2013 was a memorable season. Without a truly dominant team we were all left to wonder who’d survive to the national championship. Outside of a few Alabama fans, everyone in the country thinks Florida State and Auburn are the two teams most deserving to play for the the trophy.
Meanwhile, nearly half of the schools in college football made themselves eligible for a bowl and are rewarded with some extra days of practice and a made-for-tv exhibition game. They too will play for a trophy. Even if the trophy is just a logo. Or a potato.
What’s Wrong With Bowls?
Bowl games are their own genre of football. They are essentially the same as pre-season exhibition games in the NFL.
Coaches use them for a variety of purposes. Typically, you’ll see a coach use it as a reward trip for his outgoing class, a chance to showcase his program on national TV, a bonus recruiting trip, an opportunity for traveling fans to connect with players, and a chance to look at what’s left after his seniors leave. (For most bowl games, it’s also a place where student-athletes are each given very expensive gifts by sponsors within the rules of the NCAA… strange, but true.)
Unfortunately, most bowl games really aren’t about winning and losing. Sure, every team will say they only want to win. In reality, the reward is getting to the bowl and whether you win or lose is pretty much irrelevant to the rest of what happens.
In short, what is wrong with them is that they don’t really matter.
They are made for TV football specials, mostly owned by ESPN or ESPN holds the exclusive media rights. And they continue because we, as fans, watch them on TV.
How to Fix It
Fixing it is relatively straight-forward. In every other division of football there is a playoff to determine a champion. Actually, in every other sport at every other division, the NCAA decides a champion. But not in football. ESPN blocks the possibility of a bowl because they own a number of bowls and don’t want to compete for media rights on an open market for a new championship.
Fixing it. Making the games matter. And unleashing a fervor like none other in sports is being squelched by a few dozen contracts for media rights and naming rights. Sure, the big bowls say it’s about tradition or whatever. But let’s call it what it is: The people, networks, promoters, and conferences getting paid right now don’t want to risk losing future paychecks.
But don’t forget. The solution to the problem of meaningless bowl games is a 16-team playoff.
Having said all that. The trick to picking Bowl games is that it’s not just about who the superior team is. It’s also about figuring out how the team will use the trip and who is coming to play the game instead of just coming to play.
Gildan New Mexico – Washington State vs. Colorado State – Adam’s Pick is Washington State
Royal Purple Las Vegas
Fresno State vs. USC - Adam’s Pick: USC
Famous Idaho Potato
Buffalo vs. San Diego State – Adam’s Pick: Buffalo
R+L Carriers New Orleans
Tulane vs. Louisiana-Lafayette - Adam’s Pick: Lafayette
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s St. Petersburg
East Carolina vs. Ohio - Adam’s Pick: Ohio
Boise State vs. Oregon State - Adam’s Pick: Oregon State
Little Caesars Pizza
Pittsburgh vs. Bowling Green - Adam’s Pick: BGU
S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia
Utah State vs. Northern Illinois - Adam’s Pick: NIU
Military Bowl Presented By Northrop Grumman
Marshall vs. Maryland - Adam’s Pick: Marshall
Syracuse vs. Minnesota – Adam’s Pick: Minnesota
BYU vs. Washington – Adam’s Pick: Washington
New Era Pinstripe
Rutgers vs. Notre Dame - Adam’s Pick: Notre Dame
Cincinnati vs. North Carolina – Adam’s Pick: UNC
Miami vs. Louisville – Adam’s Pick: Louisville
Buffalo Wild Wings
Michigan vs. Kansas State – Adam’s Pick: Mich
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces
Middle Tennessee vs. Navy - Adam’s Pick: MTSU
Franklin American Mortgage Music City
Ole Miss vs. Georgia Tech – Adam’s Pick: Ole Miss
Oregon vs. Texas - Adam’s Pick: Oregon
National University Holiday
Arizona State vs. Texas Tech - Adam’s Pick: TTU
Arizona vs. Boston College – Adam’s Pick: Zona
Virginia Tech vs. UCLA – Adam’s Pick: Va Tech
Rice vs. Mississippi State – Adam’s Pick: Miss State
Duke vs. Texas A&M - Adam’s Pick: Texas A & M
Nebraska vs. Georgia – Adam’s Pick: Nebraska
Heart of Dallas
UNLV vs. North Texas – Adam’s Pick: North Texas
Wisconsin vs. South Carolina - Adam’s Pick: Gamecocks
Iowa vs. LSU – Adam’s Pick: Iowa
Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO
Stanford vs. Michigan State - Adam’s Pick: Stanford
UCF vs. Baylor – Adam’s Pick: UCF
Oklahoma vs. Alabama – Adam’s Pick: Bama
Clemson vs. Ohio State – Adam’s Pick: Ohio State
Oklahoma State vs. Missouri - Adam’s Pick: Missouri
Vanderbilt vs. Houston – Adam’s Pick: Vandy
Arkansas State vs. Ball State – Adam’s Pick: Arkansas State
VIZIO BCS National Championship
No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 2 Auburn – Adam’s Pick: Floriday State