This NOT just in: The bowl ’system’ stinks worse than ever

Beating the worst UGA team in 15 years is cause to wave the flag. (AP photo)

Was beating the worst UGA team in 15 years really cause to wave the flag? (AP photo)

Today is Jan. 4, 2011. The 2010 college football season still has six days to run.

Of the 35 bowls — that’s correct; there are 35 bowls — six remain to be played. Among these are the Sugar Bowl (tonight) and the Cotton Bowl (Friday night), and then there’s the BCS title game next Monday. Put another way, the NFL, which completed its regular season only Sunday, will have eliminated four playoff teams before college football crowns its still-rather-mythical national champion.

The BCS title game should be a dandy. Well, shouldn’t it? Neither Auburn nor Oregon will have played in 36 days. As we know, there are those who complain about the two-week layoff the NFL imposes before its Super Bowl. In its infinite wisdom, college football has created a five-week layoff. (This is the same college football that argues a playoff system would be too long and taxing for its student-athletes.)

The point being: There’s no “infinite wisdom” when it comes to the bowl system. There are only a slew of bowls who exist not to enhance the sport writ large but to make money for its famous sponsors. (Such as BBVA Compass, which is a Southern-based “financial institution” of which this correspondent, who has lived in Atlanta since 1984, had never heard until it sponsored a bowl in Birmingham. That bowl is one among many you need a compass to find.)

Yet another tiny example of how the bowl “system” fails: Three SEC teams were slotted into  New Year’s Day games. All three were played in the state of Florida; two began at 1 p.m., the other at 1:30. You’d think the SEC might protect its teams from playing against one another through its bowl “alliances,” but this conference, like all conferences, cares about nothing about presentation or the average fan who might want to watch the SEC reps play without benefit of TiVo. Once the deals have been struck and the conference membership has banked its bowl money, the bowls are free to do as they like.

Back to that not-so-magic number: Thirty-five bowls require 70 teams. There are 120 schools that play in the FBS. You don’t have to be a winning team to wangle a bowl invitation. (Ask Georgia or Georgia Tech. Or Kentucky. Or Tennessee.) You don’t even have to rank in the upper half of the FBS, which stands for Football Bowl Subdivision, which gives you some idea of how powerful the bowls are. You can be 6-6, which is the utter definition of mediocrity, and still “reap” a postseason “reward” — even if it’s a trip to Shreveport.

I know, I know. You’ve heard it all before. Heck, I’ve said it all before. But nobody in power ever listens, and no change, at least no change for the better, is ever effected. College football used to climax on or about New Year’s. Now everyone has long since gone back to work by the time the BCS sorts out its winner, and even those three letters — B and C and S — are toxic.

Because the B comes first. It stands for “bowl.” The C stands for “championship.” It’s but a secondary concern. All that really matters is preserving a “system” wherein nondescript games can proliferate with no concern for merit. All that matter are the almighty bowls.

By Mark Bradley

209 comments Add your comment

rawdawg

January 4th, 2011
10:26 am

Mark Bradley

January 4th, 2011
10:28 am

rawdawg starts a new run in a new year. Kudos.

Goldenrod

January 4th, 2011
10:30 am

Just like GT in the ACC in 2011, FIRST!

matt r

January 4th, 2011
10:30 am

This is why I’ve been boycotting watching bowl games this year. I assume they are only making money on the TV contracts and I am doing my part to devalue those contracts.

Mark Richt won with Donnan players and BVG.

January 4th, 2011
10:36 am

And UGA stinks too….

Toe b

January 4th, 2011
10:37 am

the peach bowl in atlanta stadium………

Mark Bradley

January 4th, 2011
10:37 am

A good thought, matt r. But if a conference cared only about ratings, why would the SEC have three teams playing at the same time?

Old School

January 4th, 2011
10:37 am

Move all the bowls back to January 1 and then have a “Plus One” NC game.

dtanner

January 4th, 2011
10:37 am

damn,just missed being first for the first time ever

Mark Richt won with Donnan players and BVG.

January 4th, 2011
10:38 am

Whatever happened to the Poulan weedeater bowl? I like watching them fall out of the sky !

Lowcountry Bulldawg

January 4th, 2011
10:39 am

The bowl system is terrible to watch. Kentucky and Pitt are STILL left to play? Who is watching that crap? I am to the point of ready for it to all be over with college football. This season has really made me enjoy the Pro’S much more. I at least know for sure they are all getting paid and the level of competition is much more evenly matched. College football is in danger of losing traction if corrective steps are not taken. The NCAA has gotten to big for its britches and it is time for fans to take a stand against the corruption that is taking place.

jhughes

January 4th, 2011
10:40 am

your right mark i wish there was someway to stop it but i dont think there is a way right now

Old Dawg

January 4th, 2011
10:40 am

This is so simple, it’s stupid. Sixteen-team playoffs with the conference champions and at large bids. Teams with 7 and 8 wins make the bowls. Everything’s over by New Year’s Day.

The NCAA sponsors playoffs for 1-AA, Div. II, Div. III, but not D-I. How does that make sense?

