College football's bowl season is upon us once again—a chance for hardcore football fans to have 34 games to watch between teams who generally don’t face off with each other.
If you are fanatic enough about the game, and of course have the time, you will find yourself interested in every single game, no matter what the records.
That is wonderful and all, but it brings us to a point: What exactly should the qualifications for making a bowl be?
It seems that the idea that everyone deserves some sort of reward for just playing a season is getting more and more common.
Now we haven’t breached the point of putting losing teams into bowl games, but we are now in position where the losing team can leave the bowl with a losing record.
Originally the idea was to award the teams who had the best seasons. Over time it has degenerated to teams with a non-losing record are eligible. Why exactly should we be rewarding a team for a non-losing season?
Why are we rewarding teams that were average at best with postseason play?
Isn’t the postseason for teams that had good seasons? Not average?
Of course, with continued insistence on avoiding a playoff, we are using a system that puts more team in postseason play than March Madness, at 68.
Like a playoff system, it can also be argued that the 6-6 teams are not automatically going to lose. Over the past three years teams that entered their bowl with a .500 record ended up 12-11. Not surprisingly, pretty average.
However, unlike basketball, which sets up a David vs. Goliath match, these bowl games tend to feature two average teams against each other. Is it more competitive that way? Sure. Is it more interesting to watch? It can be, as the games are closer, but if you aren’t playing towards something, what is the intrigue in watching these games?
That is what makes the NCAA Tournament exciting; the underdog "6-6"-type team can make a run deep into the tournament. In football that type of team will beat another fairly average team and be done for the year. It is not that big of an upset for a 7-5 team to lose to a 6-6 squad.
Don’t we get enough average games in the conference schedule? The only argument that makes sense to me is that we are able to judge the depth of a conference vs. other conferences. However, you still accomplish this if you cut out the 6-6 teams—the difference being you don’t work ALL the way down the conference depth.
Now that is not to say the teams should decline the bowl—not at all. Use the system that is in place.
This year there are going to be seven games that involve 6-6 teams. As I said in the beginning, I personally enjoy watching bowl games, but would any of us really be that sad if it was cut down to 27 bowls so we featured only winning teams? It should be a more competitive environment once again.
Bowls should be special once again, not given out to over half of the teams.
I like the idea of rewarding as many teams as possible with postseason play in theory—but please, let’s make the teams at least have a winning record!