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Sponsored bowl system leaves a lot to be desired

Posted: January 13, 2013 - 1:06am

When Alabama dismantled Notre Dame Monday night to win the Division I national championship, the college football season came to a close.

Thank goodness.

Initially it took me a while to get over the brand naming of bowl games, but I came to understand the realities of why that was necessary. Without the backing of a sponsor, some of these games probably would have fallen by the wayside.

Maybe that should have happened.

From Dec. 15 to Jan. 7 there were 35 bowl games. Of the 70 teams, there were 23 teams that finished with 10 or more wins, 11 teams with a 7-6 record, and seven at .500 or worse.

Some of the games might bring in a casual viewer, either for the historic nature of the game like the Rose Bowl, or because of the teams playing. I can’t imagine anyone but the hardcore college football fan, the broadcasting crew or those from the competing states tuning in the day after Christmas to watch a 6-6 Central Michigan squad take on a 7-6 Western Kentucky team in the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl, however.

Topping it off, they played in Detroit, not in the southern half of the United States like the majority of the other bowls. True, they played on a professional field inside a dome so weather wasn’t an issue, but I don’t remember the last time I heard Detroit mentioned as a destination city.

Maybe we’re too far away to get the “Come to Michigan, Ohio, Indiana” ads on TV.

I would like to think that players on .500 teams work just as hard as those on teams with stellar records and that talent plays a big part, but should a team like a 6-6 SMU be rewarded with a trip to Hawaii?

I guess it’s nice that these different schools are able to get the exposure that all the major college football factories have come to expect, but what some might call parity, I call mediocrity.

Maybe some players’ families were able to make the trip to Hawaii, but I doubt the majority of the more avid alumni attended. My brother-in-law is a devout Mississippi State alum, but he couldn’t pull the trigger to go to Florida from Mississippi to the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl because it was just too far and would take too big a chomp out of his bank account.

I think the four-letter network is partly to blame, as ESPN and its various entities, including parent company ABC, broadcast 33 of the games. CBS got a car wreck of a game in the Hyundai Sun Bowl for New Year’s Eve, while Fox was able to hunt down the Jan. 4 AT&T Cotton Bowl.

The other problem is the BCS championship game has rendered all the other games moot. It’s almost like a playoff system that just skips the opening rounds and goes directly to the finale.

I liked it when all the major bowls with traditional affiliations were played on New Year’s Day, bringing the season to a close. I know it’s just a week later, but it feels like spring ball will be starting next week.

Or, as Alabama head coach Nick Saban said at his press conference after his championship win, “We’ll take two days off and get back to work.”

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