Before we ring in 2010, twenty bowl games will be played. Fourteen more kick off the first week of January. Thirty four games means 68 teams make it, over 50% of those eligible. The opportunity for mediocre Division 1A teams to score extra cash for their athletic fund Christmas stockings is enlisting the sport as a capitalistic extension of a holiday already focused on the bottom line.
This year, college football faithful can catch Marshall versus Ohio in the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl (yes, our country’s worst pizza chain sponsors a bowl). Pitt and North Carolina play in the Meineke Bowl, named in honor of the strip mall muffler shops. The Emerald Bowl (canned nuts) features Boston College and USC, and Virginia Tech and Tennessee play in the Chic-fil-A Bowl. On December 24th, Nevada and SMU kick off the Hawaii Bowl.
This is just a sampling of the holiday season’s gridiron offerings. If you want to watch you’d best have cable: ESPN has broadcasting rights to twenty-three games.
Debate over the need for proper college football playoffs in Division 1A has been protracted, painful and way too logical. President Obama gets it: the flaws with the current Bowl Championship Series are endless. Boise State and Texas Christian University are both undefeated: no matter whether Texas or Alabama wins the BCS Championship game on January 7th, there will be one other perfect team with a claim to being the best.
My own alma mater, University of Idaho, made the cut for the first time in 11 years, so maybe I shouldn’t complain. Still, lower divisions conduct successful playoffs every year – the games are competitive and the questions about strength and talent are sorted out where they should be: on the playing field.
It all has to do with revenue, or the loss of it if a playoff replaces the current mish-mash of bowls. The money right now is unreal. Even Notre Dame, who have been a non-entity in college football for 15 years, get post-season revenue from the Santas of advertising and TV.
In 1979 there were about a dozen bowl games played. There were no overt corporate ties back then. New Year’s Day was a glorious marathon of college football: Cotton Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl and finally the granddaddy of them all, the Rose Bowl.
We went to sleep knowing that on January 2nd we could focus on life’s next important thing: the NFL playoffs.
Should top college football teams have a playoff? Tell us what you think in the comments.