Sneaky move, NCAA.
You realize nobody cares about football anymore; the time vampire of the NFL draft was the last time any socially normal person is going to even think about the gridiron until August rolls around.
The college football pages on ESPN and Sports Illustrated are getting fewer hits than the average foreign-language film blog now that it’s May.
So under the cover of offseason football coverage hangovers, the NCAA stealthily assassinated the last bit of prestige that was associated with earning a bid to a bowl game.
With the Dallas Football Classic and the New Era Pinstripe Bowl added to the lineup, as well as the demise of the International Bowl, there will be 35 bowl games following the 2010 college football season.
Seventy of the 120 Football Bowl Subdivision schools will earn a bowl bid and there’s a good chance a couple of those programs will be shoehorned into the postseason with losing records.
Last season, eight teams with a record of 6-6 — the bare minimum of wins to become bowl eligible — played in bowls. Memorable matchups from that slate included a dramatic duel in the Insight Bowl between .500 teams in Iowa State and Minnesota.
And by “memorable matchups” and “dramatic duel,” I mean a 14-13 clunker nobody watched.
I imagine there were more eyes tuned in to the cheerleaders and eight-dollar game programs than the actual action on the field.
It’s conceivable, though the NCAA is insisting it’s unlikely, that the addition of another game could force some 5-7 teams into the bowl game mix. If big-headed, underachieving teams decide to decline to play in bowl games (here’s to looking at you, Notre Dame), it becomes even easier to get squads with sub-.500 records in.
It’s essentially lowering the standard for success from “mediocrity” to “well, you tried.”
Taking a look back at 5-7 teams from last season, it also becomes conceivable that Kansas could have received a bid. Sure, the Jayhawks went 1-7 in Big 12 play and one of their wins came against FCS opponent Northern Colorado, but bowls love getting the name recognition that comes with a BCS program playing in their game. And look, Kansas even scheduled a non-conference game against a BCS school, always a resume booster.
Except the aforementioned BCS school was Duke. Any respectable program could beat the Blue Devils in football while hungover and blindfolded.
And as for the teams Duke did beat en route to its own 5-7 record?
Well, I heard Maryland and Virginia are trying to schedule games against local high school JV teams, just as confidence boosters — but the risks involved might not be worth it.
In theory, bowl games are supposed to be rewards for successful seasons.
In practice, they’re sources of income and publicity. In that case, it would seem to make sense to expand the number of bowls. But either way, why should a team that couldn’t manage to break even in wins and losses get that extra game?
And as long as I’m ranting, here’s a side note: Who’s the genius who thought it would be a good idea to play a bowl game in Yankee Stadium?
Multipurpose stadiums that involve baseball suck because baseball requires a unique set of sight lines and seating arrangements that don’t come with the rectangular shapes of every other sport’s playing surface.
If baseball games in football stadiums (i.e., the Minnesota Twins in the Metrodome) are among the worst ideas in sports, then a football game in a baseball stadium might be the worst-est.
There’s also a reason most bowl games are hosted south of the Mason-Dixon line.
Given the choice of being outdoors on Dec. 30 in New York City or Phoenix, who among you would honestly choose the Big Apple?
The fact that many bowl game attendees only go because they want a warm-weather vacation should have slammed the door shut on that idea pretty quickly. The NYC area hasn’t hosted a bowl game since 1981; take the hint guys.
But I suppose if you’re going to allow mediocrity into the game itself, then why not settle for less in the location as well?
I’m sure 90 percent of the fans will be from the Big East school that earns one of the bids, while the other 10 will be followers of the Big 12 school that gets the other invite.
Postseason play is a reward and, typically, you are not rewarded for losing. That’s why there are incentives to get good grades, try at your job and win football games.
Sure, Alabama-Huntsville made the NCAA hockey tournament with a 12-17-3 record, but it also won its conference tournament to earn the bid, which is some kind of justification for its being there. At least they did something to earn it.
As ill-advised as the idea to expand bowl games was, at least the NCAA had the tact to announce the change at a time of year where nobody gives a damn. So when you’re watching 5-7 Wake Forest play 6-6 Florida Atlantic in the Who Gives a Shit Bowl, presented by Sacrificing the Integrity of Achievement.com, and the word “sellout” keeps popping into your head, you can remember you got the notion from me first.
Adam is a junior majoring in journalism. Sick of meaningless bowl games and the sub-par teams that compete in them? E-mail him at [email protected]