Alright. Six bowl games in the books. Only 33 more!
So far, for the most part, we have seen some really good football with a couple bowl games coming down to the wire. A good start to the bowl season, especially for the naysayers that say there are too many bowl games. To be perfectly honest, I somewhat agree. 39 bowl games is a little much. Saying that, it’s college football so I will watch as much of it as I can. But there are always arguments as to why the amount of bowl games should be cut in half if not more. I will try to dispel some of those arguments here:
- They are just glorified exhibition games. This is somewhat true for the lesser bowl games. However, watch how people are about the World Junior Hockey Championship tune-up games. You’d think it was the gold medal game for a meaningless exhibition game but the stands will be packed and the ratings will be great and TSN (and to a lesser extent, Sportsnet) go gaga over them. It’s stupid. But people love hockey. Just like people love college football. So we can just put that argument in the dumpster.
- Attendance is so low for bowl games. This only applies to a few bowl games. Many of them get 30,000+ to attend with the average at almost 49,000. The CFL would kill for these figures. You don’t even want to know what the CIS would do to get within sniffing distance of those totals. Also, how many FBS programs have less than a 30,000 average attendance for games? Answer is 47 last season. Out of just over 120. That’s over a third of the teams. And it’s amazing how many programs don’t even fill 70% of their stands. So the attendance argument can go take a hike.
- Too many undeserving teams get to play what amounts to a postseason game. I can give you this to an extent. It gets a bit tiring to see 6-6 teams being eligible for bowl games. However, if it was changed to 7 wins, many people would argue that is too low. Baseball now has ten teams make their playoffs and may add more. The NFL puts in 12 and almost surely will add more by 2016. The NHL and NBA put just more than half in (16 out of 30). The argument is a decent one but doesn’t hold water when compared to other sports leagues.
- It takes students away from the classrooms. I don’t know where this argument came from but it is ridiculous. First off, most of the action is on Christmas break from classes. Secondly, wouldn’t that make the entire regular season difficult for student-athletes since they need to put a lot of time into practice as well as games? And finally, at least at the FBS level, the players are treated somewhat like semi-pros as for what they have to do for the programs. I won’t get into the compensation aspect here because there are way too many angles that could fill five different blog posts. So toss that argument out the window.
- Ratings are low. The biggest horseshit argument. The NBA and NHL (at least in the States) don’t come close to the ratings that bowl games have, until those respective leagues get to their playoffs. If TSN didn’t think it was worth broadcasting them (and same with Sportsnet in the past) then why the hell would they put them on? Doesn’t make sense does it? Other than the World Juniors, which is a ratings juggernaut, the bowl games rate quite favourably against other sports.
So there we go. Arguments over. I may be a tiny bit biased because I really enjoy watching college football. The problem is if we start eliminating certain games (in all sports) that are deemed somewhat irrelevant then we’d be left with a lot less live sports to watch. Then people would complain again. I’ve determined that baseball and football (in the US) and hockey (in Canada) have been replaced as national pastimes by hate and complaining.
Anyway, enough of the rant. On to recaps of the bowl games. I said I would watch almost every minute of every bowl game in a previous post. I lied. That’s impossible unless I record games and re-watch them later. I love the game but that’s too much for even me.
New Orleans Bowl: UL-Lafayette 16 Nevada 3 – Not the greatest game to start out. Good crowd at the Superdome at least. Helps that a Louisiana team was in it although I am sure the Ragin Cajuns are getting to the point where they would like to go elsewhere for bowl season. Also, the chances that Mark Hudspeth gets a head coaching job in a better conference just went up considerably. Don’t count him out for the Pitt position.
New Mexico Bowl: Utah State 21 UTEP 6 – Again, another good crowd which was helped by the proximity of one of the teams. Plus UTEP almost never goes bowling so for their fans it is a real treat. Sean Kugler had his chance to get his name out there for more prominent coaching positions and lost it (for now). He’s still a hilarious interview and one day deserves a shot. UTEP looked overmatched this entire game. Something tells me USU was just toying with them in this one since they could easily beat every Group of Five team and many Power Five teams as well.
Las Vegas Bowl: Utah 45 Colorado State 10 – If it wasn’t for Brent Musburger in the booth, I probably wouldn’t have watched more than ten minutes of this one. The Utes laid waste to Colorado State here. I think CSU was just drained from a regular season that saw them come so close to going to a major bowl and then losing their head coach. Hearing that the rest of the coaches were fired after the game was pretty bad form though.
Idaho Potato Bowl: Air Force 38 Western Michigan 24 – If there were any bowls that I have polarizing views on, it would be this one. It might be considered the first bowl I would remove since they usually get two not-so-good teams. On the other hand, it’s in Boise, which makes for crazy football weather which is awesome to watch. This year they got one good team and one even better team. These were arguably the two most improved teams in the country this season. Expect big things from Western Michigan for sure next season as they were still a young team here.
Camellia Bowl: Bowling Green 33 South Alabama 28 – I lied. Going into bowl season I would have considered this bowl a one-and-done affair. Not after this game though. Talk about exciting. Canadian QB leading the Jags back and taking the lead late to the delight of a fairly big crowd in Montgomery. Then first play from scrimmage after that, the Falcons go the length of the field for the winning TD. Throw in Joey Jones, USA’s head coach, getting his nose busted in the middle of the fourth quarter and you had a pretty damn fun game to watch. Would have been the best early bowl if it hadn’t been for…
Miami Beach Bowl: Memphis 55 BYU 48 (2OT) – This game is what bowl season is all about…except for the aftermath. The game itself was fantastic unless you’re a fan of defensive football. Playing at Marlins Ballpark was interesting and provided a different atmosphere that’s fun to watch. The game was chippy at times but it felt like two ultra-competitive teams going toe-to-toe. And it was. I expect that out of BYU which always seems to have a chip on its shoulder. It was great to see that passion out of Memphis though. Too bad a fantastic game and great finish was marred by a huge brawl. In football terms this was pretty bad. Quite a bit of blood from what I saw. This is where bowl games need to take a bit of a stand. The organizers for the game should make it so BYU doesn’t get the automatic bid next season. They should also find another conference to fill the other slot other than the American. There is no need for this crap at the end of any sporting event.
Well I am looking forward to the next set of games. Two today and two tomorrow. Then starting Boxing Day it really kicks into gear. Here’s hoping I can cram in enough college football to satiate me for the months when we don’t have any.