The sacred cow of the current bowl system is completely busted. UConn in a BCS bowl? That’s like Lithuania or Uganda at the G8 Summit.

A Division I playoff will make so much money, the college presidents, the NCAA will love it. If the Big 10 doesn’t want to participate, who cares – they can’t compete in the big games anymore. If you don’t believe it, check out its bowl record this year … I really think it’s time the entire league moved to 1-AA!

Get ‘er done!

Mark Richt won with Donnan players and BVG.

January 4th, 2011
10:41 am

As a matter of fact whatever happened to the Oil Bowl?

Memphis Mike

January 4th, 2011
10:41 am

You know, in the “old days” even a lower-tiered bowl like the Sun Bowl meant something because the teams involved typically had won at least 8 to 9 games. I just can’t see a 6-6 team being worthy of anything other than extensive post season analysis as to why their season went punk. Bowl games mean nothing now and it’s obviously all about the money. I don’t even see how they make a profit on some of them given the numbers of people not in the stands….

Mark Richt won with Donnan players and BVG.

January 4th, 2011
10:43 am

I miss the Blue Bonnet Bowl too.

Mark Bradley

January 4th, 2011
10:45 am

Anybody remember the Garden State Bowl? I believe Tennessee played in it in 1981 or ‘92.

Mark Richt won with Donnan players and BVG.

January 4th, 2011
10:45 am

We had enough bowls already so where did they go?

Brent

January 4th, 2011
10:46 am

Money rules, college football has sold it’s soul to corporate sponsors and tv contracts. If you want change we need to boycott the sponsors. It’s only a matter of time until the Rose, Orange, and Cotton go the way of the Peach.

SECWasteManagement

January 4th, 2011
10:46 am

Mark,

How is it that you have a team going 8-4 (Temple) and not making a bowl game, while you have these 6-6 mud squad teams (Tech, UGA, Tenn) all making bowls? I know it has to do with quality of opponent, strength of schedule, etc, but some of the teams in bowls this year were wayyy worse than the Owls.

Mark Richt won with Donnan players and BVG.

January 4th, 2011
10:47 am

Good ole Garden State Bowl. I remember that one too.

Worm

January 4th, 2011
10:48 am

More empty seats at this years games than in recent memory..The Orange last night was pretty surprising..Even Clemson playing in Charlotte couldn’t muster more than 40,000!

Goldenrod

January 4th, 2011
10:48 am

Dawgfan311

January 4th, 2011
10:50 am

It might be personal bias, but I think a large majority of the country enjoys watching SEC and Big Ten football. (SEC probably more but thats not the point). That’s why the New Years day lunch time lineup has started to kill me. 3 big Ten teams vs. 3 SEC all at the same time and, unless you go to the trouble to hook up multiple TVs while hungover from the night before, you’re pretty much screwed. At least the cotton bowl wasn’t thrown right in there with them like it usually is, but it still sucks seeing the cotton bowl on Jan. 7.

They might as well have a playoff and quit worrying about ruining tradition because they’ve already ruined it.

Mark Richt won with Donnan players and BVG.

January 4th, 2011
10:50 am

Hall of Fame Bowl and the Presidential Cup Bowl classics?

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

January 4th, 2011
10:51 am

oh the days of the tangerine bowl are missed

Dontavius Supremo

January 4th, 2011
10:53 am

I don’t know too many people who have watched this string of bad, pointless, useless football games played at “bowls” and televised on ESPN. Did ANYBODY give a flip about the Orange Bowl last night? New Year’s Day was a huge disappointment for, as you say, not a single game had any meaning whatsoever! And to top it all off we had to watch both Georgia and Georgia Tech make fools of themselves (well, some of us watched). The only team in Georgia walking tall right now is Georgia State. Go figure!

papadawg

January 4th, 2011
10:54 am

I think if we went to a playoff system and used these Bowls for playoff games they would have alot more meaning & interest

Mark Bradley

January 4th, 2011
10:54 am

Got me, SECWasteManagement.

Toe b

January 4th, 2011
10:54 am

the liberty bowl on the ms lou tv network…………

Dontavius Supremo

January 4th, 2011
10:54 am

I agree with the guy about the Poulan Weed Eater Bowl……

Ross

January 4th, 2011
10:54 am

Anything can be ruined by corporate interests – Indy, NASCAR, the Constitution – even college football, which would seem to be indestructible. I find myself more and more disinterested in college ball – have already given up on basketball – so something that once held the greatest interest for me threatens to join Indy, Daytona, and Talladega in the “discard” bin. When the NCAA loses me as a fan, being fairly typical of fandom at large, they are in serious trouble.

joe

January 4th, 2011
10:55 am

Anyone remember the toilet bowl?

MS. Bully

January 4th, 2011
10:56 am

How about them Mississippi State Bulldogs putting a beat down on Michigan. The only remedy is more COWBELL!!

BBBieUgaVIII

January 4th, 2011
10:56 am

Wasn’t it the Astro Blue Bonnet Bowl?

