Are you bowled over?

Today's Guest blog by Greg Schmalz, president, Schmalz Communications.  (RepMan is off climbing mountains again and I have been offered an opportunity to contribute to this spot while he’s continuing his higher education.- Greg)

BowlgamesEvery year football is synonymous with the holiday season. And while I have been around sports for more than four decades, the college gridiron season continues to get longer and longer.  And this is what’s known as the bowl season. It’s comparable to professional sports playoffs. Yet, it seems to drag on.

I can remember where the major college bowl games were limited to four – the Cotton, the Orange, the Sugar and, of course, the granddaddy of them all – the Rose Bowl.

But through the years, the list continues to grow.  Would you believe there are 35 bowl games this season?  The bowl season kicked off on December 17, 2011 and will not end until Jan. 9 when Louisiana State plays Alabama for the national championship.

Are all of these games necessary?  Are they truly meaningful?

There are five BCS (Bowl Championship Series) bowl games – Orange, Sugar, Rose and Fiesta Bowls, plus the national championship game.  But, my, have times changed.  Naturally, corporate sponsorship is tied to these games and they often change.  I can remember the FedEx Orange Bowl.  Well, the game is no longer played in the Orange Bowl in Miami as that stadium has been torn down and now Discover Card is the title sponsor.

The Sugar Bowl, which originally was played in Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, is now played in the Mercedes-Benz (formerly Louisiana) Superdome.

But back to my original question.  Are all of these games necessary?  Through Christmas Day, seven bowl games were played from St. Petersburg, Florida to Honolulu, Hawaii.  On average, these games drew less than 30,000 fans.

Some conferences are locked into certain bowls games.  To become bowl eligible, a team only needs to win six games against Division 1 FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) schools.

Consider this.  Of the 35 games (70 teams), 13 teams with a 6-6 record are playing in bowl games.  And another 15 teams are just 7-5.  And UCLA, which finished 6-7 for the season, qualified because USC – which won the Pac-12s South Division – was ruled ineligible to compete in a bowl game this season.  So, 29 teams or 41.4 percent of the bowl teams have a record of 7-5 or worse.

For some of these schools, their regular season ended in November. For others who played in conference championships, they played into the first week of December.  But students had exam week and may have had been on break.  Now, they come back to practice again to get ready for a bowl game.  To some, who had aspirations of playing in one of those major bowls game and came up short, playing in a bowl game is meaningless.  But to others, they would be a little more motivated as it may be their first time to play in a bowl game or may be matched against a better team.

But is it worth all that travel and expense to play in front of half-filled stadiums?  Are sponsors getting their bang for their buck?  Do the layoffs the players have between the end of the regular season and the bowl games have a dramatic effect on the quality of play in the games?

For me, the New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day games were most meaningful.  But even that has changed now.  With New Year’s Day falling on a Sunday this year, football’s big boys (the National Football League) took center stage on the final week of the regular season while the college bowls were pushed back a day to yesterday.

So, what do you think?  Have you had enough football or do you think they’ll eventually get to 50 bowls or something along college basketball’s tournament with a field of 65?

I think they are diluting the product.  The quality of the game is suffering. In most cases, they become shootouts.  But if the fan base is not supporting the games, then why play them?

Hope all RepMan readers have had a nice holiday season and best wishes for a healthy and prosperous new year.

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