The bowl season is upon us and I watch mixed emotion through the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Gildan New Mexico Bowl, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl, R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl . . . and the list goes on and on. Look, I get it. I played in the Hall of Fame and Independence Bowls, neither to be confused with any of the commodities of Orange, Cotton, Sugar, or Rose. It was exciting and an honor to be recognized at the end of the season as a team worthy of playing an additional designated game.
College Bowl games – What’s the point?
College Bowl games provide recruiting fodder and give coaches “extra practice time” prior to the start of spring drills. Athletic Departments wine and dine their contributors and use football to showcase the rest of their sports repertoire. ESPN gets built in programming, where most fans would be surfing between Christmas Vacation and The Grinch. But Bowl Season has come to personify the very essence of the Gen Y player representing their university in the Maaco Las Vegas or BELK Bowls – “The Trophy Generation”.
I can live with the current structure as is, though I’m not sure if most fans know schools make very little to no money on these games. They’re required to sell an allotment of tickets when the student body has headed home for the holidays and the alumni would rather spend their cash on a tropical vacation than a trip to the Little Caesar’s Bowl in Detroit. Most of the money being made is by the Bowl itself and the TV that is covering it, and not necessarily in that order.
BCS Bowls – It’s a setup
BCS Bowls present the best college football has to offer via the computer rankings and some subjective poll voting by former Big 10 and SEC pundit players. If you’re an independent, have your own network, and can slip by your schedule undefeated, you can bypass all the technicalities and make it to the Big Game on your own!
The NCAA controls the Championships of all sports sans FBS football. This cry has gone out before, but I’m going to scream out my own version of what is long overdue – a playoff to determine the National Champion. The NFL is a buzz with all kinds of scenarios and seeding possibilities. Commissioner Roger Goodell went as far as dropping the idea of expanding the field (though that’s for another post).
NCAA – Take control
Some initial “house cleaning” would be in order. Classify The BIG 5 Conferences; PAC-12, SEC, BIG 12, BIG 10, ACC. Drop the Big East down with the MAC, Conference USA, and the MWC. Feel free to trim any dead weight FBS programs from the ledgers. Size up the BIG 5 so they’re playing with 2 Divisions and do away with indiscriminate “conference jumping”.
Take over regular season scheduling. Cross conference games would be set by the NCAA, perhaps similar to NFL Divisional standards and based on record. Inner conference scheduling would center on regional and traditional rivalries.
College Playoffs – The possibilities
Use Alabama as an example. The Tide would play Auburn as they normally do, even if in different divisions. If the SEC were playing the BIG 10, ‘Bama would have to face Ohio State during the regular season (assuming Ohio State was at the top of one of the BIG 10 divisions). Perhaps Texas in similar circumstances against the BIG 12.
Each BIG 5 Conference would send both Division Champions to the Playoffs, 10 representatives overall. Each of the 4 remaining conferences; MAC, Conference USA, MWC and Big East would send their lone Champion. There would be two additional At-Large teams that would come from anywhere in the Big 5 Conferences. Both might be SEC schools, or one additional from the PAC 12 & the ACC. Sixteen total participants.
The 10 Big 5 Conference schools would automatically seed ahead of the other 4 Conference Champions, as would the 2 At-Large bids.
That leaves a 15 game field, plenty of room for traditional BCS games, and the opportunity to rotate the Championship just as before. I realize this is nothing novel, but it’s time to start protecting “the game” of college football. The money to be made and the interest to be generated are just too good for EVERYONE involved. By EVERYONE I mean each & every school eligible. San Jose State should have the same opportunity as the University of Alabama reap the benefits of winning a National Championship.
NCAA, take back the game of college football and take the New Era Pinstripe Bowl with you.