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‘Too many bowl games’ excuse didn’t carry weight on Day 1 of bowl season

Frank Solich AP

By the time the final whistle blew in the New Mexico Bowl earlier this afternoon — a 37-15 route by Temple over Wyoming that was close for about the first quarter — the pre-existing cynicism I’d felt toward bowl season was already heightened to near-insufferable levels.

Heck, it was like that an hour before that final whistle blew.

“Oh, here we go. Another bowl season highlighted by blowouts, half-empty stadiums and matchups that no one cares about hosted by sponsors that sound like someone’s Mad Libs.”

“The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl?”

At halftime of that Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Utah State led Ohio 9-7 in what looked, again, like another snoozer — this time of the opposite end of spectrum. Close game, but zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

But, post-halftime, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl became famous for something other than having a completely hilarious name. Ohio took advantage of Utah State’s inability to close out a second half (or, ability to perfectly mimic Texas A&M’s halftime “adjustments” routine, depending on how you view it) and came from behind to beat the Aggies 24-23 with a last-minute touchdown.

It was a good game.

So was the nightcap for the first day of bowl season. The New Orleans Bowl didn’t feature a ton of lead changes, but it had momentum swings and two, literally, last-minute scoring drives that resulted in a 32-30 win by Louisiana-Lafayette over San Diego State.

A 50-yard game winning field goal as time expired? Tough to beat that.

And, consider that all three games today had two common themes: they featured non-AQ schools, and they were milestones. Temple hadn’t won a bowl game in 32 years since the 1979 Garden State Bowl; Ohio hadn’t won a bowl game period before yesterday; Louisiana-Lafayette hadn’t gone to a bowl in 41 years, and had never as a Division 1-A school.

As someone who attended college with a less renowned football program, I can tell you those kinds of moments matter to some. Those are the achievements on which programs like Temple and ULL hang their hats.

Oh, sure, there are plenty of flaws with the bowl system. It’s nearly impossible for schools to make any kind of profit and fans are, for one reason or another, not traveling as far or as often. The money that is made from the bowl is landing in the wrong hands.

But that’s another conversation for another day.

What can be answered more instantaneously is whether or not there are too many bowl games at 35, and there are arguments for both sides. For Exhibits A, B and C listed above, I give you Exhibit D — 6-7 UCLA, which through a bowl waiver provided by the NCAA, will be going bowling in San Francisco this year — Exhibit E — nine bowl games where both teams are, at best, 7-5 — and Exhibit F — declining TV ratings.

One of the excuses by defenders of the bowl-only system has been that the game is a reward for a successful regular season. Perhaps that was true 15 years ago, but the more bowls that pop up, the less applicable that explanation becomes.

Besides, bowls equal more practice time and glorified recruiting trips (except to Idaho). Not that there is anything inherently wrong with that; it’s just part of the scene.

But there is still something magical about a great bowl game when the players and coaches lay everything on the line because, well, what’s the worst that could happen?

Can you really have too much of that?

Not if there’s at least a four-team playoff to accompany it, but there’s a tree we’ve barked up far too many times.

It’s almost a parody within itself.

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18 Responses to “‘Too many bowl games’ excuse didn’t carry weight on Day 1 of bowl season”
  1. alligatorsnapper says: Dec 18, 2011 2:48 AM

    Ben: You are right. Normally, I don’t usually watch any bowl games except those that involve some of the big boys, and especially LSU. With nothing more to tinker on my auto (at this moment in time), no place to go, with all my yard work done for this season (I hope), it was the first of the bowl games for this season. I have to admit this was entertaining.

    I wish now I had made more of an event with it all, with some steaks on the grill and friends over since we will hear about the Louisiana-Lafayette game (and score, and all the ebbs and flows of the game, etc.) for a long while from everyone we meet in the stores and with some friends for a very long time (maybe the rest of our lives?!)

    Ben, you voiced many of my concerns over the bowl system and how much I yearn for a bowl system venue based playoff system for Div. 1A, but you are so right, that is a discussion for a different day. You or JT can write a story about that almost any day upcoming, but these bowls, especially the New Orleans Bowl really got my attention and kept me entertained! Bring on some more!

  2. cowhawkfan says: Dec 18, 2011 5:27 AM

    Too many Bowl games? I’ve heard people say this, yet I’ve never understood the complaint. How does too many Bowl games hurt? If you don’t want to watch, don’t. The game matters to someone somewhere, so unless it interferes with your life by preempting reruns of your favorite TV show, I don’t understand the complaint. This applies to things like “too much Tebow coverage”, “too many articles about the Packers”, and other complaints about media coverage. If there’s too much of it for your taste, why not simply turn the channel or page?

