I’m trying to think of a more reasonable thing that Stewart Mandel has written in his Mailbag than this, and I can’t come up with anything.
You’ve presumably read numerous stories about teams losing money by playing in bowls, most notably due to unsold tickets. It’s ridiculous for bowls to expect Florida State fans to pay $120 for the same upper-deck Orange Bowl tickets that are available for $17.50 on StubHub, and then if they don’t, stick the schools with the bill. More reasonably, give the schools a week to sell out their allotment (many this bowl season, including Stanford, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Kansas State, Syracuse, UCLA, Ole Miss and Iowa State, have done just that) before returning the rest, even if that means a lower payout to the team’s respective conference. Or, the conferences should cover ALL expenses, lopping that amount off the top of the overall bowl revenue it divides among its schools. No conference or school actually loses money in the bowl system, but it is true (and ridiculous) that 3-9 Auburn may receive a bigger cut of the SEC’s pie than 11-1 Florida simply because the former had no overpriced Sugar Bowl tickets of its own to unload.
Once you’ve addressed those issues, there’s no remaining downside I can see to having so many bowls. Players get a mini-vacation, $550 in gift swag and an extra month with their teammates. Coaches get the extra practice time and a recruiting bump. Fans of the participants get to go somewhere for the holidays. And the rest of us get three weeks of college football games on TV, which we’ve shown by now that we’ll happily watch.