Sunday, December 30, 2012

Bowl games that should be eliminated

-- by @Josh_Suchon

There’s too many bowl games. We know that. We’ve known that for a long time.

Thirty years ago, in 1982, the NCAA sanctioned 16 bowl games.

In 2012, the NCAA sanctioned 35 bowl games.

There’s 124 total Division I football teams. That means 56 percent of college football teams made a bowl game.

In order to be eligible, you must win six games. It doesn’t matter who those six wins come against. It used to be, you needed six wins against Division I opponents (ie. not against Division I-AA or Division II). These days, all that matters is you schedule a university that puts a bunch of dudes in uniforms, and it counts toward becoming bowl eligible.

So which bowls should go?

Let’s start with the obvious bowls that should stay: the BCS Championship, the Rose Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the Outback Bowl (in Tampa), the Capital One Bowl (in Orlando), the Gator Bowl, the Chick-Fil-A Bowl (in Atlanta), the Alamo Bowl, and the Holiday Bowl.

That’s 12 bowls that I think everybody would agree should remain. All those bowls have at least one Top 25 ranked team, and most have two.

That gives us 23 remaining bowls. Let’s start knocking down some bowls:

New Mexico Bowl
Who would want to visit Albuquerque? Nevada vs. Arizona turned into a good matchup, and a high scoring thriller, between two teams that both finished 7-5. But did these team really deserve a bowl? Arizona became bowl eligible by beating Toledo and South Carolina State. Nevada lost four of its last five, and needed to schedule Northwestern State and Texas State to become eligible. GONE

Famous Idaho Bowl
It’s pretty ridiculous playing a bowl game in Idaho. That sounds like more of a punishment than a reward. I’d never go watch my school play that bowl game. But that’s my Los Angeles-based “I live where you vacation” bias. The facts are clear. You had a 10-2 Utah State team against 9-3 Toledo. People in Idaho love football and that blue turf is intriguing for visitors. In a 37,000-seat stadium, 79 percent of the tickets were sold. Not bad. STAY

The Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego
This bowl traditionally matches the second-best team from the underrated Mountain West Conference against an independent team (Navy in 2010, BYU in 2012, Army in 2013 if bowl eligible). It’s played in San Diego, a great tourist destination that usually has warm weather, and at Qualcomm Stadium, where the NFL’s Chargers play and host of many Super Bowls. STAY

Little Caesars Bowl in Detroit
The concept of more teams outside the “Power Five” conferences going to bowl games is a good one. You know, like a 10-2 or 9-3 team from a mid-major conference. But do we really need a bowl between 6-6 Central Michigan and 7-5 Western Kentucky? Not even their fans cared about this game. The attendance was 23,310 (and that’s tickets sold, not butts in seats) for a 65,000-seat stadium. GONE

Pinstripe Bowl in NYC
Playing a football game inside a baseball stadium doesn’t impress me. That’s what they did in the 1950s because they didn’t have single-sport venues. The “novelty” of playing this game at the new Yankee Stadium was gone after the first quarter of the first game. The frigid weather and snow on the field further my belief that is a dumb idea. But evidently, I’m in the minority on this one. Most people love this idea, and New York is a destination city. The matchup this year was Syracuse vs. West Virginia, which sounds like a conference game, but evidently one of these teams is now in the Big 12. STAY

Kraft Hunger Bowl in SF
Did I mention I’m not impressed by a football game inside a baseball stadium? This one is played at AT&T Park in San Francisco. I’m sure Giants fans don’t like their outfield getting torn up. But again, I’m in the minority on using baseball stadiums for a bowl game. San Francisco is an incredible city, although the weather is dreadful in late December and it’s usually pouring rain. The sixth-best team from the Pac-12 was Arizona State (7-5). They played Navy (8-4), which was guaranteed a berth if they were eligible. STAY

