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Bowl Season’s Mentality Shift

By on December 28th, 2016 in Football 22 Comments »
Jan 1, 2016; Pasadena, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal running back Christian McCaffrey (5) celebrates with the Offensive Player of the Game Trophy after defeating the Iowa Hawkeyes in the 2016 Rose Bowl at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-233952 ORIG FILE ID:  20160101_lbm_usa_117.JPG

USA TODAY Sports

When did bowl games begin to lose their luster? 

I remember bowl season being my favorite part of the college football season when I was younger. To be able to sit at home on break from school and have the ability to watch college football throughout the holiday season was wonderful. Now, we have talented, future NFL players sitting out bowl games, fearful of injury instead of playing one last game with their college teammates. 

And maybe nothing has really changed, maybe it’s just my own false perception of the situation. But something certainly feels lost since the creation of the playoff system. Before, during the BCS era, there was only one game that truly had “meaning.” Now, with the playoff system, there are three. 

I’m a big supporter of the playoff, but it’s pretty apparent that the system is taking the luster off of the other bowl games. 

Part of the problem lies with ESPN. The sports media giant holds the television rights to 98 percent of bowl games. It’s difficult for second-tier bowls to build any sort of hype when the network is putting all of its time and money into boosting ratings for the playoff matchups. 

So if the fans start to doubt the importance of these games, the players will too, which helps explain why we’re seeing athletes forgo their bowls in order to focus on greener pastures—something that holds “meaning” to them. The playoff system has created a mentality shift. 

But there is one aspect of bowl season that will never change.

For many seniors, a bowl game is the last competitive football game they will ever play. The last opportunity to suit up and represent their respective institutions. The last opportunity to be part of a team.

And I think that still means a hell of a lot to most—playoff or no playoff. These athletes have poured their entire lives into this game, and bowl games serve as an opportunity for graduating athletes to lay it all out on the field one last time. 

And since it is an exhibition of sorts, why not let redshirted players participate with no penalization to their eligibility? The NCAA should let these younger athletes travel with the team and play in a real game setting. This simple rule change could do wonders for player progression and generate more incentive for viewers to tune in and see future college football stars.

Why not reward redshirts that have worked just as hard all season in practice by allowing them to have the opportunity to fill in for those that choose to skip the game?

Just my two cents.

22 Comments

  1. neonbets says:

    Here’s a good article from Forbes on this very issue: http://www.forbes.com/sites/prishe/2016/12/27/massive-media-revenues-reduce-the-sting-of-poor-bowl-game-attendance/#1fa54531cc7e

    The key takeaway:

    The new college football playoff system is extremely lucrative. The total price tag for the 12-year deal which runs from 2014 through 2025 reaches approximately $5.64 billion, or roughly $470 million annually….So lucrative, in fact, that minimizes the financial pressure for bowl game operators to sell tickets, suites, and sponsorships to their games.

    Essentially, everyone got paid, so the bowls, and athletic departments don’t really care any more.

    We’re just beginning the long slide down from Peak Football. The steep drop in youth participation must be alarming to any football executive. NFL ratings are showing vulnerability. ESPN is losing subscribers, so neither it (nor the major networks) will be paying these ridiculous ‘Rights Fees’ again. I think when 2025 rolls around, we’re going to look around and wonder just what the hell happened to this great sport.

    Of course, I’m not saying that football is going extinct–but football may be headed for the fate of horse racing, boxing, and baseball–each of which also had a 20-30 year run as the dominant sport of a generation.

    So what will be next? I don’t know…I just pray it’s not soccer.

    • audude audude says:

      Yup, can’t stand soccer past 5 year olds playing.

    • Tiger Tiger says:

      If neon’s right, I’d say the best bet’s either gonna be soccer or lacrosse. Sad, I know.

      I’d be partial to jiu-jitsu, Calcio Storico or longsword fencing.

      MMA lost me when everyone became so interdisciplinary that it became impossible to discern the different fighting styles used by each competitor. That, and the WWE-level hype, killed it for me. 15 years ago, you could see clear cut matchups of jiu-jitsu versus sumo, boxing versus karate, street brawler versus kickboxing, etc. . Now it’s just an assembly line of high-level, well-rounded champions who last maybe six months before being knocked off by the next challenger.

