Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Bowl System Isn't Going Anywhere

I noticed something a bit comical the other day, in regard to bowl trophies.

I think they are getting bigger. And way more fancy.

Take a look at that honker next to Mike Gundy at the Fiesta Bowl. Wow. Makes you think that game was the most important game in the history of tackle football.

And won't that sucker look pretty in the OSU trophy case!

Which is really the point. Bowls are doing everything they can to perpetuate the current system, and if that means crafting 50 pound slabs of granite and metal to impart false importance for the Capital One Bowl, then so be it.

Someday when somebody says "let's get rid of all of this" then someone else will look in their school trophy case and let out a Homer like whine: "Buuuttt.. what about the trophies.... awwwww..."

Despite tepid ticket sales for once "prestige" bowls like the Sugar (see last night's upper deck shots) and even more ludicrous empty seats for the garbage bowls, I don't think we're any closer to a Division 1 playoff now than we have been for the last 20 years.

Put aside the MERITS of a playoff vs. the "current system", for lack of a better overall term that encompasses the regular season, the bowls, and the BCS structure.

This is not an argument of "what is better?" This is an analysis of "is there momentum for change?"

I just don't see it.

Sure, schools can and do LOSE money on bowl trips (UConn lost almost $2 million on last year's Orange Bowl trip). Sure, it's getting harder and harder to fill these games up. Sure the coaches SAY they want a playoff. Sure, the media still blare their horns of outrage in hopes of at least a "Plus One" format.

But none of that matters.

Not until ESPN decides it doesn't want to be in the business of running, televising and promoting almost every single one of the post season bowl games. This year, ESPN/ABC televised or outright owned 33 of the 35 bowls. Eventually, Fox (Cotton Bowl) and CBS (Sun Bowl) will wake up and say: "What the hell are we doing here?" And drop out.

So it works for ESPN.

And it works for AD's who can go home and brag about being in/winning the (Insert Bowl Here) Bowl and say "put that in the media guide!"

It works for coaches who may SAY they want a playoff, but really like the security of bonuses for getting into a bowl of some sort (and hey, 70 teams do!) They love the relatively consequence-free nature of winning or losing a single game detached from the season by a full month plus the holidays.

It works for the players who like the $600 worth of Playstations and Oakley sunglasses they get, plus a week in a strange city and one more fun football game that all of their friends and family can watch on TV.

It works for the corporate sponsors, who to date, have never left a single bowl game standing at the altar without somebody willing to pony up some cash to slap their name on the title.

And it certainly works for every BCS member school, who do not need to share their financial spoils with the Ball State's of the college football world. The BCS is a clumsily constructed cartel, but a cartel nonetheless. And so they reward their own, as you saw by the Michigan vs. Virginia Tech "inside job" at the Sugar Bowl.

I'm not saying there aren't pressure points to the current system.

I'm just saying everyone thought Castro's regime would have fallen by now, and well, can you rent a vacation condo in Havana today, in 2012?

I'd recommend you don't get all hoarse yelling about "the system" because it won't do you any good. I don't even think organizing attendance boycotts of the games will do the trick. These games just need to be shown on TV to make sense to the "powers that be." If they need to digitally insert some fake fans, then we'll have that technology in a few years anyway.

LSU -1 on Monday night against Alabama.

See you there.


More comically over-crafted Bowl trophies for your enjoyment...


  1. I am proud that my alma mater is a true, undisputed National Champion in Division II. Pittsburg State hosted every playoff game (yes, playoffs.) and beat a very good Wayne State team out of Detroit for a trophy that is worth a hell of a lot more than that fish bowl New Orleans (toilet) Bowl monstrosity. It's a simple wooden pylon with a gold NCAA medal in the middle and a sheet of glass embedded at the bottom, and the base it says "National Champion"

    The apologists who spew their loyalty to a flawed system are as apparent as those with the mark of the beast on their foreheads. You know they are full of shit. They are well aware that a 24-team playoff like that in Division II, in fact, works, and bring themselves to the light.

    I give you the Pittsburg State Gorillas. QED.

  2. First off, congrats to the Pittsburgh State Gorillas -- very neat, I didn't know that about Division II, Sam Martin.

    Second off, Czabe -- you are looking at it the wrong way. Let's keep making the trophies heavier too -- until players can't lift them! So, you have some big guy hand the trophy to one of the players, and it knocks them on their backside!

  3. An 8 team playoff can't get here fast enough, but it's going to take time. Need to start with a 'Plus One' and work from there.

    Bowl games are nice to win, but if UT thinks there's a demand for "Holiday Bowl Champions" TShirts - just get ready to ship those to a third world country.

  4. Pffft I've got a wine cabinet topped by trophies every bit as bitchin' as any of those. And they feature various combinations of flames, smokers and golden pigs/cows/chickens. And the one in the attached photo was a 2nd place trophy won in the Sam's Club parking lot in Chesapeake VA. I bet VA Tech would've liked something that nice for their 2nd place finish in the Sugar Bowl!!/photo.php?fbid=10150316781854752&set=a.272771084751.141271.272730484751&type=3&theater

  5. A playoff is not going to happen for one simple reason, it would require the NCAA to run the system. If the NCAA runs the DI playoff then that means the small schools will get a cut of the action (or more than they currently paid to keep quiet). Until it is shown that the big schools will make more money from a playoff than the current system it won't happen.

    This isn't exactly rocket science.

  6. I haven't watched a single bowl game this year and haven't missed them, to be honest. The fact that college football fans don't insist on something better (like a playoff) makes me think less of them. It's simple - don't buy tickets, don't watch on tv, don't buy merchandise. Until people vote with their wallets, we'll be stuck with 35 "champions" each year and no real championship.