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Faceoff

Are there too many college football bowl games?

By Times staff writers
Published November 13, 2005


DOESN'T MAKE SENSE, OR CENTS, FOR FANS, TEAMS

Why do we need more meaningless games between mediocre teams played in half-empty stadiums? Last season, 56 teams, almost half of those in Division I-A, played in 28 bowls.

That's like rewarding the Devil Rays with a playoff berth for winning 70 games.

Akron was the only bowl-eligible team that stayed home, bringing the NCAA dangerously close to having too few qualifiers.

What's more, the NCAA Postseason Football Licensing Subcommittee denied the Silicon Valley Classic's application after it failed to meet criteria requiring an average attendance of 25,000 fans or 70 percent of capacity over a three-year period. The subcommittee expressed concern about the Las Vegas and New Orleans bowls.

If a paucity of eligible teams and limited fan interest isn't reason enough to cut back the number of bowls, consider that more than half of the teams that play in them lose money, in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If they don't sell their tickets, not even the payout from the bowls is enough to cover the costs of travel, lodging, meals and tickets.

- FRANK PASTOR

IF BOWLS CUT, BIG SCHOOLS HAVE EVEN MORE CASH

Okay, as huge of a college football fan as I am, even I'll admit it: There are a lot of bowl games. Twenty-eight in all, spanning more than two weeks.

But here's why we shouldn't turn back the clock and reduce the number of bowls:

1) Money. Power players - BCS schools plus Notre Dame - surely won't give back any of theirs. So if the number of bowl games is reduced, guess who loses? Teams in smaller conferences that need bowl revenues more.

2) Natural expansion. Just as pro sports leagues kept adding playoff teams after expanding, so too has college football added bowls to keep up with the number of schools rising to Division I-A.

3) Excitement. Some of the most thrilling games of recent years have involved teams saving their best for one shot on the national stage. Remember Marshall erasing a 38-8 deficit to beat East Carolina 64-61 in double overtime in the 2001 GMAC Bowl? Or the shootout in last year's Liberty Bowl, when Louisville edged Boise State 44-40?

So until we have a playoff (ah, another debate for another time), the bowl setup should stay put.

- JIM TOMLIN