College Football on New Year's Day 2011: Just Another Regular CFB Saturday
Outside of the Rose and Fiesta Bowls, college football on New Year's Day 2011 looked a lot like a Saturday football schedule during the regular season: average teams playing in regional bowl games.
I can recall when New Year's Day was when families got together and watched the Rose Parade in the morning and then quality football all day long—the best teams in the country playing on the biggest stage of college football.
Moms would make snacks, the kids would drink sodas and dads would drink beer and talk to the TV on almost every down as if the coaches and players could hear them.
Now we have the BCS and 35 college football bowl games. I hate to say it, but New Year's Day football ain't what it used to be.
What the Heck Is the TicketCity Bowl?
Here's an example of how irrelevant the New Year's Day bowls have become. I couldn't find a Getty photo of the TicketCity Bowl to post here; the photo is of a Texas Tech home game in honor of their blowout of an equally average Northwestern team.
I guess this game was broadcast on one of the ESPN channels, but I couldn't find it. But I'm sure you didn't miss much unless you were a fan of the two teams playing.
By the way, who thought up the TicketCity Bowl, and why would anyone want to add another mediocre bowl game to the schedule?
Capital One: The Old Citrus Bowl
Now this game has always been played on New Year's, and based on the two teams scheduled, it should have been a quality matchup. Instead we got a beatdown of Big Ten co-champion Michigan State by Alabama. I only wished it had been more competitive.
What does this say about the Big Ten? Is the conference in decline, or is the SEC just that good? My vote says decline due to its 0-5 showing on January 1.
Outback Bowl: The Old Tangerine Bowl?
We have two 7-5 teams in this game; just another regular Saturday game, right? The only draw here in my opinion is that this was Urban Meyer's last game (or was it?) facing off against Joe Pa.
Forget the teams, as both were just average during the regular season, so why are they here? The game was competitive until the fourth quarter, but again, unless you are a diehard fan of these teams, was this truly the best matchup?
There were better teams with better records playing in lesser bowl games that would have drawn more interest. Unfortunately, this bowl is under contract with the SEC and Big Ten, so during this time slot we could only watch another SEC versus Big Ten contract matchup in the Capital One Bowl.
I guess these bowl committees think there are only two conferences in the country.
Gator Bowl Used to Be Played Before New Year's
Again, just another regular season Saturday game. Two average teams playing in a bowl game that got moved to New Year's Day due to the BCS bowl system.
Not only average, but this was really a boring game too. Michigan, 7-5 (3-5), playing uninspired football for a lame duck coach, facing off against an 8-4 (4-4) Mississippi State team that's on the rise.
By the way, at 3-5 in conference, how did Michigan get placed here in a New Year's Day bowl? Oops, I forgot—this is another SEC versus Big Ten contract bowl. Oh well, at least I had the crossword puzzle to do during this game.
Rose Bowl: The Granddaddy
Now here's a deserving game that I'm sure almost every college football fan in America watched.
The story line was great for this game. Wisconsin, Big Ten co-champions with its huge offensive line and hard, pounding running game, versus TCU with one of the best run defenses in the country and a quarterback headed to the NFL. An underdog BCS AQ team against a favored mid-major qualifier.
This game deserved to be on the big stage and pre-BCS probably would have been for the national championship.
This was the game of the day and personally I think for the entire bowl season so far. The game was highly competitive and exciting with big plays on both sides of the ball. It was only right that this game came down to a two-point conversion attempt. This is what New Year's Day football is supposed to look like.
Fiesta Bowl: Best Matchup?
Okay, we have two BCS AQ teams here, but was this really the best matchup for this bowl? The Big East champion UConn Huskies at 7-5 versus the Big 12 champion Sooners at 11-2?
This game seemed to become competitive at the end of the first half with UConn scoring late to make it 20-10 and take momentum into the locker room. Unfortunately, beginning the second half UConn ran into a buzz saw, and the game was pretty much over.
The matchup here should have been OU versus Stanford with UConn playing VT in the Orange Bowl. I believe that this would have made both games more competitive with a larger draw for college football fans.
In the middle of the third quarter I went back to my NYT crossword, as that was more entertaining than this game.
Orange and Cotton Bowls: Belong on New Year's Day
The Orange and Cotton Bowls both belong on New Year's Day, but in the big-money BCS era this is not the case.
Rather than have two nationally renowned and storied bowls on New Year's Day, we get the TicketCity Bowl (?) and the Gator Bowl—two regional bowl games at best, with really no national interest in who was playing in these bowls.
My apologies to the associated teams who played, but did anyone outside of those teams' fanbases really care to watch these games? Both were blowouts and not very entertaining.
The Orange Bowl was a blowout as well due to Stanford's second half smackdown of VT. This bowl would have been more competitive if UConn and Stanford were in opposite bowls.
ESPN and the BCS: The King Is Dead, Long Live the King
There are now 35 bowl games, which is probably 15 too many. I don't know about you, but I didn't really watch many of them, as they were mostly average teams that really didn't deserve postseason play.
In the end, it's all about making money. Huge advertising dollars for Disney's ABC/ESPN as they broadcast 31 of the 35 games on their networks.
The BCS takeover of college football and how the BCS AQ conferences have exerted control over the scheduling of bowl games and who plays who are just two reasons for this downward spiral. The BCS is now the king in college football, and ESPN is their lackey.
New Year's Day college football used to be the king of football days, but those days are dead. No more great days watching great football being played on the greatest stage by the best teams. So sad.
"The King is dead, long live the King."