The Press Box Perspective: Are There Too Many Bowl Games?

By Andrew Zuhosky

All right, I want to begin with a question today: How many bowl games (not counting this past Monday’s College Football Playoff National Championship Game between the University of Alabama and Clemson University) were there this season?

If you answered with 40, you’re right. This past bowl season, which ran from Dec. 17 to Jan. 2, featured 40 games, ranging from the New Mexico Bowl, won 23-20 by the University of New Mexico, to the Sugar Bowl, won 35-19 by the University of Oklahoma.

This year’s total of 40 Football Bowl Subdivision bowl games was more than double the total of bowls that had been contested during the 1996-97 bowl season, which saw only 18 bowl games played between Dec. 19, 1996 and Jan. 2, 1997.

I know I’m going to sound like I’m echoing the sentiments of all the football widows out there, but I think that there are too many bowl games every year.

Don’t get me wrong, I love watching college football and the bowl games every year, but let’s face the facts: some of the bowl games played this past year were simply tedious. Case in point: Did anybody see the Miami Beach Bowl on Dec. 19?

That game was over before halftime. I remember shutting it off because it was such a blowout — a game won 55-10 by the University of Tulsa.

Then again, the bowl season proved exciting, particularly so in the wild Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena, CA two Mondays ago. Boy, oh boy, was that an exciting contest between The University of Southern California and Penn State University.

The Rose Bowl had everything a great bowl game should have this year, including a game-winning field goal for USC on the final play. I can safely say that it was one of the best football games I’ve seen on TV this season.

Still, though, the college football bowl season and the holiday season (fittingly) go hand-in-hand. Think about it: You overindulge with food while watching a smorgasbord of football.

The bowl schedule has gotten so full in recent years that ESPN, which broadcasts the majority of the bowl games, has had to rebrand its bowl game coverage from “Bowl Week” to “Bowl Mania.”

There are simply too many bowl games, but last spring, the NCAA took steps to improve the quality of programs in the bowl season.

Back in April, they suspended the commencement of any new bowl games for three seasons, and under the conditions of the suspension, no new bowls will be launched until the 2019 college football season.

In 2015, three bids in the bowl selection process went to schools that were technically not bowl eligible (an FBS program must have a minimum of six regular season wins to be deemed bowl eligible) for that year’s postseason.

This past year, there were four schools whose programs were selected for the bowl season that weren’t technically bowl eligible. One of these schools was the University of Hawaii at Manoa, whose football team was conditionally granted eligibility for the Dec. 24 Hawaii Bowl at its own stadium.

Hawaii got into that game because it took precedence over ineligible 5-7 programs due to its 6-7 regular season mark and won 52-35 over Middle Tennessee State University.

I think it’s good that the NCAA put the stops on any new bowl games for now. It shows that they’re serious about improving the quality of existing bowl games.

You don’t want to see too many bowl games having 5-7 teams playing in them because that isn’t good football. I think the NCAA should take a look at which bowl games are and aren’t performing well and cut the underperforming bowls.

I also think the minimum number of regular season wins toward bowl eligibility should be raised to eight. By raising the minimum number of regular season wins toward bowl eligibility to eight, it ensures the best quality teams will be playing in the postseason.

It all starts with cutting some bowl games that aren’t doing well and then you work up from there.

Happy New Year, everybody. Welcome back to all returning students. Best of luck!