      • AUTigerinBR says:

        Sadly, the bowls don’t seem to mean as much as they did years ago, especially the Sugar Bowl which used to be sweet, sweet for the SEC. Regardless we are looking forward to going.
        Neon, audude and Tiger, go watch Auburn play lacrosse. I predict you will find yourself cheering before you know it. While lacrosse in the South is not NE lacrosse (yet), it is still a great game and really fun to watch.
        Obviously not saying it is going to replace football, but our family loves it.
        And while you are broadening your horizons– check out an equestrian event. The Auburn team is fantastic and a national contender every year.
        I love Auburn.
        War Eagle.

  2. bornatiger says:

    I agree the greed is killing the sport you can hardly Watch NBA or NFL unless you have cable and specific channels. Then you throw in the concussion thing as if we didn't think putting your body through that kind of physical stress doesn't have repercussions. I mean you don't have boxers and MMA fighters trying to sue. So the leadership has screwed up the management of players too or made them very angry with the establishment. It's sad.

    • AUgrad00 says:

      BornTiger Greed is killing the sport. Truth. Bowl games original intent was to promote tourism in exhibition games. Now because AD’s and conference commissioners are in bed with bowl directors they outsource the postseason instead of hosting games on campus and keeping all the LOOT and having the NCAA run it.

      You want greed go google John Junker. 1200 strip clubs visits, bribing the admissions director to get his daughter into UT Austin. The bowl games use and abuse schools.

      The NCAA needs to run this removed the middleman and play the games on campus.

  3. AUwaterboy AUwaterboy says:

    Good post Cole …

    I think your idea for the NCAA to let redshirted players ‘participate with no penalization to their eligibility and let the younger athletes travel with the team and play in a real game setting’ hurts no one and greatly benefits both the players and the teams.

  4. AUgrad00 says:

    To Cole I would say go read Death to the BCS by Dan Wetzel. That totally changed my entire view of college football, the bowl system and the postseason. Bowl games are outdated cash grabs by bowl CEO’s that don’t benefit anyone but themselves.
    It’s exploitation. Case in point Paul Hoolohan of the Sugar Bowl makes 819,000k a year for a single exhibition game.
    Meanwhile Auburn has to buy 15,000 tickets at face value and if they don’t sell them they take a loss. Auburn has
    2700 tickets remaining that’s a 405,000 loss. The band has to pay for tickets but the Sugar Bowl uses them for halftime. So I’n essence the Sugar Bowl instead of paying for halftime entertainment has the halftime entertainment paying to perform.

    Screw bowl games. They can all Die minus the Rose Bowl which is only game that is self sustaining.

    • ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

      Can you provide some proof of the band having to pay for their tickets? Are they considered the same as “students, faculty, and staff”?
      Geez, this should not be the case!!

        • ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

          Thanks for the link and the info it provided — BUT, I will say this.. Auburn will receive somewhere in the neighborhood of $12 million for their appearance in the Sugar Bowl – Crap, it might even be higher for all I know.
          No, I don’t feel it appropriate to charge the band, etc., but, as long as the “university” is paying for the tickets then the trade-off is more than worth it.
          IF the students (band members) are having to pay this then that is where I have an issue.

      • AUgrad00 says:

        Oh and Atl Tiger another not well known fact. Bowl games make arrangements with local hotels and as part of agreement the team must stay at the hotel the Sugar Bowl designates and that hotel jacks up the rate.

        The bowl industry has mastered fleecing schools.

        • ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

          We are staying at the “team” hotel and that hotel didn’t “jack up” our rates. We were in NOLA earlier this year – just because we go every year as we love it – and the rates are no different now than they were back in July/August when we were there.
          They may alter the rates for the team, etc. and I cannot speak to that but the rates we are paying are completely in line with what we paid before the season started.

          • AUgrad00 says:

            Atlanta Tiger they don’t jack up rates for fans necessarily but they do jack up rates for the teams and also the Hotel Association of New Orleans gives the Sugar Bowl like 200k for the Sugar Bowl sending them business and the Sugar Bowl makes commission off that.

            Also the 12 million dollar payout is a joke. The majority of bowl games team take losses so Auburn’s payout doesn’t include revenue sharing dictated by the SEC to cover losses of other schools.

            Here is a fact I bet you you didn’t know Florida won the National Title in 2007 and wanna guess how much they cleared??

            32k. That’s it. Hell most schools can host another home game and make a ton more then that.

            This is why I didn’t attend the Sugar Bowl none of the money goes to Auburn, I have been before and rather follow basketball in the NCAA tournament.

