College football has a long tradition that includes bowl games. I am a fan of college football and I have enjoyed the bowl games over the years. however, it seems something is very wrong with our system.
When you consider the contractual nature of college bowl games and network television, the BCS has actually done a good job to determine a national champion. Unfortunately, beyond the top 2 teams, the picture gets very fuzzy.
Perhaps there is no better year than 2009 to point out the flaws of our system. Many folks have debated both sides of a college football playoff, but 2009 seems to bring a few interesting aspects of our current system out of the darkness and into the light of day.
The best indicator of all is Bobby Bowden’s departure from Florida State. Bobby Bowden deserves respect and has already been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. he is the only individual to receive this honor before his retirement from college football. I have no problem with an exception made by a private entity to bend their rules. That is, I have no problem until it affects others.
The exception to allow Florida State to play in the Gator Bowl is a glaring example of what is wrong with college football. It shows very clearly that the system is not about what is fair. perhaps Clemson, the runner up in the ACC, declined the Gator Bowl in deference to the much respected Bobby Bowden. perhaps there is a story that goes beyond a university that wants to show some class. I cannot speculate, but there are many possible scenarios when you consider that Tommy Bowden was recently a coach at Clemson.
The point is, our system is flawed and nothing screams quite so loudly as deals being made behind closed doors that have very little or nothing to do with the end of season hierarchy that we know as the Top 25.
Actually, there are less obvious examples of what is wrong with the system when we consider the match ups in the bowl games. The bowls are interested in making money. they are private enterprises that have negotiated contractually with the schools to produce a system of final match ups. however, the match ups are not always about who should play. Rather, they are sometimes about who will deliver the most potential for making a profit. It is an attempt to match teams, but it is also about the numbers.
This year, the match ups are very interesting. From a power standpoint, I suppose they are reasonably matched. however, the PAC 10 match ups are a bit suspect. It would seem that the PAC 10 has managed to avoid any SEC match ups. furthermore, the ACC seems to be unfairly burdened with SEC opponents. It is the contractual nature of the bowls.
Of all the games, the decision by the BCS to match up TCU and Boise State is ridiculous. Despite the relative strength of the SEC, I think there is more parity in today’s college football, and I like the idea that Boise State can play at this level. TCU has a tradition in college football, but it has been decades since they have played at the national level. both teams deserve a chance to prove their position in the polls. Matching them against each other does nothing to resolve this question.
Contractually, the college football picture remains outside of our control as fans. actually, it remains outside of the control of the NCAA. in a way, it is outside the control of any one entity at this point, including the colleges.
There are too many chefs in the kitchen, and there are not very many answers that will satisfy the fans of college football. each contract for each bowl has provisions that extend to different dates in the future. It is a quagmire of varying deadline dates which creates the opportunity for each individual bowl to leverage their position when their time to renew their contract comes up. How can anyone pull the plug on this beast? perhaps it takes a single event to expose the system for what it has become. perhaps that single event is the negotiation for a team to play in a bowl game based on sentiments and sentiments alone.
I am not bashing the bowls. I believe the bowls should factor into the equation. they deserve to be included in a playoff system. Why? It is because they have invested their time and are part of the tradition that is college football. however, we need to do something to level the playing field.
It makes a lot of sense to incorporate conference playoff systems into the picture as well. we are half way to that point. The Big 10, PAC 10 and the Big East need to join this elite club of 12 team conferences with a playoff at the end of the season. I believe that independents must join a conference or not participate. It is time for Notre Dame to join the Big 10. The service academies also need to join conferences. The other conferences should vie for wild card spots. The bowl games can host the playoffs between the various conferences and we can, at last, have a system that makes sense.
With a coordinated effort, the NCAA and the colleges can make this happen without the consent of the bowls. It would take years, but it could happen. It makes a lot more sense for the bowls to sit down at the same table to create a balanced system for the fans that we might all see in our life time. The bowls have the ability to collectively renegotiate their contracts to meet the needs of today’s college football. The fans are the ones who pay for the tickets and buy the products of the various sponsors. The bowls should think about that for a few minutes before continuing down the same worn out path.