`With the holiday season in full swing there is so much activity around us. Office Holiday parties, Christmas tree vendors lining the roads, homes being lit up with holiday cheer, and of course crowded stores. This can only mean one thing. Lots and lots of college football!
Although that sounds like a wonderful promo, it’s not necessarily a good thing. I just took the time to count up all of the bowl games on this year’s NCAA docket. The total comes to a whopping 40 bowl games plus the National Championship Game. It was reported towards the end of the NCAA regular season that this year (as was the case last year) there are more bowl games slated than appropriate schools to fill them. This will once again, result in teams with losing records qualifying for bowl berths.
In looking at the schedule of this year’s barrage, I have a few questions.
- Do we really need to see New Mexico and University of Texas at San Antonio play in Albuquerque?
- Do we really need to see Central Michigan play Tulsa at Marlins Park (which isn’t even equipped for football) on a Monday afternoon?
- Although the matchup of this one is good, why is Memphis taking on Western Kentucky at a 35,000 seat on-campus stadium at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida on a Tuesday night?
- This is one I really don’t understand. Friday afternoon football to kick off Christmas weekend in the Bahamas?
- Why do we have minor bowls slated in cities that already have major bowls (South Florida, San Diego, New Orleans, Phoenix/Glendale, Central Florida, Dallas) ?
- Can someone tell me the logic behind a game being scheduled at an outdoor cold weather venue (Yankee Stadium Pinstripe Bowl) when the whole concept of bowl games was to reward winning schools by having them play in warm weather over the holidays? And to boot, why are we playing it at 2:00 on a Wednesday? Is this a cold weather version of getaway day for the Yankees?
Of course, the point I’m making is too much of a good thing brings in the law of diminishing returns.
I do understand that ESPN, FOX, CBS and NBC have contractual obligations with the NCAA to promote the bowl schedule and the National Championship. Here’s my suggestion.
We all know that the current championship format centers around a practically hand-picked final four. This year’s winners are Alabama (1), Clemson (2), Ohio State (3) and Washington (4). The National Semi-Finals will take place on New Year’s Eve at 3:00 (Peach Bowl in Atlanta) and 7:00 (Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, AZ), with the Championship taking place on Monday night January 9th at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
The semi-final schedule was moved up from last year so not interfere with the stroke of midnight when nobody is watching football and all eyes are on Times Square. Call me crazy but how about championship college football the way it was for decades? Being played on New Year’s Day itself? (or January 2 this year since January 1 is a Sunday and will belong to the NFL as is usually the case).
In my opinion the format itself is still flawed. I know many are going to agree with me when I say that the top four ranked teams aren’t enough to decide a national champion. Again I offer a suggestion.
Instead of not having enough suitable talent to fill up 40 post season games, and leaving many worthy schools shut out of playing for the national championship, consider this. Instead of minor bowls consisting of sub-par schools, lets include some of them in the playoff schedule.
Just like the four brackets in the NCAA basketball championship, which consist of 16 teams, why not make the football tournament one bracket of 16?
This year’s schedule would play out something like this:
Leave December 10th for the Army-Navy Game.
16 West Virginia vs 1 Alabama
15 Western Michigan vs 2 Clemson
14 Auburn vs 3 Ohio State
13 Louisville vs 4 Washington
12 Oklahoma St. vs 5 Penn State
11 Florida St. vs 6 Michigan
10 Colorado vs 7 Oklahoma
9 USC vs 8 Wisconsin
December 23 (since the NFL is playing on Christmas Eve this year):
National Quarterfinals (winners from December 17)
This format would allow the top 16, which would include the winners of the major conferences, to actually play in a tournament. It would also give meaning to some of the bowls that are played during the week at odd times when nobody is really watching by having them scheduled on the weekend.
All of that being said, the current format is what it is. Let’s sit back and watch our college kids play on their somewhat big stage and see who comes out on top.