May 3, 2008

Roundtable: Are 34 bowl games too many?

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the college football coverage staff for their opinion about a specific topic from the past week in college football.

There was a lot of postseason news this week, so we actually have two questions this weekend one we'll answer Saturday and one we'll answer Sunday.

TODAY'S QUESTION: Two new bowls were given the OK for this season, meaning there will be 34 postseason games. Is that too many?
Steve Megargee
I don't think there's any question that we already were stretched to the breaking point with 32 bowls. Troy was the only team with a winning record that failed to earn a bowl bid last season.

The Independence Bowl has pitted .500 teams against each other in each of the past two seasons. Adding two more bowls to the schedule raises the real question that we won't have enough bowl-eligible schools (teams that finish at least 6-6) to fill all the available postseason spots.

Then again, I also think too much is made of this. While 34 bowls is probably a few too many, why not create postseason opportunities for every team with a winning record? I'm more upset with the conference tie-ins that often reward 6-6 teams at the expense of a team such as Troy, which was left out of the postseason with an 8-4 record because it plays in a conference that doesn't have as many bowl partners as most other leagues.

Football isn't the only sport that rewards teams that had so-so seasons. Look at college basketball, for instance, which added a third postseason tournament this past season.

Cincinnati (13-18) reached the postseason without even having to win the Big East tourney.

I think the addition of a third postseason basketball tournament merits more criticism than the presence of 34 bowls.

Olin Buchanan
How could anyone suggest that 34 bowls is too many? That would mean only 68 teams will participate in postseason games, leaving players from 52 teams with nothing to do but study and go home for the holidays.

Seriously, a schedule of 34 bowl games is great. Who could ask for more? Well, I guess the folks in Salt Lake City, whose proposed Rocky Mountain Bowl was rejected by the NCAA could, but who else?

To many, college football is the greatest sport in America. Should we deny fans a bowl matchup of teams that have won six or seven times? I say no. This way, we raise the possibility of the NCAA actually allowing a team with a losing record in a bowl game. Think of the novelty.

Some would argue that 34 bowls is too much of a good thing. But can you really get too much of a good thing? For example, I love steak, pizza, ice cream and cheese. Can you really get too much of those things?

Well, my doctor, who says my cholesterol is too high, says you can. But what does he know? He probably thought 32 bowl games were too many.

David Fox
As long as conferences, schools and TV networks are making money from bowls, there never will be too many. As long as a game between 6-6 South Carolina and 6-6 Louisville played in a third-rate baseball stadium is compelling TV, there never will be enough bowl games.

Bowl games used to be a reward. But six coaches were fired or resigned under pressure despite reaching bowl games last season. That's no reward.

When I played Little League and pee-wee football, I rarely played on good teams. As a result, I received trophies that said things like "participant" or "honorable mention." Those trophies weren't very cool and I wasn't particularly proud of them. If I played college football, I'm sure I'd feel the same way about a St. Petersburg Bowl watch or a Bowl ring. And I bet my interim head coach would feel the same way.

Mike Huguenin
Earlier this decade, I was told by Roy Kramer, then the commissioner of the SEC, that there was no such thing as too many bowls. His point, boiled down, was this: If there are people who want to put on a bowl game and there are people who want to see that bowl game, then that bowl game should exist.

I'm of a differing viewpoint. I love college football, but I think 34 bowls is too many about six or seven too many. I always thought of a bowl bid as a reward, and I don't think 6-6 teams (or even some 7-5 teams) deserve to be rewarded. The way it is now, teams can win just one or two conference games and get to a bowl. To me, it cheapens the whole process.

The new bowls are frankly lower-tier bowls. That just means more six-win teams will be bowling. To Kramer's point, there obviously is someone who wants to sponsor those bowls. Will there be people who will pay to see those games? That's the question. Will there be people who watch on TV? That's another question.

The bottom line: The bowl market is oversaturated. Cut back on the number of bowls, and maybe they'll mean more.

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