  3. 1historian says: Dec 18, 2011 8:27 AM

    Solution to the problem of too many bowl games:


    My work here is done

  4. polegojim says: Dec 18, 2011 8:29 AM

    Never too many. Playoff system or not.

    What true college football fan doesn’t enjoy as many games as possible?

    Soon, we’ll be going through an 8 month withdrawl period and waiting for JT or Ben to rally us to action with a ‘Big 10 or SEC – Which is Better?’ post.

  5. polegojim says: Dec 18, 2011 8:30 AM

    PS – the Potato Bowl made me really hungry.

  6. chiefagc5675 says: Dec 18, 2011 9:24 AM

    My complaint with too many bowl games is that it makes college football start to look like Little League or a bowling league (6-7 UCLA)- or worse the NBA-
    where everybody plays, everybody gets a trophy or in the case of a “regular” NBA season and playoffs- when the hell does this thing end? New Years day is no longer the end of the bowls. I hope we don’t reach the point where bowl games overlap spring drills.

  7. alligatorsnapper says: Dec 18, 2011 9:27 AM

    polegojim: It is The Famous Idaho…Potato Bowl, that makes me hungry, too. Gonna go out today and buy some famous Idaho potatoes and cut them up, wish I had been prepared for those bowls with steaks and all.

    We have to prepare ourselves for the “off season” on CFT. Like SouthernPatriots posted a few times, the countdowns to off season arrests became quite tiring and somehow I hope we don’t have those alerts on CFT on what sometimes seemed to be a daily basis. Maybe if the presidents get some testicular fortitude, they may begin discussions on a Div. 1A playoff and that would be interesting to follow in the off season.

  8. acieu says: Dec 18, 2011 9:44 AM

    No problem with the end of college football season. We just move from on the filed actions to in the courtroom action. The courtroom action will be spiced up by the latest NCAA investigations and absurdities of the NCAA sanctions. 24/7 coverage of the cesspool big time college sports has become along with daily twitter feeds keeps the season alive.

  9. fatfreddystubbs says: Dec 18, 2011 12:32 PM

    cowhawkfan and 1historian echo my thoughts exactly. Sometimes when i hear the (in their own mind) edgy, too-cool-for-school reporter or columnist writing the usual “too many bowl games” column, I wonder if i’m the only guy with a remote control.

    One thing I will say about all the bowl games though, is that teams using the “we played ___ teams that went to bowl games last year” when touting their strength of schedule should instead have to say how many top 25 teams instead of bowl teams.

    Using my own team, Penn State, as an example (yeah, I know, we have bigger problems), their schedule next year is pretty underwhelming (as usual). OOC schedule is Ohio, Navy, Virginia, and Temple (no disrespect to any of those teams, especially Navy. Grew up in Philly and have been to at least five Army/Navy games and love the tradition and what they stand for). No Michigan or Michigan State in-conference.

    Yet, I believe they’ll be able to say that they’ll be playing 9 or 10 teams that went to bowl games.

  10. cfbfaninbadnfltown says: Dec 18, 2011 1:23 PM

    @ fatfreddystubbs

    I’m a Penn State also and outside of Navy & Indiana every team they play next year went to a bowl. And with Temple & Virginia upping their game this season, you can’t use the cupcake line about the OOC schedule anymore.

  11. fatfreddystubbs says: Dec 18, 2011 2:11 PM


    I agree there’s no cupcakes, and all four games are the type that you can at least learn from, good or bad, but i’d like to see one perennial top-ten big-boy program on the OOC sched.

    I’ll cut them a little slack b/c i believe they had a home and home scheduled with Nebraska that became a moot point when Nebraska joined the Big10, but i was hoping they’d be replaced with someone a little tougher than the teams we scheduled.

  12. alligatorsnapper says: Dec 18, 2011 2:26 PM

    cfbfaninbadnfltown and fatfreddystubbs:

    Not my intention to get in the middle of your Penn State conversation, but you are not the only ones with some problems with your favorite team’s schedule next year.

    At this point, LSU’s OOC schedule is nothing to brag about. Don’t know exactly what happened. SouthernPatriots told me some month or more ago that LSU was working to schedule a top 10 in the place of Towson and pay Towson about $1 mil to get out of the game with them, as they did to schedule Oregon this season, but so far the LSU schedule Out of Conference (OOC) is nothing compared to what it was/is this season.

    The problem could be all this confusion brought on by the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC, but I don’t know. Most LSU fans I know aren’t the least bit happy with our OOC next season at this point.

  13. fatfreddystubbs says: Dec 18, 2011 3:03 PM

    Get involved any time. I like your input!
    The problem is, SEC schedules, i think anyway, normally have conference games right away, as in the first or second games of the season, so OOC duds are kind of mixed in as the season goes along.

