Stories indexed with the term ‘bowl games’

Column: Let’s End the Football Bowl Charade

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

College football’s regular season ended Saturday, with the various conference championship games closing out a 14-week season. The next day, Sunday, the 35 bowl games sent out their invitations to 70 lucky teams. But when you look a little closer at their bowl offers, you have to wonder if those 70 teams were really that lucky at all.

The people who sell bowl games need us to believe a few things: (1) Their games are rewards for teams that had a great season; (2) They offer players and fans a much-wanted vacation; and (3) The bowls are nonprofits, while the schools make a killing.

These claims are nice – and would be even nicer if any of them they were actually true.

Forty years ago, college football got by with just 11 bowl games. The 22 teams the bowls invited were truly elite, and so were the bowls themselves – like the Orange Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Cotton Bowl and The Granddaddy of Them All, the Rose Bowl. Back then, when your team got into a bowl game, you knew they’d done something special.

But in the past four decades, the number of bowls has more than tripled, to a staggering 35. The “bowl season” now stretches almost a full month, which is how many days you need to fit in such timeless classics as The Meineke Car Care Bowl, the Advocare V100 Independence Bowl, and the legendary Bowl. How many Taxslayer.coms fit into a bowl? It’s a question only theologians can answer. [Full Story]

Column: Who Wins with College Bowl Games?

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

The college football bowl season has always been a little crazy – but most of that used to be fun crazy. Lately, though, it’s been turning bad crazy – and fast. Here’s why.

Michigan played in the first ever bowl game against Stanford on New Year’s Day in 1902. The Wolverines won, 49-0 – but didn’t play another bowl game for 46 years.

Pasadena didn’t host another game until 1916, and no other bowl games even existed until 1935, when the Sugar Bowl, the Orange Bowl, and the Sun Bowl all started, followed two years later by the Cotton Bowl. But the games were just glorified exhibitions, created to reward a few teams with a nice trip, and promote southern cities.

That started to change in 1948, when Michigan’s Fritz Crisler played matchmaker between the current Big Ten and the Pac-12, who started sending their league champions to play each other at the Rose Bowl every New Year’s Day. If you were second place, you only got to play in a bowl if your league champion repeated, because the university presidents didn’t want their teams to go to a bowl game two years in a row.

Bowl games were considered so insignificant that Notre Dame didn’t bother to go to any bowl games from 1926 until 1970 – and still won seven national titles during that stretch.

But when Michigan’s undefeated, fourth-ranked 1973 team tied top-ranked Ohio State, and was denied a trip to Pasadena by a vote of athletic directors, the Big Ten ended its 25-year-old ban, and let any team in the league go to any bowl game that would have them. [Full Story]