College Football Bowl Games: Tis the Season to be Greedy

College Bowl Games 

At one time in America there was only one Championship College Bowl football game. Then there were five, and now in the last decade or so the field has expanded to include approximately 40 games, with 15 of the 80 participating teams having losing records.

The five original bowl games were also generically named for something having to do with local custom or local identity. For example, the Rose Bowl was named for the annual Parade of Roses and capped a daylong event that originally had nothing to do with football in the first place.

Then there were the Orange, Cotton, Sugar, and Sun Bowls also generically identified for regional, agricultural, or local reasons, all of which were played on New Year’s Day. In fact, if it were not for the redeeming quality of bowl games there would have been almost nothing else to salvage the boredom of having to be at Uncle Jimmy’s House every New Year’s Day and no other reasonable place for him to invest his mercurial emotional outbursts, except to yell at certain plays.

Limiting the number of bowl events usually meant that the eight best college football teams were competing; although it is still the case that even today the authorities for some unknown reason have had a block-headed inability to pair the number one team with number two; and just get it over with.

Therefore, in the usual permutations of unpredictable college football scores it was frequently the case that in the aftermath of upsets and counter-upsets, by the time the entire process is over, the number one ranking was often still in dispute. This always precipitated a good weeks’ worth of debated editorial sports writing that was a carbon copy of the prior year’s press.

Eventually, the problem was eliminated by the BCS Championship bracketing system; which finally determined a formal champion.

Then along came corporate money and sponsorships; after which the games exploded exponentially, and the contest names became proprietary. Even some of the stadiums sold out to greed  by attaching their caches to corporate logos. The original generic bowl names have now been usurped by incongruous names such as Fed-Ex, Citi, Allstate, Alamo, Chic-Fil-A and Rotates. Even at the professional level, the New England Patriots no longer play at the Foxborough Stadium; but now call their home field The Gillette Stadium. This is a curiously incongruous oxymoronic sponsorship, as I am sure that the fans want nothing whatsoever to do with games that come out either as close shaves or make the bookies happy by point shaving.

The current investment in forty college bowl games is a ludicrous example of Corporate and Telecommunication Company’s advertising monetary greed  that play on the sentiments of die-hard alumni or fans who either simply cannot live without watching that one last game of the year, or who have nothing else at all to occupy their time as they watch the contests solely out of sheer boredom. It also gives professional scouts one final chance to evaluate prospective players, while the rest of the team, including the Pro prospects themselves, get one last chance to sustain a career ending injury. Forget the players please, when it’s only about the advertising money.

Otherwise the games are completely meaningless, especially when a team whose record is 7-5 plays against a team that went 5-7; unless of course one believes that second tier bragging rights have any merit.

  • Yeah man, at the end of the season we were ranked number 58.
  • Do tell? Well we were 57, so even if you win; you won’t come out ahead.

The entire concept of the “second season” plays out even more ludicrously at the level of professional sports.

The World Series now ends in October, with games occasionally being snowed out. Also, the victorious team has to play a minimum of eleven or a maximum of nineteen games to get the trophy instead of just four to seven, as it was when there were only two leagues and two league Pennant champions

Professional hockey on the other hand ironically ends in the heat of June, with the only teams not reaching playoff status being the last place ones in each division. This means theoretically that a team with the third or fourth best season finishing record could ultimately end up holding The Stanley Cup; or a second-tier baseball Wild Card team could end holding The Commissioner’s Trophy.

At least professional golf continues the more civilized approach of a result based solely on personal achievement. One can only keep his tour card if he finishes in the top 125 on the money list. No second season. At number 126 you are out.

All this being the case, there is no reason bowl games should not expand to further allow a team like Duke, which until several years usually went 0-12 to play for the bragging rights of being the absolute worst college football team by being pitted against another team that went 1-11. Then, because for decades they always had the worst annual records, the game could predictably be played every year at Duke after they re-name the venue as the American Tobacco Stadium. It could also then be sponsored by Purina and called the Alpo Dog Food Bowl. Thankfully, they finally found a good coach and began to recruit athletes who could really play football.

It was also a good thing that when George Steinbrenner moved the Yankees to their new stadium, he didn’t let a Japanese sponsor have a chance at picking up the tab on the new construction. If he had I shudder to think what Billy Martin, who hated the Japanese with a passion for starting the second World War would do if he found out the new field would be called the Nissan Motors Yankee Stadium.

He might have rolled over in the grave, got his World War II flamethrowers out of mothballs and fired them up again. But not just to heat up popcorn kernels at the stadium vendor’s booths.



Please give me just a one more last chance

Before you say we’re through

(Vince Gill)





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