on selling season tickets, and 35 coaches who a month later are going out in recruiting and talking about winning the bowl game.”

Now, personally, I don’t mind having 35 games.  But that’s because I love watching college football.  And Lord knows I wouldn’t travel to watch most of those games in person.  The thing is, I have the unsettling feeling that the people in charge mind my attitude less and less.  As more and more TV revenue money floods the system, why should they?

And don’t tell yourself the new playoffs will help stem the tide.  They’ll only devalue the downticket games even more.  As long as we keep watching, though, that shouldn’t matter.  And if we do stop, they’ll just expand the playoffs to get our attention again.

13 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football

13 responses to ““Who’s getting hurt by too many?”

  1. Chopdawg

    So…if I stop watching so many Famous Idaho Potato Bowls, the FBS playoff will expand into something meaningful?

  2. Bob

    Four is enough.

    And maybe we could end some of this charade of teams “earning” a trip to a bowl game if the Conferences and NCAA would put an end to playing these Betty Crocker games that are on the schedule merely to bring in more bucks and ensure a bowl trip. Next year, the defending SEC champs play two, count them…TWO, FCS teams. Sure, 1-11 Georgia State is “transitioning” to FBS, but they ain’t there yet. God help us if Greg McGarity decided to continue going in that direction. A school with the heritage and tradition of Alabama should be ashamed of themselves.

  3. gastr1

    Now you have finally hit on the real reason the coaches are against playoffs. Honestly, considering the pressure to win they’re under, I can’t blame them for being that way.

  4. Macallanlover

    Like you Senator, I don’t mind having the bowls available for watching because I love CFB. If I don’t care to watch, I have hundreds of other viewing options. And I would rather see a 6-6 “name product” than an 11-1 Ball State or Central Michigan play. Draw the line at not having a losing record though, the reward may be a bad bowl location but you are rewarded by getting the extra practices (and let the players being red-shirted play, there is no logical reason to not do so and the players have been practicing since August with no game experience, why not in an exhibition game?)

    My only complaint is the “stacking” of common interest bowls where 4 different games involving SEC teams are on at the same time on New Year’s Day. There is nothing magic about playing in a bowl on that day any longer, several of the better bowls are now played on other dates anyway, so spread those games out. It would certainly be better for advertisers/ratings/fans to play these games in different time slots.

  5. Comin' Down The Track

    My name is Comin’ Down The Track, and I’m a college football addict. I admit, I’m weak. I’ll watch anything that remotely qualifies as college football in December… and now also on into January. I’ve even gotten down on my knees in many a dark alley just to be able to peer into a basement room that had some raunchy fluff filler bowl game playing on a black and white TV partially obscured by the curtains.
    I know it’s a problem. My family has given up. My friends hate the irrational butthat that I’ve become. I watched part of a Division III game the other day for crying out loud! As the days grow shorter each year, I realize that college football season grows shorter simultaneously. Desperation sets in… then depression.

    • Bulldog Joe

      Gettin’ ready to set up the tailgate in my backyard for Thursday’s Poinsettia Bowl. Who’s playin’, again?

      • Cojones

        I can see that intervention is definitely called for in both your cases. Getting started Thurs would fit the old schedule. Exactly what’s in your tailgatin’ and could I get a side order of your address?

        On these occasions I usually tape the danglers to my leg and ixnay on the atchyscray conversation. :) :) :)

    • Dawgfan Will

      Same here, man. I landed on one of the 1AA playoff games the other day, and my wife (who has no use for any football that isn’t UGA) gives me the ol’ “You have got to be freaking kidding me.”

      It’s a sickness.

  6. SCDawg

    I think the playoff people will discover very quickly that enough fans won’t/can’t travel to a conference championship game, a semi-final bowl game, then a NC bowl game-all at neutral sites. Even with the TV revenue, I don’t think it’s sustainable. And that’s with only four teams. So, if you’re like me and you believe we’ll be up to an 8 game playoff before the end of the decade, and likely go to 16 teams 4-5 thereafter, what happens?

    I think they’re going to think about playing playoff games at the schools, NFL style ( I realize some college stadiums shouldn’t host). Then a neutral site NC game. Where do the bowls go then? Does the Sugar start taking the no. 17 versus the no. 18 teams? If they tie getting into the playoff to winning your conference or your division, would LSU or Texas A&M be playing Florida or South Carolina in the Sugar or the Cap One or the Cotton?

  7. Cojones

    The large bowl numbers haven’t been warranted for years, but I happenstanced to view the first two or three car shine bowls last year and they were more competitive and enjoyable than a high percentage played later. There is something that can be said for that being worthwhile, at least from a viewing standpoint.

    Do the Shriners still sponsor a bowl game? Now that’s the type of fun entertainment for your enjoyable money and it’s even better when the proceeds go to a good cause.

  8. Yesterday I actually hit a relative up for some free BBVA Compass Bowl tickets. Don’t take this away from me.