Blog Entry

Roundtable: Changes to the bowl schedule

Posted on: December 21, 2011 6:55 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 7:10 pm
Posted by Eye On College Football 

Occasionally the Eye on CFB team gathers, Voltron-style, to answer a pressing question from the world of college football. Today's question is:

What changes, if any, would you make to the current bowl schedule and/or bowl eligibility requirements?

Bryan Fischer: Any time you have a team like UCLA playing in a game at 6-7, I think it underscores that there needs to be a new rule that you not only be 6-6, but 7-5 at the very minimum. I get that the bowl games are a treat for the players but shouldn't we be rewarding winners and not the mediocre? The entire bowl system seems to have turned into the college football equivalent of a participation trophy. This, of course, ties-in with the line of reasoning that there are too many bowl games. At some point we'll get to the point where there's a good number of games for good teams but right now the excess causes mediocrity. For every crazy New Orleans Bowl finish we get, there's just as many Beef O'Brady Bowl duds it seems.

Tom Fornelli: I tend to agree with Bryan in that I'm not a big fan of 6-6 teams being rewarded for mediocrity, and I usually fall in line with the "there are too many bowl games" crowd, but then a funny thing happens every year. The games start, and they feature a couple of 6-6 teams, and I love them.

Yeah, there are some duds, but there are plenty of duds every Saturday during the regular season. So I think my personal criticisms from the current bowl system come from the fact that I'd like to see some type of playoff. A plus-one being the minimum of what I'd like to see.  So while I get extremely annoyed when I see that 6-6 Florida is playing 6-6 Ohio State in the Gator Bowl, I'm sorry, the TAXSLAYER.COM (bangs head, SIGN OF THE BEAST!!!) Gator Bowl, I'll probably still watch the game. I'm just a college football junkie, there's no way around it.

Jerry Hinnen: There's an easier fix for getting the UCLA-like riffraff out of the postseason than scuttling existing bowls: re-institute the discarded NCAA mandate that bowls must take teams with winning records ahead of teams with .500 (or sub-.500, in the Bruins' case) marks. "Too many bowls" is going to be a hard sell for the folks at places like Temple -- who unfairly sat at home after going 8-4 in Al Golden's final season last year -- or Western Kentucky, who should have gotten their first-ever FBS bowl bid after 2011's second-place Sun Belt finish and 7-5 record.

Cases like Temple's and WKU's are why, personally speaking, I'm fine-n'-dandy with the Participation Trophy Bowl circuit; not every game is going to be riveting theater (and matchups like UCLA-Illinois or Louisville-N.C. State promise to be quite the opposite), but it's not like anyone's required to watch. Should the seniors on that UL-Lafayette team we saw celebrating like they'd collectively won the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes Saturday night have been denied that once-in-not-even-most-people's-lifetimes experience just because a few college football diehards don't want to risk being bored?

Is the long-since-antiquated notion that bowl berths are for no one but mid-major champions and the top handful of major-conference programs worth brilliant Hilltoppers' running back Bobby Rainey ending his career without a bowl appearance? Not if you ask me--if the players want to play them, the the local organizers want to host them, it's not my place (or any fan's) to say they shouldn't. The number of bowls is fine; the way the teams are selected could just use a little pro-winning-record tweaking. Besides, give it another month and there won't be any college football at all. I'll take whatever I can get at this stage, Belk Bowl included.

(That said, it would be outstanding if the NCAA also prohibited the exorbitant ticket guarantees that have turned bowl trips into a financial sinkhole for so many smaller schools, but that's a separate issue from the scheduling/eligibility question.)

Chip Patterson: I too would like to see limping 6-6 BCS conference team taken out of the bowl equation, particularly when there are dangerous Non-BCS teams that have been left out of postseason play in recent years. One way could be to change the requirements to 7-5, but this season I thought of another wrinkle.

Instead of changing the bowl eligibility record/win total, add a stipulation that requires a team to finish .500 or better in league play. Many times, the 6-6 team that fails to show up for a bowl game has struggled down the stretch and enters the postseason with little-to-no momentum. If schools are going to benefit from conference tie-ins, make them perform in conference play to earn that right. A 6-6 team with a 3-5 conference record likely is not playing their best football at the end of the season, and might be a part of one of the dud bowl games we have seen recently.

I would also prefer to move the "gutter" bowl games back before the BCS and traditional New Years Day games. That stretch of bowls leading up to the National Championship Game is one of the places where we find unattractive matchups and lose college football excitement after the blitz of New Years Day. If those games were moved back before the New Year and the title game was pushed back to Jan 4-5, it would arguably be a better spot for college football to capitalize on the nation's interest. Not only does the average fan have to wait, but they have to be teased with games that would be better consumed in pieces during a Dec. 28 doubleheader.

Adam Jacobi: It's important to keep in mind that most of these lowest-tier bowls are media-owned entities, which were created and staged every year because from a media perspective, live televised FBS college football is more lucrative than anything else that could be aired in the middle of a December week. As such, if you want to get rid of these bowls, you had better come up with something that produces higher ratings for that network instead, otherwise, no amount of hand-wringing about the quality of the teams playing in bowls is going to result in any meaningful change. This is not a scandal or anything that should not be, mind you, because it does not negatively affect fairness of play or anything else of vital importance. It's merely the entity that stands to gain most from lowest-tier bowls being played, making sure that the lowest-tier bowls get played by owning and organizing them. That's just good business.