Old School

January 4th, 2011
10:56 am

Here’s one, the Bacardi Bowl played in Havana, Cuba. 4 different SEC teams played in that one.

Chris

January 4th, 2011
11:00 am

It’s all about the money. The NCAA doesn’t give a rats arse about fans, players, and so on. To make an argument that a playoff would be too long and demanding on the players is the most absurd comment I have ever heard. The lower divisions do it without any problem.

I will always be a fan of the college football regular season, because that is where all the rivalries and tradition come into play. However, I, along with many others could care less about the bowl system.

Maybe one day the governemnt will take it over and force the NCAA to do the right thing. I’ve only been waiting for 34 years, so I’m not holding my breathe.

BAMA BILL

January 4th, 2011
11:01 am

Hey Joe, its still around, its the one aurburn’s in right now!!!!!!!!

papadawg

January 4th, 2011
11:03 am

I learned one thing from the Bowls so far. The ones responsible for the polls DOn’T know what they are talking about. Man what blowouts

[...] Mad Men: Season Two [Blu-ray] The Birmingham News – al.comthis NOT just in: The bowl 'system' stinks worse than everAtlanta Journal constitution (blog)Among these are the Sugar Bowl (tonight) and the Cotton Bowl (Friday night), and then there's the BCS title game next Monday. Put another way, the NFL, …BCS bowl ratings down, but ESPN likes what it seesUSA TodayESPN's Bowl Coverage Is A Ratings' Rose: Cable's Third-Largest AudienceMultichannel News2011 BCS College Football Bowl Game Line Movement Report & OddsThe SpreadOHIOU The Post -Denver Post -Wizbang (blog)all 141 news articles » Call of Duty: Black Ops Via This NOT just in: The bowl ‘system’ stinks worse than ever – Atlanta Journal Const… [...]

Buckeye

January 4th, 2011
11:05 am

As your AJC colleague wrote, we need to make New Years relevant again. Playing the NC 10 days after New Years is rediculous – not to mention an 8:38 PM kick-off. How many youngters will make to midnight and to school the next day? Caleb King? Doubtful.

Weeknight Orange, Sugar, etc. turn into “who cares” unless your team is playing. At least play the traditoinal Cotton, Rose, Sugar, Orange and even the Fiesta on New Years Day.

An what happened to the 11AM start?

Buckeye

January 4th, 2011
11:07 am

Give me the traditional Cotton, Rose, Sugar, Orange on New Years. Period. Weeknight games that kick-off at 8:38PM are rediculous.

Play your Libertys whenever.

Peach on New Years Eve is a keeper.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Bradley. Mark Bradley said: This NOT just in: The bowl "system" stinks worse than ever. #BCS #collegefootball #UGA #GaTech http://bit.ly/eQi1ce [...]

ConVick

January 4th, 2011
11:11 am

Well I for one don’t care how many bowls they have or who is playing. I enjoy football. I will watch anyone at any time. Do I think there should be something better to name a national champion, yes. But at the end of the day when that last game is played, what are you going to do? Watch mind numbing basketball or hockey? Please, I rather watch any bowl game any day of the week, with any two teams. But hey thats just me.

Sonny Clusters

January 4th, 2011
11:16 am

We was bowled over by your logic. It was a bowl full of good points that you made.

[...] Loopz Game The Birmingham News – al.comthis NOT just in: The bowl 'system' stinks worse than everAtlanta Journal constitution (blog)Among these are the Sugar Bowl (tonight) and the Cotton Bowl (Friday night), and then there's the BCS title game next Monday. Put another way, the NFL, …BCS bowl ratings down, but ESPN likes what it seesUSA TodayESPN's Bowl Coverage Is A Ratings' Rose: Cable's Third-Largest AudienceMultichannel News2011 BCS College Football Bowl Game Line Movement Report & OddsThe SpreadOHIOU The Post -Denver Post -Wizbang (blog)all 141 news articles »Loopz Game Via This NOT just in: The bowl ‘system’ stinks worse than ever – Atlanta Journal Const… [...]

Hankie Aron

January 4th, 2011
11:20 am

Mark,
The only way to exact change is the easiest way. Stop watching as fans, Stop going to games, stop paying attention. Stop spending money on all college merchandise. Stop feeding the monster. As much as it would suck, I believe we the fans can bend the ear of the NCAA and the Universtity presidents by closing our wallets.

Mark Bradley

January 4th, 2011
11:21 am

Thanks, Mr. C. Happy New Year to all Clusters.

James

January 4th, 2011
11:22 am

Dawgfan311, I had the same problem. A/V equipment, especially with comcast’s newest annoyance– the thing you have to plug into the cable before you plug the cable into the TV– makes it even worse. I just gave up trying to set up two TV’s and instead flipped channels while trying not to throw up into a garbage bag.

juice sourcer

January 4th, 2011
11:22 am

Your headline is dead on…”stinks worse than ever”….and who the hell came up with Football Bowl Subdivision…that’s about the dumbest name I have ever heard. The frigging supposed championship game teams have not played in 37 days…come on…that’s a joke…I really believe that college football must be run by a bunch of Mr. Magoo’s.