Good piece from Pete Thamel exploring the decision of players like Fournette and McCaffrey to pass on playing in bowl games in an era when there doesn’t seem to be an end to expanding the pool. And why is that? C’mon, you know why.
That corporate sprawl offered another reminder—if you needed one—just how much cash is at stake. There’s a reason ESPN televises 38 of the 41 games and owns and operates 13 of them. There’s a reason that 27 of the 41 bowl games didn’t exist 30 years ago.
In a suite high above FAU Stadium during the second quarter, American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco recalled his time as an executive at CBS when they televised an Indiana-Butler game in 2012 that ended in an overtime upset of the No. 1 Hoosiers. Aresco was thrilled until he saw the Gildan New Mexico Bowl—between Arizona and Nevada—crush it in the ratings by 1.9 to 1.5. “That’s when I realized,” he said, “football had become king.”
If you’re ESPN, December is berry, berry good to you.
But bowl games have undeniably become the December background noise at your company holiday party, your December treadmill sprints and those cold nights when the Potato Bowl is more comforting than leaving the couch. Americans like watching football, as evidence by the 2015 Russell Athletic Bowl—between non-traditional powers Baylor and North Carolina—doing the same rating (2.6) as the top-rated regular season college basketball (UNC-Duke) last year. The December bowl orgy is annually one of the most flush ratings runs for ESPN every year…
Forget school spirit. What about us couch potatoes on a cold weekday night needing the kind of fix only the Boca Raton Bowl can provide?
So, remember, kids — at least those rare and few of you gifted enough to have a chance to play on Sundays while being relegated to a lower-tier exhibition game for one last hurrah — if you’re not motivated to stick around for your teammates and dear old U, do it for all the college football junkies out there. Otherwise, we’ll be stuck watching meaningless regular season college basketball games. The horror!
ESPN and its advertisers are counting on you. Don’t let them down.