It's that time of year again, time for one of the most popular sports, to enter its postseason. I'm talking about college football. From coast to coast there are millions of die hard college football fans. In fact, I've met so many that live for the college game but could care less about the NFL. I'm a NFL fanatic, don't get me wrong and I love college football too, but I feel cheated by it. While millions of fans are getting geared up for their bowl game and are at the peak of their excitement, my emotions are on the down slope and tapering off.
The reason for my disconnect is simple, in every other sport if a team qualifies for the postseason, their emotions spike, they play at a new level, and the atmosphere is amazing. This isn't the same for college football. While their regular season is the most entertaining in all of sport, their postseason is the biggest snooze. Whether college or pro, in all other sports postseason brings an elite status; but not in college football. Take for instance at college or pro baseball, basketball, or the NFL. If you qualify for postseason play, there is an ultimate prize at the end of your journey. In these instances there is something to play for, something to risk everything for, and something for your fans to give a damn about.
If you haven't read Danny Hobrock's piece, There Are Too Many Bowl Games, you should. I don't care if my team wins the 'Applebee's Bourbon Street Steak Bowl' or whatever they are naming these corporate sellout bowls. I'm going to come up with the 'Jayson Braddock Send My Kids to College Bowl'. It doesn't matter who wins the game, we can pit to 6-6 teams against each other and I'll play on their fans loyalty and mediocrity to bring me money...hey, if you can't beat the system, join it.
I'll give you a few examples of why these games are meaningless and serve no purpose. If I can't sway your opinion, then you obviously are tied to one of the families that directly benefit from Meineke, Chick-fil-a or some other corporation that these games are set up for and have the naming rights to.
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1) I'm a die-hard Clemson fan. My team blew so many opportunities this season, to be relevant. They still manage to go to a bowl game however with a record of 6-6. Why? What was their big meaningful win over a stellar opponent? How did they earn a bowl game berth over an 8-4 Temple team that beat UConn who is playing a BCS game? Oh that's right, Clemson fans travel better and will sell more tickets.
There are also ties of conferences to specific bowls. Do we not have a problem with the last two statements? We are okay telling our kids that money and who you know is what matters in this world? That's what this basically means. Clemson plays in the ACC; they have ties to the Champ Bowl. Clemson will bring in more money to Charlotte, so they don't reward the team with a more impressive resume; they reward the team that will provide a better kickback.
2) If you aren't talking about the Auburn vs. Oregon game this year, then you are talking about pointless games. Here is some simple logic. When I'm watching Clemson in the regular season, I'm on pins and needles. I go out of my way to watch every game, snap, interview, etc. My emotions are tied into every game, because they matter. If we lose, we slip in the rankings and we have less of a chance to win the ACC championship. If Clemson isn't in the National Championship game, what's the point of caring? I'll watch the game because it's my team and it's still football, but I won't go out of my way to watch. I won't live and die with each play, unlike the regular season. What do we get if we win? Money! That does nothing for me as a fan. What happens if we lose? We fall in the last meaningless Top 25 standing. Unless you are number one when the final standings comes out, who cares? Without looking, can you name all the teams that played in bowl games last year, what the matchups were, who won and the scores? I'm pretty certain you can't even do it for last year's NFL playoffs. Go ahead, try. Name all the NFL teams that made the playoffs last year, what all the playoff matchup were, and the scores of each game. A free Xtra Point Football tee shirt to the first person to get it (DON'T CHEAT.)
The point is that there is only one bowl game that means anything and that's Auburn vs. Oregon for the National Championship.
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3) If the Bowl games had any meaning, you wouldn't see coaches like Urban Meyer retire before the game is played. He can announce his retirement before Florida plays Penn State because he knows that final game means absolutely nothing. Is it going to change his legacy? NO! Will his standings matter the next week after the win/loss? No?
4) Steve Spurrier said in an interview leading up to South Carolina vs. Auburn game, that this was what all coaches lived for; that the SEC Championship was the biggest game. He's right, for him. For Auburn, they have the National Championship, the only game that still matters. Spurrier knew what all coaches know, that winning the divisional crown is what you play for, if you are eliminated from any chance of the National Championship. He didn't say that the Bowl game would be the biggest game. He would happily sacrifice a loss to Florida State in the Bull Shit Bowl for a win over Auburn, to be the SEC Champion. This shows how irrelevant the postseason is outside of the Championship game. South Carolina will come out flat versus FL State because they could care less about it. They'll be depressed because they loss the regular season game that meant more. The seniors that don't have any plans of playing football beyond college will play their hearts out because it's the last game they ever play, but that's it. Which brings me to my next example...
5) Seniors, juniors, and red shirt sophomores that plan on entering the NFL Draft after the bowl game, are more worried about not getting injured than beating a 7-5 opponent that they will never play again. Let's use LSU's star cornerback, Patrick Peterson for example. Honestly, do you think Peterson is more worried about beating Texas A&M in a game that benefits his team nothing other finances for the school or being a top 5 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft and being able to financially take care of his family for the rest of his life? Hmmm, let's see, on one hand he could make millions for his former school and on the other he can make tens of millions for himself. Do you think any of the top draft prospects are going be giving 100% in a game that can't benefit their season? They realize that they are one hard hit, tear of an ACL, dislocated shoulder, etc, from dropping from a first round pick to an undrafted player that an NFL team won't be committed to. There is a reason why NFL scouts put the least value on a prospects bowl game performance over all other games played. NFL scouts put more stock into how a draft prospect plays in a meaningless Senior Bowl or All Star game equivalent than they do for a bowl game. That should tell you something.
6) Let's take a higher match up for this next example. #3 TCU vs. #4 Wisconsin. WOW, that sounds exciting! We have put high ranking pointless numbers next to these two teams, this must be a meaningful game, right? Wrong! Who cares who wins this game? If TCU wins and Wisconsin loses, who goes on to the next round? Neither one, what's the point? TCU will be ranked #2 in the final polls and undefeated. YES! Congrats, you get absolutely nothing for that. Well, here's more money than the team that lost the game. Does that make you feel better TCU fan? Your school got money and you got a #2 beside your name instead of a #4. Whoop de' friggin do! In contrast to every other sport, if the #3 team wins, they get to play another game, in hopes of winning an ultimate prize; a championship. That's the only reason you would play a game and risk the injuries. What do you think the NFL players union or the players themselves of the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings would have said if you told them that you were going to scheduled them to play a Super Bowl consolation game the day before the Super Bowl last year? They would have said eff' that!
I'll always support my team, but I can't support the hypocrisy of the bowl system. It is only in existence to make people more money. I've argued with the system for so long, that I finally give up on the system ever being fixed. Instead, I only watch college football for scouting reasons. I follow the High School talent and see how they develop into college players, I see how my Clemson team performs that I've been following since I was a toddler, and I gauge NFL talent. That's it.
For me, I'll watch the college game for the reasons stated above but I turn to the NFL religiously to see how a postseason is suppose to be run for the greatest sport on earth. - Jayson Braddock
Jayson appears on Sports Radio 790 AM in Houston, TX, every Thursday morning at 11:19 am CST as the football insider on the Dylan Gwinn show. He's a graduate of the Sports Management World Wide Football GM & Scouting Course and has been mentored by former NFL player / executive John Wooten and Sporting News.com NFL Draft Expert Russ Lande. His work is mostly appreciated by die-hard fans interested in every little detail about their team and not just watered down mainstream talk. - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports7910.com.
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