Now that the regular College Football season is, almost (Go Army! Beat Navy!) over it's time to peek ahead in the month, a little closer to Christmas, and start talking about the many, many Bowl games that are coming our way.
As I stated before the title of this post says that there are 40(!) games to be played but there are really 41(!!) if you include the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl. (Which we will).
Before we start to take a look at the individual games however let us get something out of the way first.
There are too many damn bowl games.
Period. We've reached the point where there are mow bowl games than qualifying teams. In fact, three teams with losing seasons are going to be playing in games this year. That's right, Nebraska, San Jose State and Minnesota are in with a losing record. To solve the problem of not enough eligible teams, and to prevent people from thinking it is all about money, the NCAA decided that something called "academic progress" would be the determining factor in who gets awarded for a losing season with a bowl game.
It's time to cut, to take a straight-razor to the number of games and, for the love of it all, STOP authorizing new bowls. I think the correct number is around 30. Given that there are now, 128 schools currently playing at the Division 1 (FBS, whatever) level, half of that number is 64. That means that, with 30 bowls on the schedule, potentially 4 could get left out every year. Of course, the true number will be higher than that due to the fact that several bowl eligible teams will sweeten their record playing Division II (FCS, whatever) schools.
I would take it a step further. Bring bowl eligibility back to 7-5. A winning record. To me that is the minimum level that you need to attain to receive a bowl invite. If all of the 7-5 teams are taken, then open up the chocks and let the bowls operate free from conference affiliation and bring in the 6-6 teams that they want.
For the remaining .500 teams, you let them conduct the same number of extra practices (the REAL benefit of a bowl game) that the other .500 received by being selected to play in a bowl. This rewards the non-selected teams for not finishing with a losing record, and doesn't punish schools for having a small-alumni base that doesn't travel.
The Question becomes which 11 bowls should get the ax? Here's my top choices and my reasoning behind letting them go. Also, I'll mention a couple of bowls that were on the bubble so to speak but which I think deserve a place on the schedule.
1. Raycom Media Camellia Bowl: A middling bowl with no history to speak of, and a relatively low payout. Also, it's owned and operated by ESPN, which is having to fire people to make ends meet. Get rid of this bowl, maybe save some behind the scenes jobs.
2. AutoNation Cure Bowl: Another middling bowl with good intentions, finding a cure for breast cancer, but poor execution. Why not require all of the bowls to make donations to cancer research instead? With it's poor conference tie-ins this bowl is never going to amount to much.
3. Miami Beach Bowl: With no title sponsor and a weak matchup this bowl is one that can go without much nostalgia. Truthfully, does anyone remember that this one was played last year?
4. Marmot Boca Raton Bowl: Yet another ESPN owned and operated bowl whose resources could be better used elsewhere in the network. If you want to kill any of these put the First Take crew in the announce booth. Ratings would plummet.
5. GoDaddy Bowl: This bowl never had any serious history. First known as the Alabama Bowl it morphed into the GMAC Bowl before becoming the GoDaddy.com Bowl and then just the GoDaddy Bowl. It's just a vehicle for GoDaddy.com to unveil another horrid commercial, which they can do during the SuperBowl anyway. The price difference on ad prices might just spare us all the weak sexual tension between Jillian Michaels and Danica Patrick.
6. Hawai'i Bowl: I realize that Hawai'i is a heck of a bowl trip for the players, and coaches, and their families. However, Hawai'i is seriously considering getting rid of their football team. I think we speed them along by getting rid of their bowl game first.
7. Popeye's Bahamas Bowl: We don't need a Bowl game in the Bahamas. We just don't.
8. St Petersburg Bowl: The day after Christmas, after I've eaten too much (again) is not a day that I want to wake up and watch a sub-par College Football game. Especially when there are compelling matchups later in the day.
9. Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl: While I LOVE the Cotton Bowl as a College Football venue, I hate that this game is here. It reminds me of what the Cotton Bowl once was in advance of the travesty currently being played at Jerry's World. (Note: I would vote to keep this if Jerruh would agree to swap names)
10. Foster Farm's Bowl: It was useful as the Fight Hunger Bowl, now it's just another middling bowl that you're going to have to stay up late to watch.
11. NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl: I've a feeling this one is going to take care of itself. It barely got a title sponsor and it's the only bowl that won't be on TV. On top of all that, it's matchup is two teams from the Mountain West Conference. Instant death penalty.
Bowls that just (barely) made the cut.
1. Gildan New Mexico Bowl: It does have some history, and a fairly secure title sponsor. It is also the only bowl game played in New Mexico so there's that.
2. Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl: This bowl can produce some good matchups. See: this year's return of the Holy War. It's also a bowl game in Las Vegas which should always happen.
3. R + L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: This bowl has a pretty good association with the Sun Belt Conference and it'd be a shame to take that away.
4. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Gotta give the MAC and Mountain West conferences a chance to go head to head. Also, see New Mexico as this is the only game in the State.
5. The Quick Lane Bowl: After all the City has been through, I just didn't have the heart to take something away from Detroit. Besides, it's been around for a while now and typically provides entertainment. This year's travesty notwithstanding.