Moreover, if by some chance these lowest-tier bowls happen to disappear, as much as we're tired of seeing a 6-6 (3-5) BCS-conference team get into the postseason, let's not pretend that that team's going to be the first against the wall. It's going to be the also-rans of the MAC, WAC, C-USA, and every other non-AQ conference, because 90% of the time, those non-AQ schools draw lower ratings than their BCS-level counterparts. The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl between UCLA and Illinois is going to suck, but if we're being honest about what bowl organizers really want out of a team that they invite, UCLA and Illinois are going to keep getting bowl invitations over even 8-win teams like Tulsa, Toledo, or Louisiana Tech.

So if you're asking me what I would change about the bowl system, I wouldn't possibly know where or how to begin. The bowl system is a product of media desires and inequality in FBS football, so if you want the bowl system to be any different, you'd better figure out a way to fix either the media landscape or the college football landscape first, and well... good luck with that.

Tom Fornelli: What if we replace the mid-week December games with gladiator like competitions? In which players from each school battle each other to the death. The loser, obviously, dies and frees up a scholarship for the school. The winner gets extra credit in any class of his choosing!


Adam Jacobi: Well, that would certainly be heartbreaking for everyone involved.

I wouldn't mind it if the sponsors (or bowl organizers or the stadium) had a little bit of leeway in ground rules for these games. These are silly games anyway (unless I'm supposed to take something called the Beef O'Brady's Bowl completely seriously all of a sudden), so why shouldn't the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl be played with literally a giant potato for a football? Field goals in the Holiday Bowl worth 4 points if they're from more than 45 yards out? Fine by me! Special uniforms in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl designed to look like boxes of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese? OF COURSE we should be doing that.

So yeah, as long as we're going to have ultimately trivial exhibitions end the seasons of so many teams, we might as well make said trivial exhibitions unique in ways that go beyond mere branding.

Tom Fornelli: These ideas have my full support.  Can you imagine how much better the Orange Bowl would be if they were using an orange instead of a football?

Chip Patterson: Did they change tires on car at half time of the Meineke Car Care Bowl? If not they should.  Same goes for the Belk Bowl. I think instead of a coin toss there should be a Dockers shopping spree to determine who gets the ball first.

Adam Jacobi: And if Hooters got involved, there would be... lots of wings available for attending fans to eat. And that is all.

To chime in on the bowl schedule debate, or offer your own changes; "Like" us on Facebook and let us know what you think.

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Since: Mar 26, 2008
Posted on: December 31, 2011 9:26 pm

Roundtable: Changes to the bowl schedule

If we're going to try to make bowl games more interesting we need to go more dramatic than your current plans. Take the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl for example. Both coaches are fired, both teams are .500 or below, we need to get pretty dramatic to spice things up. Kraft needs to take charge here and force some new rules on these teams for being so bad for the bowl game.

Rule 1: No punting whatsoever. If you punt, it is the other team's ball at the spot of the punt plus a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the coach that called the punt.

Rule 2: Field goals are now worth 1 point.

Rule 3: While kicking field goals there is no longer a roughing the kicker penalty

Rule 4: Extra points do not count. 

Rule 5: To compensate for the now worthless extra point, two point conversions are now worth 3 points, but must be attempted from the 5 yard line

Rule 6: Every kickoff must now be an onside kick.

Rule 7: The cheerleaders for the game must be topless

Rule 8: The announcers for the game are a new special crew: Jenny McCarthy and Abby McGrew Manning (both topless and making out the entire time) while Dave Chappelle provides play by play and color commentary for what is going on the field and in the booth.

The ratings for this game would top the Super Bowl and save the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

Since: Oct 20, 2011
Posted on: December 25, 2011 8:19 am

Roundtable: Changes to the bowl schedule

There are no bowl games on Christmas day, or New Years Day. I can live with nothing on Christmas, but no bowl games on New Years? Really? That's a travesty. That needs to be fixed. Happy Holidays to all!

Since: Nov 5, 2011
Posted on: December 24, 2011 1:49 pm

Roundtable: Changes to the bowl schedule

The only "tragic perversion of college athletics" is that for far too many people they have become more important than academic quality. But as far as it goes I agree completely with your comment. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours.

Since: Sep 3, 2011
Posted on: December 24, 2011 12:41 pm

Roundtable: Changes to the bowl schedule

Clemson and WVU won conference titles. The teams that got BCS bowls that did not deserve them over Stanford, K State and Boise would have to be Virginia Tech and Michigan.

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: December 24, 2011 12:41 pm

Roundtable: Changes to the bowl schedule

If we're seriously about equality in finding a National Champion; then let's do this:

11 Conferences - 11 Bids.   You don't win your conference, tough.

1 at Large - if the Independents have a 9-3 team AND ranked in the top 25; they're in, otherwise the top ranked non-conference champion.

