Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
The presents have been unwrapped, the cookie supply is dwindling, and a new calendar is just around the corner. Christmas season, depending on your willingness to get the ladder out and take down all those lights, is over.
But fear not, because we are still in the midst of the season that never ends: Bowl Season.
Thirty-nine bowl games featuring 78 teams will be played this winter — in fact, 18 bowls have already been played. That’s right. Somehow, the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl and the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl and the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl all slipped right through your channel-flipping fingers.
Don’t worry: 42 Football Bowl Subdivision teams still have a win or a loss to add to their record.
Some might say 39 bowls is too many. Seventy-eight of 128 schools, or 61 percent, of FBS teams will play in a bowl game this season. In other words, it’s about as easy to get into a bowl game as it is to get into a Walgreens.
Compare that number to the NHL and NBA’s not-exactly-Ivy-League-standard of 53.3 percent playoff acceptance, the NFL’s anyone-but-the-Rams 37.5 percent and the MLB’s hey-at-least-more-than-two-teams-make-it-now 33.3 percent. In other words, an FBS team is almost twice as likely to reach the “playoffs” as an MLB team. (Though, if you’re talking about the actual College Football Playoff, the rate is a measly 3.1 percent.)
This sounds like a bad thing, right? More bad teams keep playing after the regular season, the distinction of playing in a “bowl” game is diluted, etc., etc. You don’t have to look too hard to find someone who thinks there should be fewer bowl games.
But you do have to look outside of this column.
That’s right, I’m all about the bowl games. And I’ll give you three reasons why.
Reason One: The more football the better.
When is it ever better to have less football? I’m no rocket scientist, but I’m going to say never.
(Unless we’re having the 18-game-NFL-season discussion. Or the football-causes-irreparable-brain-damage discussion. OK, let’s just say more football is almost always better.)
Just take a look at some of the bowl games that have already been played if you don’t believe me. The ending of the Miami Beach Bowl alone featured a last-chance, scramble-and-throw touchdown pass and a 54-yard do-or-die field goal. They even threw in a postgame brawl — featuring cheap shots and bleeding faces — for good measure.
Then, one day later, a San Diego State kicker missed a 34-yard chip shot field goal that would have likely sealed a San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl win, gifting it to Navy instead. Just a minute prior, the Navy kicker had hit a 24-yarder to take the lead. Even the winning coach didn’t know what happened.
“I have no idea how we won the game,” Midshipmen coach Ken Niumatalolo said afterward.
Reason Two: The extra games don’t affect the championship.
In the professional sports leagues, there’s a good argument against adding spots to the postseason bracket. When more teams make the tournament, it increases the likelihood of both a team with a poor regular-season record winning a championship and a team with the best regular-season record missing out. Whether this is a good thing or not is arguable — entropy is fun, after all — but this leads many to argue that adding playoff teams is unfair, and I think that’s a valid point.
In college football, it doesn’t matter. Adding a 40th bowl is not going to affect whether or not Alabama can win the College Football Playoff. (Though adding teams to the actual playoff would, of course.) The bowls aren’t a part of a larger playoff entity, so having a ton of bowls doesn’t impact the destination of the championship trophy.
Reason Three: No one’s making you watch them. Seriously, what’s the harm in having a ton of bowl games? No one is going to strap you down, tape your eyes open and force you to watch Houston play Pittsburgh. I hope not, at least.
Although, take it from me, maybe you should watch just to be safe.
On Christmas Eve, I decided, “You know what? Western Kentucky is leading Central Michigan 49-14. I’m probably safe to spend some holiday time with my family.”
Central Michigan went on to score 34 straight fourth-quarter points, tying the game on a Hail-Mary hook-and-ladder touchdown, only to lose the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl on a gutsy 2-point conversion attempt.
Moral of the story? The more football, the better.