The First Bowl Game a/k/a “The Granddaddy of ‘em All” was The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA back in 1902 – Michigan vs Stanford. Fast forward 113 years and there are 40 of’em.
80 freakin’ teams will “go bowling” this holiday season. There are so many slots to be filled that the “win at least six games” stipulation has to be waived to get enough teams. So they drop below mediocre into losers to REWARD with a “bowl game”.
“Going to a bowl” now ranks with Little League participation trophies as “reward” for nothing.
Q: How did The Bowl Games get so screwed up?
A: DUH! The two principals involved are the NCAA and ESPN…. all that’s missing is “your local school board” to Really screw it up.
If your school is NOT one of The Mostly Mediocre 80 that “go to a bowl”, that carries a social stigma akin to “not owning a smartphone ?” …. or “never seen a Bond movie ?” ….or “didn’t take your kids to Disney World ?”.
“Oh, I’m sorry to learn your school did not get a bowl bid. Are you deemphasizing football…. or else, is your school racist?”….. OR
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear your son/daughter did not get into (name of exclusive pre-school). I understand some community colleges aren’t all that bad. We still need plumbers and secretaries too.“
Q: WHY are there so many bowls?
A: Because ESPN research indicates that any LIVE sports event draws more viewers than any other form of programming, especially during the holiday season. Choppin State versus Lehigh in the Fred’s Beds Bowl coming to you LIVE from TexArkana will pull more viewers than…. six fired coaches sitting on stools discussing why a football is pointed at both ends.
NOTE: My idea of a LIVE event worth watching would be Kristine Leahy (That Blond on The Herd) applying lip gloss for an hour.
ESPN has umpteen different networks each with 24 hours of air to fill. 24 X “umpteen” – you do the math. There is nothing magic about 40 other than it zipped right thru “ridiculous” about 20 bowls ago and never slowed down.
A “Tipping Point” in the Bowl Bizness was when they got to “Potato” and “Weedeater”. THAT was the bowl equivalent of “having sex with farm animals”. “Can do it” and “should do it” are very different decisions to make.
Q: Do the schools “make money” going to a bowl?
A: Only the ones that go to the 5-6 Top Tier bowls. Those are the 5-6 bowls you’ve actually heard of and might guess where they are played. They attract teams that won most of their games and achieved something worthwhile. The “pay-out” for those 5-6 bowls slightly exceeds the travel costs of going to them… if the team travels by bus, not airplane.
“Pay-outs” have to be shared with the other members of one’s conference. With conferences now having 12-14 members, that means smaller slices of each bowl pie.
Q: Why is being “bowl eligible” such a Big Deal?
A: (1) Because pretty much every coaches’ contract (even assistants) contains a $$$ bonus for “going to a bowl”. Usually an extra month’s salary. They get their bonuses even though the bowl is a net loss to the school ….. (2) Semi-literate 17 y/os are, apparently, still impressed by “we go to a bowl near’bout every year” recruiting spiels. …..
Oh Goody, I’ll get a $100 gift card to Best Buy, a cheap knock-off watch and get to spend Christmas in Wichita. Where do I sign, coach?
Impressing semi-literate 17 y/os is on every Why do they do That? short list about Big Time College Sports.
Q: Does which bowl your school goes to really matter?
A: Beyond the “real Bowls” – i.e. Top Tier – which still have some modicum of cache – No. All that matters is “is it close enough to consider going to?” Fewer and fewer and fewer fans bother to go to bowl games each year. Because they are ALL on TV which, remember, is why they exist in the first pace. The “within a 5 hour drive” factor is all-important.
State, Duke and Carolina fans are normally limited to either the Charlotte or Atlanta bowls. Other than those two, the traveling fan contingent will just be the die-hards that have more $$$ than sense or …. actually that’s it.
