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Padre Steve’s Thoughts on the Proliferation of Bad College Football Bowl Games

Northwest Nowhere State Defeats Middle of Nowhere University 3-0 to Win the Kruger Industrial Smoothing Absolutely Meaningless Bowl in Overtime


Minot North Dakota (AP) The Northwest Nowhere State Thunder Pigs defeated the Middle of Nowhere Rabid Foxes in the first annual Kruger Industrial Smoothing Absolutely Meaningless Bowl by a score of 3-0 on a last minute overtime field goal in front of 4633 fans.  Despite the low attendance and low television ratings the NCAA and the Kruger Industrial Smoothing officials consider the Bowl a success. George Louis Costanza spokesman for Kruger said “5-7 versus 6-6, right in the middle of the Bell curve. The teams weren’t flashy but they were real.” When he was asked about the quality of the game itself Costanza replied “whatever, where’s the toilette?”  The game was forgettable marred by turnovers penalties and sloppy play.  The winning score came with 12 seconds left in overtime after Nowhere State Quarterback Demond Winnemaker collided with running back Jarod Nutzinski causing a fumble which was recovered by Northwest Nowhere State at the 12 yard line. The Thunder Pigs kicking team was sent in and kicker Johnny Leadfoot booted a ball that grazed the inside of the left upright to score the winning field goal.  Neither team had more than 150 offensive yards causing ESPN commentator Chris Berman to remark to Mike Golic “My God Mike I have never seen such a bad game, why the hell did ESPN get into this?” Nonetheless Thunder Pigs Head Coach Levi Bergman commented in his post-game interview “This win was a triumph for the school and the kids and great for the program. Hopefully we can do as well next year.” Middle of Nowhere Head Coach Joe Pistichinni simply commented “Whatever” when asked about how his team played.

 

Of course the little bit above is completely fictitious it is not too far removed from reality in today’s college football bowl season.   While I am not an avid football fan, my heart belonging to the one true religion of the Church of Baseball I do like a well played football game between quality teams, something way back when the College Bowl Season represented quite well, until well the money took precedence over the product.  College football is big business and major corporations of a wide variety of ilk’s line up to sponsor a bowl game.  There are 35 Bowl Games in 2010 which means that 70 teams will play in a bowl game this year. Now mind you there are only 120 Division schools and even my limited math skills tell me that 58% of Division I schools in the NCAA will play in a bowl game, I mean we are getting almost to the point of the NBA playoff system here where almost everyone gets a chance at the post-season.  It is not uncommon at all to see teams with a 6-6 record playing in a bowl and with the need to fill 70 slots there may be the day that a team with a losing record is invited to a bowl game; in fact the statistical probability of this happening in the next 5 years is quite high.

The NCAA doesn’t mind this because it is for all practical purposes a pimp that profits off of players that they don’t pay.  Not even going into the multi-millions of dollars that football generates for the member schools of the NCAA in ticket sales, television contracts, sponsorships and merchandise sales, which by the way include name rights to player’s jersey sales the bowl games are a cash cow for the NCAA. In fact this year a player was penalized and ruled ineligible because he sold one of his own game worn jerseys. Each of the BCS games pays out $18 million and even the paltriest of the bowl games net small schools a decent chunk of change on the average $1,141,225.58 excluding the 4 BCS games which are worth $72 million between them.

To be fair there are some “bottom feeder” bowls where the payout is under a half million, but on the whole it is a money making enterprise which feeds on the insatiable need of fans for more football regardless of the quality.  Frankly many bowl games are like fast foot, they fill you up but you will neither remember them nor care the next day, unless you are the school that makes money or a play hoping to get extra visibility in the NFL draft, which makes sense since they don’t get any money in college. Even the NCAA says that only 1.8% of college players will play in the NFL so in effect they are asking the players to throw themselves on a grenade for nothing.

Speaking of nothing, I won’t even go into the “scholarship” business because for the most part NCAA Division I Universities in the major conferences don’t give a damn whether the athlete learns anything or even graduates. The scholarship is a write off to make bigger money for the athletic program.  If a player is smart enough to take advantage of the scholarship knowing that he stands almost no chance of playing in the NLF then more power to him.  However the programs, agents and scouts with rare exceptions don’t care about what the players learn or even worse care about the injuries that these unpaid players will likely incur in their college football career that will impact them the rest of their lives.  The graduation rates for many of the top schools in division 1 football are abysmal with many below the average and only a few schools such as Stanford and Vanderbilt close to 90% both at 89%.  Auburn comes in at 63% while their title game opponent Oregon a dismal 49%.   Of course there are injuries with head injuries are a major issue at all levels of football as are knee injuries which can result in long term physical limitations and even in the case of the neurologic injuries death at an early age and early onset Alzheimer’s disease or forms of dementia.

But I digress….back to the bowl system and the proliferation of bowls that are nothing more than another way to milk the cash cow after the regular season and before the BCS bowls.

It wasn’t always that way.  In 1930 there was one, count it ONE, bowl, and that was the Rose Bowl. By 1935 there were 5, the Rose, Cotton, Orange, Sugar and Sun Bowls.  By 1950 the number of bowls had grown to eight and in 11 by 1970.  The number was up to 15 in 1980, 19 in 1990, 25 in 2000 and 35 now. Now obviously the majority of these games will not be high quality football, I mean who cares if two teams from pathetic conferences with barely winning records even play in a game unless they are the players working their ass of for nothing or the schools and sponsors that benefit from the bowl system?

This year is a case in point.  Even the most avid of college football fans and commentators are wondering what the point is in even watching many of these bowls. If you look at the 58% as a benchmark for which teams get into a post season bowl game and applied it to professional sports the NFL would have 18 playoff eligible teams and baseball 17.  Since the NFL stands to have a 7-9 team win a division can you imagine the quality of play if the NLF allowed that many teams in?

My argument is that the proliferation of bowl games is bad for college football in every way except the pocketbook. It is bad for the players that must sacrifice the Fall-Winter academics to play and risk injury with little payoff. It is bad for fans that are “treated” to game after game of less than quality football in games that due to the BCS system are all meaningless except for the National Championship game.   Of course I have to add to the players and athletic programs of the various schools they mean something but in real terms they matter little except to enhance revenue for the NCAA and the corporate sponsors.

Please know I’m not against business or even schools making money but this is just sad.

So there, that is my take on the farce that we call the college bowl system. A 16 team playoff should be developed for the best teams in the country regardless of which conference they come from. The rest of the teams can go to bowls if they want but the bowl system as we know it needs to be abolished and the NCAA should lose its stranglehold on college football. Is that harsh?

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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