Are There Too Many Bowl Games?

Ah, the FBS Bowl games.

A litany of college football action stretching from December 19 through January 11, encompassing 41 games and involving 80 teams. From the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl to the National Championship Game.

But while each of these games bring their own sense of basic enjoyment, even more so for the players and fans of those who are deemed worthy to compete in them, the basic question must be raised: are there too many bowl games?

In short, yes there are.

While it is a treat to have as much college football as humanly possible, and there is no shortage of pride when it comes to these post-season games, there are certainly too many in existence.

To understand why there are too many, one must understand what the bowls are meant to represent.

They are meant to be a reward, a pat on the back for success during the season.

However, in recent years, the meaning of “success” has become stretched.

For example, the Cure Bowl features a 5-7 team (San Jose State) facing a team that needed a win on the final weekend to reach .500 (Georgia State).

Another interesting thing that the bowls bring to the fans is an opportunity to see teams play against opponents that they would never face otherwise. But this novelty is undermined this year by the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, which features two teams from the Mountain West Conference  (Nevada and Colorado State).

How do so many absurd bowl match-ups come about? For starters, take in this statistic. Of the 128 FBS programs in the country, a whopping 62.5% of teams make it to the post-season in some respect.

This makes a mockery of the idea of the post-season, and calls into question their true purpose (which is to make money for the numerous sponsors and TV networks).

The real question is not if there are too many bowl games. The real question is how many bowl games should there be.

The answer to this question: 14.

To put it simply, only the top 26 teams, as ranked in the final College Football Playoff standings, should qualify for the post-season. These are the teams that not only have good, if not excellent, records, but they showcase the best of the conferences (and Independent teams). Why one more than the standard 25-team rank? On the surface, it is because an even number of teams must be chosen. But pragmatically, it is to allow for the inclusion of the best military academy (if not already ranked).

Below is this writers personal list of which bowl games should exist. Some of these may not be the heaviest hitters on the normal schedule (and one doesn’t even really exist), but there are reasons for all of them.

  • Military Appreciation Bowl (Annapolis, MD) – This game already features the top military academy. In the event that one of the academies makes it to the CFP, the naming tag still works.
  • Detroit Bowl (Detroit, MI) – Currently, the bowl game in Detroit is called the Quick Lane Bowl. Give this a new name and continue to play it, because there deserves to be at least one bowl game not in the south or west.
  • Hawai’i Bowl (Honolulu, HI) – Just as the NFL Pro Bowl used to be played in Hawai’i as a sort of vacation destination, this will allow college players who normally wouldn’t play in that city/state to enjoy the experience.
  • Music City Bowl (Nashville, TN) – Normally a very solid bowl game. Could be used for the SEC, ACC, and/or Big East teams in the 20-26 range in the rankings.
  • Texas Bowl (Houston, TX) – Mainly here because Texas is too big (both in size and football fanaticism) to only hold one bowl game. Good site for Big 12, SEC, AAC, Sun Belt and/or C-USA competition.
  • Poinsettia Bowl (San Diego, CA) – Who wouldn’t want to go to sunny San Diego for a bowl game? Not to mention that the Mountain West teams could use a closer bowl destination.
  • Peach Bowl (Atlanta, GA) – A staple of the bowl game schedule. Usually includes an SEC team, but this year is hosting an ACC-AAC match-up.
  • Citrus Bowl (Orlando, FL) – Another bowl game with a lot of history which falls just outside the “Big 5”. Would be a nice fit between the New Year bowls and the National Championship.
  • Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA) – The “granddaddy of them all”. Will of course continue the Big 10 vs. Pac-10 history.
  • Fiesta Bowl (Phoenix, AZ) – Not as historic as the other FBS bowls. Good place for the match-up of next two teams behind the playoff contenders.
  • Cotton Bowl (Arlington, TX) – A major bowl in the house that Jerry Jones built. Kind of wish they still used the proper Cotton Bowl, but that’s life.
  • Orange Bowl (Miami, FL) – Historically the place for the ACC champions vs. Big East champions match-up. Few places better to hold a football game outside in January.
  • Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA) – Normally reserved for the top SEC team. In the age of the CFP, it continues to be held in high regard.
  • National Championship Game (Various) – The one game to decide the champion. Will continue to bounce around the five FBS bowl sites.

Now this plan probably isn’t perfect, and there would be some hiccups in the early years. But eventually, everyone would adjust just as they have adjusted to the new playoff system.

In the end, while not everyone will be happy, enough people will be to keep this bowl game line-up intact and bring the bowl games back into reverence as the games which decide who the best teams really are.

Cover Photo Credit: Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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About the Author
Alex Austin is originally from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and is a graduate of the University of Alabama. He currently resides in Tuscaloosa, AL.

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