Car Care Bowl of Texas
Minnesota went 2-6 in a bad Big 10 conference. But they were eligible because they beat – are you ready for this? – UNLV (in 3 OTs), New Hampshire, Western Michigan and Syracuse. Texas Tech bloated its record by beating Northwestern State, Texas State and New Mexico to become bowl eligible at 7-5. Why are these teams being rewarded? GONE

Hawaii Bowl in Honolulu
A free trip to Honolulu is the whole point of bowl games. It’s a reward for a good season. Unfortunately, with the glut of games, this games usually involves Hawaii (if it’s bowl eligible) against a team from Texas. Hawaii wasn’t bowl eligible this year, so we got 6-6 SMU (former Hawaii coach June Jones’ new team) against a deserving 9-3 Fresno State team that was tri-champions of the Mountain West. Fewer bowls would give better matchups in the future. STAY

Beef O’Brady’s Bowl in St. Petersburg
Yet another bowl game played inside a baseball stadium. Of course, calling Tropicana Field a baseball stadium is a stretch.  The Trop doesn’t inspire people like Yankee Stadium and AT&T Park does. There’s enough bowl games in Florida. There’s enough in the Tampa-St. Pete area (the Outback Bowl is in Tampa). The bowl was created in 2008. Nobody will miss this bowl. In fact, most don’t know it even exists. GONE

Heart of Dallas Bowl
This is confusing. This game is played at the site of the old Cotton Bowl stadium, but it’s not called the Cotton Bowl. The current Cotton Bowl is played in Arlington, the site of the Cowboys’ new stadium. This should be called the Bait-and-Wwitch bowl. GONE

New Orleans Bowl
This isn’t the Sugar Bowl. It’s not even the JV version of the Sugar Bowl. This is the freshman version of the Sugar Bowl. There’s already enough excuses to visit New Orleans. We don’t need another. You want proof? My alma mater, San Diego State, played in this game in 2011. I had zero interest in going. GONE

Belk Bowl in Charlotte
Mocking the name of the corporation that bought naming rights to a bowl got old a decade ago. But it never gets old mocking the Belk Bowl. Really. Belk? This was originally the Queen City Bowl. It’s the fifth-best ACC team against the third-best from the Big East. This year’s matchup was 9-3 Cincinnati against 6-6 Duke. It was a big deal that Duke finally reached a bowl game. Of course, they had to schedule NC Central (3-9) and Florida International (3-9) to get eligible. GONE

Military Bowl in DC
This bowl was created to ensure that a military academy can go bowling. For all those kids do, that’s pretty cool. This year, the designated service academy (Army) wasn’t eligible, and the ACC didn’t have enough eligible teams either, so it was two wild cards. I watched part of this game. The ESPN graphic listed BGSU. I had no idea what school that was. Turns out, it’s Bowling Green State. They played a 10-2 San Jose State that’s one of the feel-good stories of college football, which deserved a bowl in a better location. It’s played at RFK Stadium in DC, the old Redskins home. Attendance was 17,835. Gee, I wonder why the alums of a commuter school in the shadow of Stanford didn’t want to travel 3,000 miles to play a school whose acronym looks like something from the periodic table of elements. GONE

Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth
What’s the difference between the Armed Forces Bowl and Military Bowl? The service academies are only invited to this bowl if the Mountain West and Conference USA don’t have enough eligible teams. It’s basically “the Air Force bowl” because they’re already in the Mountain West. Air Force went 6-6 this year. They lost to a 2-11 UNLV team. They had to beat a 1-10 Idaho State team the first week to get eligible. They played Rice, who started the year 1-5, lost to a 4-8 Memphis team, and had to beat UT-San Antonio to get eligible. GONE

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe
This used to be the Copper Bowl in Tucson. Then it was the Insight Bowl played at the Arizona Diamondbacks’ stadium in Phoenix. Boy, do people love playing bowl games in baseball stadiums or what? Then the Fiesta Bowl moved from the Arizona State campus in Tempe to the NFL’s Cardinals new home in Glendale. That opened up Sun Devil Stadium for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Got it? I’m not wild about 7-5 TCU vs. 6-6 Michigan State. But given the history of this bowl, and that it’s played in a warm weather place, it just needs a better matchup. Oh yeah, and it should always go overtime. STAY

