Bowling for … dollars, apparently: 30 Dec 2010

As of this post, there have been 15 college bowl games played (I’m watching the 16th). If you added up all the minutes that I have watched of these 15 games, you might have a quarter. And the only reason I’m watching the Pinstripe Bowl (excuse me, the New Era Pinstripe Bowl) is because it’s being played in Yankee Stadium.

A lot of folks hate the orgy of sponsorship that has overtaken the bowl games in recent years (the Poulan Weedeater Bowl?), and I’m no exception. When it comes to bowls, I’m a traditionalist. The Peach Bowl is the Peach Bowl, not the Chick-fil-A Bowl.  Even the Orange and Sugar bowls are now sponsored and, gasp, the Rose Bowl.

But I can live with the sponsorship, for the most part. What really kills my excitement for bowl games is the multitude of games that are, truly, meaningless. When 6-6 teams qualify for a bowl that’s played at 1 p.m on Dec. 13, trust me, it’s meaningless. Just look at the menu of teams to date:

UTEP, BYU, Fresno State, Northern Illinois, Troy, Ohio, Southern Miss, Louisville, Utah, Boise St., San Diego St., Navy, Hawaii, Tulsa, Toledo, Florida International, Georgia Tech, Air Force, NC State, West Virginia, Missouri, Iowa, Maryland, East Carolina, Illinois, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Arizona, Army, SMU, Kansas State and Syracuse.

I had to read halfway through that list to even get remotely interested. Nothing against any of the schools, but I ain’t burning a sick day to stay home to watch Fresno State.

Of course, with so many games, you’re going to get less than Tier I commentating. And the booth crews work hard to make their game sound like the last minute of the national championship. In last night’s Texas Bowl (Baylor vs. Illinois), the Illinois (I think) QB broke from the pocket, clearly crossed the line of scrimmage (thanks, magic computer-generated black line) and threw the ball. Of course, a flag was thrown. The comment from the booth, “Boy, it’s awfully close!” He made it sound like Ray Lewis had just laid a head-t0-head hit on a kicker. From each of the 11 angles shown in the 33 replays, the QB clearly crossed the line of scrimmage. A minor penalty that had no affect on the outcome of the game.

Similarly, today’s Pinstripe Bowl is interesting only because of its location, unless you’re a Syracuse or Kansas State fan. It’s an utterly ordinary game between two utterly ordinary teams. But we’re “off to a very entertaining start,” according to the crew, which makes comments about KSU’s offensive power, like, “Nobody has been better inside the 20?” Really? The 62nd-ranked offense in the nation? I bet Oregon would dispute that.

There is one positive thing that could come from the profusion of bowls, though. There are over 60 D-1 teams playing each other in the postseason. Why not structure the bowls into a playoff bracket? The money (and in a few cases, prestige) of playing in a bowl stays, but, in a playoff system, every bowl would be meaningful.

Naaah, never happen.

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