The exception is the rare opportunity to go to a REAL Bowl such as UNC appears to have this year. Alas, unless UNC beats Clemson and somehow gets into the Final Four, UNC cannot go to The Orange Bowl BECAUSE…. The Orange Bowl – this year – is a CFP semi-final site. Oh! Bummer.
If UNC loses to The Dabos they will go to either the Citrus Bowl in Orlando; or the Peach / Chik-fil-A Whatever in Atlanta. Both are Top Tier but Atlanta is indoors and a much easier trip.
The only way any significant number of TruBlues will travel to Orlando would be if Roy scheduled a basketball game there at halftime. OUCH!
Q: Do the Bowl guys care about how many people actually attend the game?
A: Not really other than it is “found $$$” and it looks better on TV to have some people in the stands. Their back-up plan is to give out 1,000s of freebies to local Boys Clubs, homeless people and extended families of the local bowl committee. Regardless, they will cordon off the upper level and end zone sections and the TV camera guys will be told to “keep your shots very tight…. so all the empty seats don’t show”.
Q: What about those “extra practices” teams get before a bowl?
A: Very important to coaches. They see it as “like an early Spring practice” where they can evaluate back-ups who might be playing next season. The “two-deep regulars” just stand around during bowl practices…. and get arrested.
2-3 “regulars” on each bowl team will get arrested for various malfeasances major and minor during the bowl practice period. It is customary for each bowl team to suspend 2-3 thug-aletes each December.
Do they still get the knock-off watch? Usually, yes.
Does the Carolina thug-alete arrested last Saturday night count towards their 2-3? No. It wasn’t December yet.
Little Known Fact: Most schools now complete their first semester in early December so player eligibility for a bowl can be a factor. Players planning to “declare for the NFL” or who have no more eligibility often quit even pretending to be students during that Fall semester and end up ineligible for the bowl game. …. If the CFP grows beyond a Final Four this will become a pretty big deal as star players could be ineligible unless schools “get creative” with grades, etc. Which, of course, they WILL do.
Q: Do bowl guys still run that scam where the two schools are given really crappy seats they force on their loyal fans…. so the bowls can give the good seats to sponsors who then give them away to customers who could care less?
A: That evil scam is much less prevalent than it was 4-5 years ago. The dim-wittedest fans finally figured that one out. Booster clubs tried to make fans feel guilty if they bought “good seats” thru ticket brokers or direct from the bowl rather than the really crappy seats the booster club has to buy and then force-sell to their gullible fans.
That old line: We need to show bowls that our fan base travels well is pure CRAP. It’s an idiots’ debate only played by battling board monkeys. ….. With 80 spots to fill, bowls just want two teams to show up and play a game.
Bowl guys also no longer wear goofy blazers from the Herb Tarlek Collection @ Mens Wearhouse.
OK Mr SmartyPants…. what would YOU do as Bowl Czar?
Glad you asked. I would have:
All-day Bowl-athons at 5-6 sites with spiffy Domed Stadiums
…. or in South Florida, SoCal or Arizona where decent December weather is 95% likely. Spread over several weekends in mid-late December.
Modern domed stadiums are in large cities that have plenty of hotels and legitimate attractions (i.e. a mega theme parks and at least three nudie clubs! ) for fans to WANT TO visit in December.
Have three games back to back to back on the same field in say New Orleans, Atlanta, Dallas, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Miami ….. noon / 4:00 / 8:00. Use Indianapolis and Detroit for the very bottom tier whozit bowls like Choppin State versus Lehigh, etc.
Divide the 80,000 seats into six sections among the six participating teams. Your ticket is good for all three games…. Such A Deal !
Guaranteed comfortable game conditions…. in a legit place to visit…. for a for-real event. I have a logistical plan all worked out for locker rooms, et al. Totally doable.
DAMN BobLee… That’s a Great Idea !!
Yeah, I know. The mob guys who run the casinos in Bossier City next to Shreveport don’t like it…. but everyone else who hears it loves it.
Uh Oh…. BobLee just opined about Cam Newton’s Dancing …. Oh Lordy!