            Don’t get me wrong glad fans support the team but for me I’m done with bowl games they are a fleece.

  5. bornatiger says:

    I think it is sad I like bowl games and the 4 team playoff it still makes every game still count but in years to come it will be like the NFL as for players sitting out it shows selfishness and lack of team player that to me would hurt draft status. I’d take a player of slightly less status with pride and respect of school that says a lot about character and how much he will fight for the team of future

  6. ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

    As for the players sitting out, I’m pretty sure (at this time) that only 3 have stated they are sitting out. This may change but, at present, represents a VERY small % of players overall.
    And I’m not sure the bowl games have lost as much “luster” as it may seem. These are still games where senior players have a final chance to play. Playing in a bowl still allows extra practices which, no doubt, helps every team and younger players.

    I fully understand the points made in the article as well as posted comments but I just don’t “yet” see this in the same manner.

    Of course it’s about the money – and that has somewhat gotten out-of-hand – but what to do?

    Give up and not participate? This also isn’t the answer.

  7. Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

    The bowls. I hate the bowls. They meant nothing when I was a kid, and mean even less….way less..now. When I was a kid back in the 70's, I was excited about Auburn going to the Gator bowl or some other inconsequential game, but back then you were actually being awarded for having a good season….8-3, or 7-4 or the like. The game meant nothing, other than hopefully seeing ( which was a rarity back then) my beloved TIgers play one more game against an opponent we normally wouldn't play.

    But something has gone terribly wrong when you are 6-6 or god forbid 5-7 (Miss State!) and you find yourself in Detroit or Memphis or Idaho. I mean, whaaaa??? Boise Idaho?? I guess it beats Jackson Miss, but still. There are too many games with too many lousy teams playing. I guess I should be happy that there is football on a Weds night, but its hard to get worked up watching MSU take on Miami Ohio.

    i agree with letting the the redshirts play, but then again most university's lose money on sending the kids to play in the bowl games, so thats just more expense for them to incur. The kids, the fans and the coaches would love to see it happen, but economics should still play a factor.

    What I'd like to see??? Less bowls…a lot less. And I'd like to see each conference field an all-star team of seniors play in a mini-tournament that would have its "championship" game be the weekend of the Playoff championship game.

    This would allow great players on not so great teams have one last hurrah against the best competition. Have each regional conference play each other in a circulating site in its respective regional area. North, South, Midwest, MidSouth, Norhtwest, West and East and West independents….or something of the like. Like the Senior bowl, only tied to the conferences.

    I would think it would it be exciting for the fans and players….and NFL scouts alike. In fact maybe the NFL could sponsor it?? At the worst, you'd see a better grade of football…minus the players that would be in the CFB playoff, of course. Which conference is best? Now you'd have another test to be settled on the field. I'd watch it…or most of it anyway.

  8. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..With all due respect, Col. I’m the opposite. I love December, from mid-month, on. Any time after noon, I can likely turn on the TV and watch college football! I don’t care if it’s a shaky MSU team, or what. It’s college football! I’m one of those guys who faithfully dials up Tuesday MAC games, if I have an off-night!

    …..I absolutely despise New Year’s Day being on Sunday. There will be nothing but NFL teams trying to rest their starters on the last regular season games of the year. BOR-ringgg! I guess I’ll get the Christmas tree down and put away. And hey, the gutters need cleaning…

    …..I do not fault Leonard Fournette, one bit for sitting out. When he’s on, he’s electrifying. Unfortunately, he’s more often banged up. There are millions of dollars at stake, for him. NFL teams are going to look at his injury history. He needs a great combine and pro day, to move up. LSU is not playing for a title, AND they have a pretty good up and coming back to take the load, too. Fournette has to think about his future.

  9. DBAU81 says:

    No question about it: there are way too many bowl games. But unless they start dying off of their own accord, it’s doubtful we will ever go back to the days when they were a legitimate reward for a good season.

    As for players skipping the bowl games, there is no right or wrong answer. Each player has to make the decision that is best for himself. But I don’t blame a young guy for not risking a secure future for himself and his family just for the sake of one more game with his college teammates.

  10. AUgrad00 says:

    Oh Good lord. The Sugar Bowl gets COMMISSION off the hotel stay of both teams in NOLA.

    Anyone who believes bowl games are about players and schools is smoking crack.