How Can Bowl Games Remain Relevant In The Future?

How Can Bowl Games Remain Relevant In The Future?
Reading Time: 4 minutes.

Don’t let the recent theatrics and pageantry of the New Year Six Bowl games blind you to the fact that the College Football bowl season is riddled with meaningless games.

Sure, watching teams hoisting high a big bowl of potatoes after a win or a head coach getting doused in mayonnaise or Cheez-Its make for fun holiday-time viewing. 

But, with players entering the transfer portal at record highs and sitting out to prepare for the NFL draft becoming vastly accepted. These bowl games have become a bout of mediocracy between two depleted teams who are merely trying to add a “winning” stamp to their season.

And next season the College Football Playoff expands to 12 teams. Meaning the already fatuous non-New Year Six bowl games will become even less significant.

By no means is this the fault of the players themselves. The risk-to-reward factor for players who are heading to the NFL draft or entering the transfer portal is way too lopsided as an injury in a bowl game could derail their draft stock or scare away potential schools from recruiting them in the portal.

Even programs playing in New Year’s six bowl games are seeing players opting out. There are not too many yet, but the players doing it now are setting a new precedent. Penn State and Utah had a couple of key players opt out of the Rose Bowl, which is one of the biggest and most prestigious games of the year.

Fenway Bowl

Image Credit: Wasabi

If you need more evidence that these bowl games are losing their meaning, look no further than the Fenway Bowl between Louisville and Cincinnati.

The two schools have been battling for the ‘Keg of Nails’ since 1929. The Fenway Bowl was the first meeting between the teams since 2013 and it happened on a baseball field, over 800 miles away from either school, with barely any fans in attendance, with many players opting out of playing, and both teams had interim head coaches.

If this were a regular season game, it would have been a big deal. A re-ignition of a fierce rivalry. Yet what we got, was a little embarrassing, and quite frankly just pointless.

Games like Kentucky vs Iowa in the Music City Bowl and Fresno State vs Washington State in the LA bowl just dragged. There was no rhyme or reason to them, other than the obvious monetary incentive for conferences and television networks.

CFP Expansion

Image Credit: Fox

So when the College Football Playoff expands to 12 teams next year, and then possibly even more teams in the future, how can bowl games outside of the playoffs keep themselves relevant?

The locations for bowl games have become a problem. Of course, they’re not going to change. Some of them are even named after their locations and there are contracts involved with stadiums and conferences. However, the selection needs to improve to get the seats filled.

The Idaho Potato Bowl, Myrtle Beach Bowl, Gasparilla Bowl, Arizona Bowl, and many others were all hosted in states where neither team is based.

I understand bowls should be in neutral sites and every team can’t play near their home. But, asking fans to travel those large distances, or asking college football fans in the area to come out and watch the games when players and coaches themselves haven’t made the journey, is a tough ask.

Going back to Louisville vs Cincinnati, if that game is played anywhere in Ohio or Kentucky, the attendance would have been much better and there would have been an atmosphere.

Ok, there are no current bowl games held in either state, but do bowls need to be so rigid?

But changing the location isn’t enough to bring relevancy back to Bowl games. Players will still opt out and we will still have to watch two diminished teams without key players. 

Proposals

An outlandish proposal to fix this would be to move nonplayoff bowl games from December to August.

Bowl games could kick off a season instead of closing it. Moving to August would allow teams a full offseason to fill the holes left by leaving players, coaching staff replacements could be made, and teams would be at full strength.

The bowl game would count as the opening week of the regular season and count towards the regular season record. Meaning teams with good bowl teams could boost their resume for the following playoff.

Don’t get me wrong, I love glueing myself to the TV around the holidays to avoid the relatives and watch College Football. But, the standard of some bowl games is making that family game of monopoly more and more appealing.

It’s a lot to ask of bowl committees, conferences, and teams themselves. However, in the coming years, the playoffs may extend even further, and bowl games will be reduced to consolation prizes.

Why not keep the tradition whilst improving their worth in a way that continues to line the pockets of all involved? Everything else in College Football is changing, why not bowl games too?

This article was written by our new writer Ross Love. Thanks to Ross for contributing this article and you can catch more of his work here in the future.

Feature Image Credit: Saturday Blitz

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