This year we'd have: Oklahoma St, Clemson, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Southern Miss, Ohio, TCU, Oregon, LSU, La Tech, Arkansas St. and Alabama for the At Large Bid.

By rankings they'd be seeded; 5-12 would play while 1-4 would get a 1st round by.   +1 Game
Re-Seeded according to standing rankings or not.   If not - then if #1 and #2 are really that - they'll meet in the Champship.
So - the Great 8 play.   +1
Final Four Play +1
Championship +1     That's Four Extra Games - AT Most but most likely at best 3 games for everyone unless a total Cinderella gets to the Championship Game.

Move the regular season back to 11 games; for teams not in the play-off, they can schedule exhibition or exhibition bowl games.

What does this accomplish?  
-Besides a team like Stanford getting screwed, it gives every team from every conference a shot to EARN the championship on the field.  Not by popular vote
-It give actual meaning to the conference championships again (no more Nebraskas nor OU in the championship when they didn't win their conference)
-This would be a money maker as you are certain to have some big

Negatives: there will be some very good teams with huge followings left out of the playoff.
Meaningless bowls will still exists but to a lesser degree with the "Have-Nots"; sponsorship would be more focused on the playoff.
There will be upsets and the "popular" team won't always be champion
There will be conference realignment as some teams will move to more natural rivalries (very possible that there could be a new "all-Texas" conference like the SWC again).   Bigger may not be better; potentially could see smaller conferences apply for AQ Status.
The SEC and Big 10 with their Bowl alliances would be hurt the most perception wise which about 65% of the population market is covered in their territory.

Since: Jan 6, 2008
Posted on: December 24, 2011 10:43 am

Roundtable: Changes to the bowl schedule

I'm not a Boise State, Stanford, or Kansas St fan, but everyone in the country can see what needs to be fixed when these teams are left out, and West Virginia and Clemson are invited.  This is a tragic perversion of college athletics.  Markets now determine which teams play for trophies, not performance!   Thank you, Boise St for proving this to the nation last night!  UCLA, Illinois, Ohio St, Florida....will prove nothing!

The NFL lost paying fans years ago, when it began catering to TV contracts over loyal, direct fan support.  The NCAA is now on the same track.  Good luck with the TV contracts when the economy goes bust and the corporate support is no longer there! 

Since: Jul 9, 2010
Posted on: December 23, 2011 9:07 pm

Roundtable: Changes to the bowl schedule

First of all, I am one of the guys who love the bowl games.  However, I think there needs to be some serious tweaking to the present bowls and schedules. It is my opinion that the Cotton bowl should be a fifth destination for the BCS Bowls in Dallas where the Cowboys play. It would be a great venue for a BCS game. The Cotton Bowl is one of the original bowl venues from way back. Therefore, the 5 BCS Bowls would be the Rose, Orange, Sugar, Cotton and the Fiesta Bowls, and the BCS Championship game would rotate between these 5 bowls.
I also feel that all of the other Bowl games should be played before the BCS games are played. The FBS bowl season should definitely end with the 5 BCS games being played last. To end, I think there are a few bowl games played too early, and some of the colder destinations should be eliminated. These are my opinions only.

Since: Oct 8, 2009
Posted on: December 23, 2011 3:34 pm

Roundtable: Changes to the bowl schedule


You reaffirm my point.  The bad teams should not be invited to a bowl game.  Having a committee rank all bowl eligible teams would produce better matchups for the fans to watch.  Further, potential bowl sponsors would have to pony up the cash if they would like to put their company name on a bowl.

Arizona St got embarassed on live TV last night.  I was hoping that Boise St would put up 80+ points against ASU.  Teams that are 6-6, or 7-5, are bad for a number of reasons and should not be playing in a bowl game. 

Get the best teams...seed them...and enjoy the matchups.  35 bowl games are far too many.  Rewarding mediocre play is bad business.

Since: Oct 23, 2011
Posted on: December 23, 2011 1:28 pm

Roundtable: Changes to the bowl schedule

Seriously are any of you commentators watching the games, or are you like most coaches in the coaches' poll going on reputation.  The New Orleans Bowl and the Famous Potato Bowl were thrillers.  The Beef O-Brady bowl was a defensive match-up that I was not expecting with T.Y Hilton and kept me glued to the screen! I enjoy college football that is played with heart and grit so stop putting down the bowls -when the committee does its work and matches teams that have a winning record and a want to be there the game is amazing.  ASU is a prime example that "Big Boys" have some heavy weights but once you get into the middle (Florida, Ohio State,  Iowa State, UCLA, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, to name but one team from the Big Boy 6) they are no better, or many times worse, than the teams in the small boy conferences.  As to selecting teams the win/lose record should not be the only gauge; the bowl committees should also look at strength of schedule, wins and losses in conference play and the final three games of the season. 

Since: Sep 30, 2011
Posted on: December 22, 2011 2:17 pm

Roundtable: Changes to the bowl schedule

@arky111 - I actually like that.  I think it would give the smaller conference teams a better shot at getting into a bowl game and see how they stack up.  It would be interesting to watch and probably help recruiting if the smaller schools win a few.

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