Liberty Bowl in Memphis
This is one of the longest-running, non-BCS games with a fascinating history. Memphis is usually warm and full of history. This bowl suffers from the glut of games. It now features the Conference USA champion against the eighth-best team from the SEC. What does that say about C-USA that its champion, Tulsa, would play another conference’s  eighth best? Again, the SEC didn’t have eight eligible teams, so Iowa State was plucked instead. Iowa State, by the way, finished ninth in the Big 12. I feel really sorry for Tulsa and hope they win by four touchdowns. If they don’t, it justifies awarding bowl games to nine teams from one conference. STAY

Music City Bowl in Nashville
This game usally gets pretty teams from the SEC and ACC, meaning teams from the top half. This year, it's 8-4 Vanderbilt against 7-5 North Carolina State. This bowl is not to be confused with the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. Nashville is a great city. The attendance last year was 55,208. That’s enough for me. STAY

Sun Bowl in El Paso
This is another long-running, non-BCS bowl with a strong history. That strong history is inviting teams that don’t want to be there. This year, the honor goes to USC, which showed up 90 minutes late for a mutual dinner with opponent Georgia Tech. Enraged by the lack of support, Georgia Tech got up and left the dinner in protest when USC arrived. Oh yeah, Georgia Tech needed a waiver to even play. They won the required six games, but lost seven. One team shouldn’t be there. The other team doesn’t want to be there. Plenty of tickets still available! GONE

Go Daddy Bowl in Mobile
The name of this bowl doesn’t bother me. I’d never want to visit Mobile, but at least there’s a decent chance for good weather. Even though I didn’t know Kent State and Arkansas State were Division I teams, I don’t mind them playing this game. I just learned they both won nine or more games. Good for them. I like deserving mid-majors getting exposure. My issue is this game shouldn’t be played on Jan. 6th, which gives the impression it’s more important than the Rose Bowl. It should be the second bowl game played, not the second-to-last. STAY

BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham
This matches the ninth-best team from the SEC against a team from the Big East. You get rewarded for being the NINTH BEST TEAM in a conference? And it’s played on January 5th? GONE

Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando
This is the JV version of the Capital One Bowl. It’s played at the Citrus Bowl, which was once the name of a bowl, but is now the name of a stadium. It was born as the Blockbuster Bowl and played in Miami, back when Wayne Huizenga owned the Dolphins and Blockbuster. It was once called the Tangerine Bowl, the original name of the more prestigious Capital One Bowl.  It also had six other corporate names in the last two decades. Despite all the confusion, it gets good opponents from the top conferences, and Notre Dame once every four years, and drew 68,305 fans. Even if it’s confusing, it works. Plus, kids love DisneyWorld. So did grown-ups. STAY

Independence Bowl in Shreveport
This used to be the third-best Mountain West team against the seventh-best ACC team. Now, the Mountain West was replaced by the 10th-best SEC team. That’s not a typo. The 10th-best team from the SEC gets an invite. Shockingly enough, the ACC didn’t have seven bowl eligible teams and the SEC didn’t have 10 bowl eligible teams. That led to 8-4 Ohio (which lost four of its last five games) against Louisiana-Monroe (which became Division I in 1994 and used to be called NE Louisiana). Seriously, this is a bowl game? GONE

My original goal was to eliminate 10 bowls. I was stuck on eight for awhile. Then with more research, I got rid of 12. It was almost 14, but I kept the two iconic baseball stadium bowl games because the public seems to like it. A lot of my eliminations were the JV games in cities, or super cold weather cities, or mid-majors who barely qualify. Those games are a waste of time and money. I feel like a heel for eliminating both bowls that have a military tie-in. Maybe one should stay.

But overall, with 12 eliminated, we’re down to 23 games and 46 teams. That seems like a reasonable number to me.

Which bowls would you eliminate? 

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