Monday, December 16, 2013

College Bowls 2013-14

by Bill Holmes 

The Ridiculous College Bowl Season

On Saturday, December 21, 2013 there will be the first four of 35 NCAA sanctioned division one a.k.a. Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) college bowl games. The last game will be the BCS championship on January 6, 2014. To meet the strict participation requirements, a school must have six wins in their season. That is six wins in a 12 game schedule which I calculate to be approximately a .500 winning percentage. It is even possible for a team to play in a bowl with a 6-7 losing record. That is the high standard the colleges and the NCAA set to reward football programs. 

There was a time back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth that a bowl invitation was a big deal. It was a reward that consisted of a trip to a warm weather city with much wining and dining by the local bowl committees and chambers of commerce. There was probably a parade through downtown with a bowl queen and her court. Now you might get an invitation to beautiful Detroit for the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Prior to 1970 there were about 10 bowls. The big four were the Rose, Orange, Sugar and Cotton Bowls. The Sun, Gator, Tangerine and later the Liberty and Peach Bowls were the second tier games. With so few bowls around, they all got very good teams. A few other bowls popped up but didn't stick around long. There was even an off and on Bacardi Bowl that was held in Havana.

There was some bowl creep in the 1970's and 1980's but the real bowl bloat began in the 1990's. This coincides with the growth of ESPN and it's need for content. ESPN now televises almost all of the games and even started and now produces several of them. Here's a link to bowl history.

In 2013 there are 124 FBS teams and there are 35 bowl games. That means that 70 teams, 56%, go to bowls. Pretty elite company.  Most college bowls are no longer important or compelling but are merely made for TV events. Besides the preponderance of bowls the other change is that almost all now have a title sponsor. Some of the names are funny and/or embarrassing. I'm partial to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl which is played on a blue field.

I counted seven 6-6 teams and 14 teams with seven wins. I also counted only about ten games that I have any real interest in. Ten of the 14 SEC teams are in bowls so I'll probably watch most of them. I'm sure I'll watch more than ten or 12 games but it won't be must see TV. If I'm not busy and it's a choice between The Housewives of Beverly Hills or a bowl game, I'll watch football.

I am disappointed that the Florida Gators, South Florida Bulls and TCU Horned Frogs were so dismal this season that they couldn't even meet the low criteria for bowl play. 

Be sure to mark your calendar so you won't miss two unranked 7-5 teams square off in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl. 

One game that does mean something is the BCS championship game between the #1 ranked 13-0 FSU Seminoles from the ACC and the #2 ranked 12-1 Auburn Tigers from the SEC. The SEC has won the last seven titles but FSU goes into this game as the favorite. I have mixed emotions about the game. I am an SEC fan but I also root for my home state of Florida teams. I also have a son who is an FSU graduate so that probably tips the scale toward the Seminoles for me. I'm mostly hoping for a good competitive game that goes down to the last few minutes. Unfortunately we have to plow through 34 other bowl games in order to get to the only one that really counts.

Happy bowling.


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