    Big ten has all four OOC games in the first four weeks of the season. Penn State’s 2011 sched, the way it fell, Alabama and to an extent Iowa were the only two games to really get jacked about until November. Now, their awful offense (or more specifically QB play) made most games a struggle and at least interesting.

    However, once November got here, certain things came up that made football secondary, if you will.

  14. haardcase says: Dec 19, 2011 10:00 AM

    I figured that everybody knew that some of the best bowl games are the ones featuring the “little guys”. They don’t get a lot of media exposure in the regular season and whatever bowl game they get is a Really Big Deal. They play that way an awful lot of the time.

    And no reason to dis on the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl – it’s the coldest bowl game in the country and for those who really appreciate football, something’s not quite right when the game is played in a dome or in weather that’s more like summer when it’s snowing outside. Man up!

  15. alligatorsnapper says: Dec 19, 2011 1:41 PM

    fatfreddystubbs: Thank you for your kindness. I have had one who has done that to me and all it brought was confusion, so I certainly did not want to be part of any confusion. I have enough at work sometimes.

    The LSU schedule is puzzling to many of us long time fans. I guess I should be patient since it is far from being final, but the OOCs seem to already be scheduled with SEC scheduling somewhat left open for the new SEC schedules. It is these cupcake OOCs that bother me so much. Never liked them. Loved LSU’s schedule this year with the big teams of the SEC automatically scheduled but with some of the best of the rest Oregon, West Virginia (both away from home) and Alabama away as well. Next season, just can’t be compared at this point. Towson? and others similar.

    I am definitely not making any excuses, but am looking for reasons. Very likely I need to be patient and then start bombarding their telephones and mail next spring or so to get some better teams inserted, rather than the cupcakes which are now scheduled.

  16. bozosforall says: Dec 19, 2011 7:28 PM

    1historian says:
    Dec 18, 2011 8:27 AM
    Solution to the problem of too many bowl games:


    My work here is done

    1hysterectomy…the better solution is for every single college football fan to boycott just ONE bowl…the one that YOUR favorite team plays in.

    MY work here is done.

  17. cfbfaninbadnfltown says: Dec 19, 2011 7:45 PM

    @ alligatorsnapper

    It’s no big deal speak your truth, I have buddy of mine that lives in Houma, LA huge LSU fan. We went to the 2010 Capital One bowl together and took our kids if it hadn’t rain the whole time it would have been great.

    It could just be my opinion, but maybe after this year the coaching staff might want a break (Oregon, WVU, normal SEC schedule) I mean anyone of those could have been a trap game leading up to the championship. I always felt cupcake games were a way to work out the kinks before the real season started. As a fan we feel slighted when our beloved team plays a lesser opponent and we have to watch or pay for these second tier games.

    With the exception of a few teams in the Big Ten Minny, OSU, PSU it’s become the norm in the conference to schedule easy teams to tweak the game plans moving forward. There’s a reason why Oregon State & FCS schools always get invited to play B1G teams at the start of the season. I for one hate it and would rather watch PSU try and fail against a better team, than post a fraud record against the FCS or MAC.

  18. alligatorsnapper says: Dec 20, 2011 3:35 PM

    fatfreddystubbs: QB play almost made me throw up last year with LSU. Only this season did I actually realize that it was not so much the QB play as it was the LSU OC Crowton who really messed up the offense and was on a different page almost all year from Miles. He gave the QB so many complicated plays and so many complicated blocking assignments that nothing, not even a run off tackle was simple any longer.

    cfbfaninbadnfltown: Your last line was worth its weight in platinum! …”I for one hate it and would rather watch PSU try and fail against a better team, than post a fraud record against the FCS or MAC.” I have heard the SouthernPatriots family say something similar so often when I would ask about the high strength of schedule out of conference games scheduled.

    Finally, I became a believer this season. I thought like most before this season that scheduling a cupcake before or after a high ranked opponent was standard operating procedure. Scheduling quality high ranked opponents on the OOC slots is a great risk but with so much risk, there was much to gain as well when LSU won….a number 1 ranking for so much of the season and to the present moment and hopefully on January 10th as well.

    I guess I have been spoiled with this season. Next season, unless LSU is able to schedule a top school and payoff Towson or another FCS school about $1M, we fans of LSU are going to be really upset. I think when SouthernPatriots gets back from their Christmas outreach to Appalachia, I will speak with them and see if there is any pressure we need to put on the athletic folks at LSU to make some quality substitutions. Hope no one will ask us to pay the $1M buyout fee…ha.

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