Friday, December 19, 2014

College Bowl BS

2014-15 College Bowl Schedule

Here we are once again at the end of the college football regular season. Now we are about to start the mostly silly season also referred to as bowl season. We got rid of the BcS but still have the bowl BS. There are only three games that mean anything, the three playoff games with the top four teams as decided by the College Football Playoff Committee. All the rest are what the other kind of football (soccer) would call a "friendly", an exhibition game. They are games held to promote a city, event, product or just to fill TV programming. Most will be televised by ESPN, several of which were started and are produced by the network. Some are old established bowls like the Sugar, Rose, Orange, Cotton, Sun and Gator. Of course they all have title sponsors now. Some newer ones have no name other than the sponsor. 

Here are some facts about bowl games. There are 125 FBS college football programs, schools that used to be classified division 1-A. There are now 39 bowl games counting the new playoff sites. That means 76 different schools will participate in bowls. The championship game will have the two teams that already participated and won the semifinal bowls. Do the math, that means 60% of the FBS schools will be in bowls. Not a very elite group. It reminds me of youth sports where everybody gets a trophy just for participating. Most FBS schools now play 12 regular season games. You need six victories to qualify for a bowl. That's an outstanding 50% winning rate. It is in fact possible to have a losing record and still qualify for a bowl if a team plays 13 games as do those in conference championship games. This scenario played out this year as 6-7 Fresno State is headed to the Hawaii Bowl. There are 12 bowl teams with 6-6 records. Florida is 6-5, they had a game rained out. That's 14 bowl participants with only six wins. 

The silly season starts on December 20th with five games. It ends on January 12th with the Championship game. The very first one is th R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. What are (is) R+L Carriers? The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl is also on that day. Some other unfortunately or confusingly named bowls include the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl, Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, Quick Lane Bowl, Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl, Duck Commander Independence Bowl, National University Holiday Bowl and Taxslayer Bowl. 

That last one bothers me. This is what has traditionally been the Gator Bowl but there is no mention of Gator in this year's title or logo. Last Year it was the Taxslayer Gator Bowl. This is sad because the Gator Bowl is the sixth oldest bowl and has been going since 1946. This is partly to be blamed on Jacksonville and the Gator Bowl committee not being willing and/or able to keep up with other bowls. What was once a premier bowl when there were fewer than ten post-season games is now on about the third or fourth rung of bowl games. This year's Gator Bowl (it will always be the Gator Bowl to me) has two unranked teams, the 7-5 Iowa Hawkeyes vs the 6-6 Tennessee Volunteers. Here are the bowl logos from last year and this. One more example of corporate dollars trumping history and tradition.

2014 Logo

2015 Logo
As far as teams that I follow, here is the rundown. USF didn't qualify for a bowl with their 4-8 record. The Florida Gators with their stellar 6-5 record will be going to the prestigious Birmingham Bowl on January 3rd to play the 8-4 East Carolina Pirates. This bowl has only been in existence since 2006 and is owned by ESPN. 
The TCU Horned Frogs did a little better. The #6 Frogs finished 11-1 and play 9-3 #9 Ole Miss in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. The Peach Bowl is now one of the big six bowls that rotate the semi-final playoff games. They don't have a playoff game this year but they do get two top 10 teams. 

There are 12 SEC teams playing in bowls this season. I'm sure I'll watch at least a few of them. The Old Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier, and his South Carolina Fighting Chickens will play the Miami Hurricanes in the previously mentioned Duck Commander Independence Bowl. This is a battle of two 6-6 teams. 

The big deal this year is the four team playoff. The two semifinal games are #2 Oregon vs #3 FSU in the Rose Bowl and #1 Alabama vs #4 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. Both games are on January 1, 2015. The winners will meet on January 12th at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. All three games will be televised by ESPN.

As usual there will be several bad bowl games played before sparse crowds. Some will have terrible weather. Some will have terrible announcer teams. Of course with 39 games there will also be some very good games. That's what happens every year.

So, pick your poison. Watch no games, all games or something in between. Whatever your choice, Happy Bowling. Let the games begin.


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