Bowl viewership drops to record BcS lows

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Thursday the Football Bowl Association sent out a mass media email with the following subject line: “What a Bowl Season!”

Based on the number coming out, the FBA could’ve done without the exclamation point.  Or the entire electronic missive, for that matter.

We’ve already touched on the fact that Alabama-LSU rematch was one of the lowest-rated title games of the BcS era, down roughly 14 percent from the Auburn-Oregon game the year before.  According to the Birmingham News, that was a common theme woven throughout the entire 2011-2012 bowl schedule.

After crunching the Nielsen numbers, the News has determined that bowl viewership was off eight percent from the ratings posted in 2010-2011, and is down 37 percent from the first year of the BcS in 1998.  That year, there were 13 fewer bowl games than the 35 contested following the 2011 season.

Of the 34 bowls mentioned by the paper — the ratings for the TicketCity Bowl featuring Penn State and Houston weren’t listed — 21 of them saw their ratings drop from the year before, with 18 of those seeing a double-digit decline from 2010-2011.  The only BcS bowl game to realize an increase in viewership from last year was the Fiesta Bowl’s Oklahoma State-Stanford matchup, which was up a 56 percent.  That’s an impressive jump until you factor in the previous year’s game — Oklahoma-UConn.

All told, viewership of BcS bowls — title game, Rose, Sugar, Orange and Fiesta — dropped eight percent from last year.

Of course, as noted by the News, there are a couple of mitigating factors.  One, the vast majority of the games are shown on ESPN, which is unavailable in approximately 15 million homes.  And, two, this year’s “traditional” New Year’s Day bowls were contested  Jan. 2 due to the first day of the year falling on a Sunday.  That, though, doesn’t explain the alarming drop in interest.

Yesterday, NCAA president Mark Emmert appeared to throw his support behind a “Plus-One” model for Div. 1-A football, which is nothing more than a four-team playoff wrapped in language palatable to the NCAA.  And, while he was speaking about an eight- or 16-team playoff, his words could very well have served as an indictment of the bowl system as it’s currently structured.

“The notion of having a Final Four approach is probably a sound one,” Emmert said. “Moving toward a 16-team playoff is highly problematic because I think that’s too much to ask a young man’s body to do. It’s too many games, it intrudes into the school year and, of course, it would probably necessitate a complete end to the bowl system that so many people like now.”

Too many games?  Absolutely, there are way too many bowl games rewarding mediocrity.  A system so many people like?  Combine the drop in viewership with bowl attendance that has dipped below an average of 51,000 for the first time since 1979, and the number of people liking the bowl system is dwindling by the year.

Surely it’s merely a coincidence that a drop in viewership/attendance is running parallel with a newfound interest in a four-team playoff among the men who control the game’s purse strings, right?

After UCLA, Baylor visits, ex-LSU lineman opts for Texas JUCO

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In the end, a former highly-touted high school prospect will start over at a much lower rung on the college football ladder.

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Willie Allen has decided to attend Tyler Junior College and play football this season for the Texas JUCO.  The offensive lineman told the Baton Rouge Advocate that he decided to take the JUCO route so as not to miss out on another season of eligibility as he had previously burned his redshirt.

The move comes nearly three weeks after Allen decided to transfer from LSU.

Prior to settling on the Texas JUCO, Allen had taken visits to, among others, Baylor and UCLA.  TCU had also been given serious consideration by Allen, but he was blocked by LSU after that Big 12 program reportedly had contact with the player before he had formally requested a transfer.

A four-star 2016 signee, Allen was rated as the No. 10 player at any position in the state of Louisiana and the No. 17 tackle in the country.  Only one lineman in the Tigers’ class that year, guard Donavaughn Campbell, was rated higher than Allen.

An unspecified leg injury suffered in the midst of summer camp sidelined him for his true freshman season and led to Allen taking a redshirt for 2016.

Allen was the third offensive lineman to transfer since December.  That month, tackle Chidi Okeke opted to leave; four months later, Andy Dodd did the same.

Another member of Allen’s recruiting class, four-star defensive back Savion Smith, announced May 31 that he would be transferring as well.

Dwayne Wallace, Cal’s starting right guard, no longer with team

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Just a little over a month before the start of summer camp, Cal’s offensive line has taken what some might consider a rather significant hit.

In a very short and terse press release, the football program announced that “Dwayne Wallace is no longer associated with the school’s football program.”  No reason was given for what could be best described as an eyebrow-raising departure.

The first two years of the 6-5, 330-pound Wallace’s collegiate playing career were spent at the junior college level in Riverside, California.  He transferred to Cal in January of 2016.

In his first and what turned out to be only season with the Golden Bears, Wallace started nine of the 12 games in which he played.  Exiting spring practice, Wallace was firmly entrenched as Cal’s starting right guard.

With Wallace’s departure, Cal’s offensive line will now have four new starters for the 2017 season.

Ole Miss, Texas Tech to open 2018 season in Houston

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As opening weekend of the 2017 season grows larger and larger on the horizon, there’s some news for the same weekend the following year that’s been confirmed.

As expected, both Ole Miss and Texas Tech announced Friday morning that the two football teams will open the 2018 season at Houston’s NRG Stadium, home of the NFL’s Texans.  The game that will be a part of the annual Advocare Texas Kickoff series does not yet have a specific date or time for its kickoff.

The two programs have met in football five times previously, the first coming in 1986 and the last in the 2009 Cotton Bowl.  The Rebels hold a slight 3-2 edge in the miniseries.

“We are excited to be part of this great event and play a tradition-rich opponent like Texas Tech,” said Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork in a statement. “In our scheduling process, we seek out marquee matchups at premier venues, and this is a tremendous opportunity to showcase our program on a grand stage. Houston and the state of Texas have become quite the hot bed for Rebel Nation, and we know our fans will continue our stellar reputation of supporting our team and filling up NRG Stadium.”

“We’re excited to return to Houston and take part in the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff,” Bjork’s Tech counterpart, Kirby Hocutt, said. “The support of Red Raider Nation helped set a new Texas Bowl attendance record in our last trip to Houston, so we look forward to NRG Stadium being filled with scarlet and black once again to kick off the 2018 season.”

This year’s Advocare Texas Kickoff will feature LSU squaring off against BYU in Houston.

Scholarship offer for a 9-year-old? Nevada says sure, why not

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OK, this might be getting a little bit ridiculous. Check that — this is getting ridiculous.

Earlier this year, Lane Kiffin, long the king of way-too-early offers, further buttressed that reputation earlier this month when, just weeks after offering the seventh-grade son of Tee Martin, the Florida Atlantic head coach offered a scholarship to a quarterback who had just completed the sixth grade.  Earlier this month, Hawaii one-upped Kiffin by offering an 11-year-old who just completed the fifth grade.

At the time, we wrote, “Surely there’s not an offer to a kid still in elementary school in the offing.”

Nevada football: Hold my beer…

Welp.

Assuming young Mr. Finney just completed the fourth grade — fourth grade!!! — that would make him a member of the Class of 2026.  And you all thought that scheduling way-into-the-future home-and-home series was getting out of hand.

If nothing else, it has people talking about Nevada’s program at a time when not many are talking about college football in general and Wolf Pack football specifically.  Besides, what possible harm could come from entitling pre-teens with scholarship offers, right?

(Tip O’ the Cap: SBNation.com)