There Are Too Many Bowl Games
[lead align=”default”]These are words I thought I’d never say just a few years ago, but there are too many bowl games in college football.[/lead]
I have been hesitant to come to that conclusion over the years, but as the number of bowl has expanded to a preposterous level, it must be said.
This year, including the College Football Playoff, there are 41 bowl games, and in one of them the two teams play a second time. That gives you 80 teams in bowls. Ten years ago, during the 2006 bowl season, there were 32 games, with 64 teams.
FBS has grown a little since then. Yet, when you’re letting 80 teams out of 128 play in a bowl game, it dilutes their importance. Teams are regularly rewarded for going 6-6 or even 5-7, but someone must fill those slots. Nowadays, a school can be mediocre and still get to a bowl game. As for why they deserve it, who is to say.
FBS college football can afford to shed five or six bowl games with no questions asked, though some would call for a lot more. Lots of fans love bowl games, but this is a clear case of when too much of a good thing hurts.
Attendance At Bowl Games
The jury is still out on the 2016-17 bowl season, but as of last year, the trend was not college football’s friend. As of 2015-16 bowl season, attendance was down on average for a sixth consecutive year, thanks in part to adding more bowls.
From what we’ve seen now, some bowls actually went up this year in attendance, thanks to some local teams playing. That won’t be the case every year, however. Meanwhile, you have games like the Miami Beach Bowl where they hardly drew anyone at all, and haven’t in three years. Contests like that can and should be on the chopping block.
In a separate but equal issue from attendance, we all know why the ratings were down for the College Football Playoff. Thanks to the obstinacy of some, those semifinal games last year were played on New Year’s Eve, when people tend to have plans that don’t include being at home watching TV. The people in charge of such things want to keep it that way, but don’t be surprised when the ratings don’t spike this year.
Bowl Games and the Almighty Dollar
As long as bowls are profitable, they will continue to exist. ESPN controls a handful of them, including some without corporate sponsorship, but they sell ads. Someone is giving these people money, if not paying fans in attendance, so they continue. Likewise, the growth of bowl season will proceed as well if the possibilities for cash are there.
Who is to say they’ll stop at 41? What if some other stadium and subsequent bowl committee see an opportunity for a quick buck and start another one? How long until we start backfilling these games with 4-8 teams? At some point, the madness has to stop. Frankly, there are a handful of crap teams playing in these games now. I’m not sure why more of them getting into bowls would be a good thing.
Of course, logic and quality of play is not the governing factor.