As an avid college football fan my excitement over watching some bowl games during a few days off between the holidays quickly fizzled when I checked out the lineup. Apparently, I would only be able to catch a handful of the ridiculously large number of games because of the way they are spaced out.
Unlike 20 years ago when there were a total of 23 bowl games played over a 17-day period, this year’s bowl “month” as it should be known included 40 games spanning 24 days.
In fact, now there are so many bowl games that it really isn’t a big deal to “go bowling” because seemingly every team (80 in all) gets in — compared to 46 teams in 1999-2000 season.
For one thing, teams that finish 6-6 should not be considered bowl eligible, period. This year 13 teams who finished with the season with an even amount of wins and losses went bowling. Allowing those without a winning record into a bowl is simply rewarding mediocrity and is akin to doling out sports participation trophies to every player.
The case could also be made that not all of the 22 teams who went 7-5 should have been included. Did the Cats and Cards deserve to go bowling?
There is a huge difference between a Kentucky or Louisville team that plays a competitive SEC and ACC schedule and the 7-5 Arkansas State Red Wolves out of the Sunbelt Conference, who were blanked by Georgia (their toughest foe) 55-0, and the Charlotte 49ers from Conference USA, who got whipped 52-10 by Clemson (their highest ranked opponent), during the regular season.
That’s not to say that some smaller schools aren’t worthy of postseason play. For instance, Appalachian State went 12-1 with its only defeat coming on a 3-point loss to rival Georgia Southern. The Mountaineers also beat South Carolina and has been ranked in the top 25 for last five weeks.
However, bowl bids should be reserved for the upper echelon not each and every school. There shouldn’t be eight representatives from Conference USA and MAC or seven teams from the American or Mountain West. That’s downright ridiculous, especially when you consider the number of teams the three arguably best conferences ACC (10), Big Ten (9) and SEC (9) had represented in bowl games.
While I do plan on watching the national championship game on Jan. 13, it’s safe to say I, like most Americans, won’t be tuning into the final two bowl games — the Armed Forces Bowl between the 6-6 Tulane Green Wave and the 7-5 Southern Miss Golden Eagles or the LendingTree Bowl when the 8-5 Miami RedHawks take on the 10-3 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajun. Because, quite frankly, I don’t care.
Let’s go back to when being bowl-eligible meant something besides just dragging the season out longer to watch matchups of teams no one has heard of. With the exception of the national championship game, the bowl season should culminate, like it did for many years, on New Year’s Day.
Chanda Veno is managing editor of The State Journal. She can be emailed at email@example.com.