I’m having a bad breakup with bowl season
I want to break up with college football’s bowl season.
We’ve been together for years. This is hard. I don’t know what to say.
“With Alabama in the playoffs all the time, we’ve grown too far apart, bowl season.”
“I still want to be friends, bowl season, but I need some space.”
“I’m sorry bowl season — it’s not you, it’s me.”
That’s a lie. It’s not me, bowl season. It’s you.
In 2017, there are 39 post-season contests for college football. Of the 130 teams eligible, 78 of them — 60 percent — are going bowling. That’s too many teams, bowl season. You’re like the girl my momma warned me about.
Sixteen of those teams broke even at 6-6, and a bunch more went 7-5. A thousand players on second-rate teams will get a weeklong vacation and $3,500 worth of iPods and Beats headphones for showing up to a Wednesday-night bowl, something like the Jones Farms’ Organic Hotdog Bowl in Tampa, and for some reason that’s supposed to be a great and wonderful celebration of sports.
OK. I made up that bowl. But still. The truth is just as bad.
On Dec. 16, Georgia State (6-5) defeated Western Kentucky (6-6) in the AutoNation Cure Bowl in Orlando. I’m sure all the blue chip recruits watching from home were enthralled to see Georgia State in post-season play after losing to Idaho, a team that’s dropping down to Division II next year.
That same night, Middle Tennessee (6-6) beat Arkansas State (7-4) in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl in Montgomery. If I was Arkansas State, I’d be embarrassed to lose to a team from Murfreesboro. Know what they do in Murfreesboro? Me neither. I’m sure it involves $12 craft beer and listening to someone play “Wagon Wheel” on acoustic guitar.
For God’s sake, that ain’t football. They probably don’t even have fist fights.
How could you do this, bowl season? It gets worse.
This very night, Virginia (6-6) takes on Navy (6-6) in the Northrop Grumman Military Bowl in Navy’s home stadium in Annapolis. Let’s face it — Northrop Grumman sponsoring this game is the same thing as sending your boss a Christmas card. Lockheed Martin did the same thing with Army a few days ago. The game is a tax write-off for a $24 billion per year defense contractor, and I’m sure the selection committee said, “Sure. Virginia. We’ll go with that.”
Bowl season doesn’t really love you, Virginia. You’re being used.
This is nothing new. People have long complained there are too many bowls, too many undeserving teams. Bowl season has heard it all before.
But in the last few years, national sportswriters and TV talkers have started pushing back. They say there’s no such thing as too many bowls. Some even support adding more bowls.
David Briggs of the Toledo Blade wrote a short defense of bowl season a few days ago. He said the games could be “irresistibly entertaining.”
I wonder if he was entertained by Florida Atlantic ripping up Akron 50-3 in the Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl. Why sacrifice Akron to Lane Kiffin’s offensive machine? Why even call Akron to begin with? Do you even know where Akron is, bowl season? Or what a Cheribundi is?
Bill Connelly at SB Nation started his column with an anecdote about Middle Tennessee players getting emotional when they found out they were going bowling (or maybe they were buzzed after downing some sweet coffee stouts). He wrote about the hard work that goes into football games, the emotion, how the bowls mean something to the players.
The Independence Bowl means so much to Florida State safety Derwin James, he’s sitting it out. Saving himself for the NFL draft. Connor Williams, an All-American offensive lineman from Texas, is skipping the Texas Bowl. There are others.
Bad teams. Bad sponsors. Bad attendance. Bowl season promises thrilling, meaningful football games, but that’s insincere. And that’s why we have to break up.
Don’t try to talk me out of it, bowl season. I know, you’re right — last year 38 of 40 bowl games drew more than one million viewers. The bowl system is successful. Folks are piling up money on TV contracts.
Yes, people watch. People watch house fires, too.
The College Football Playoff has made bowl season irrelevant. As a new love, she’s not perfect. She’s a little too skinny, and she only dates good-looking guys from traditional families (Roll Tide). But she’s focused and she means something.
She doesn’t create a bunch of drama where there is none and try to call it the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl in St. Petersberg.
Yes, that one’s real. Temple played in it. They were 6-6.
I’m sorry, bowl season. It just ain’t the same anymore.
News editor Adam Northam can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 601-265-5305.