In days gone by, winners were lauded because they had accomplished something that was certainly laudable. The winner had set themselves apart because they had won the most games, beaten their competition and/or prevailed in a championship tournament.
In today's "PC" society, where money often speaks louder than accomplishments, teams that do not win their conference, do not beat their competition or win the championship competition, are often honored by being deemed "bowl-eliglble."
A program becomes "bowl-eligible" by attaining an overall record of slightly more (although not always) than .500. There is no requirement that those opponents be equal to, or better than, the program, just able to field a team and participate in a game.
"Bowl-eligible" means that the school gets to spend money for an additional month of practices, employ various services to facilitate their program participating in the game, and keep their student-athletes out of class. We are told that the school "makes" money, but all too often, they do not.
I have jokingly named these games the "Whats-a-Matta-U" bowl games because I am Italian, enjoy self-deprecating humor, but more so because I wonder where our values have gone. Very often, the bowl games are in venues which support the sponsors and do nothing more than provide a forum for advertising. I am curious, however, as to what good such advertising is if no one watches.
The overwhelming point is to wonder why we extol mediocrity and give credibility to it.
If you take a program like Rutgers - the State University of New Jersey - which has been roundly criticized by Bloomberg for spending more than any state university without a single return on their investment, you might understand my point.
Last week, Rutgers, who was in contention for a "share" of the toothless Big East title, lost miserably, but yet their entire football program is still practicing ardently because they have been deemed "bowl-eligible." They still do not know where that bowl game is, or against whom.
The "winner" of the Big East may have an identical conference record to another program, but then be considered the "winner" because of their BCS ranking. They will not be feted to a guaranteed bowl locale, just a guarantee they will be invited somewhere, but then so will the others. This makes sense to some, but leaves many of us scratching our proverbial heads.
This all seems to make sense to some in today's convoluted "kumbaya" society where, unless you are an abject failure or commit a crime, you are roundly considered to be a success.
In a day, age, and season where there are record number of Americans out of work, wondering if they will have a job next week, or being forced to live on some sort of assistance, this simply does not makes sense.
Billy Joel sang "The good old days weren't always good ..." but the truth of the matter is that in the "... good old days ..." we did not reward mediocrity simply because a company wanted some high profile advertising.