Everything they’ve done all season has led to this game: The [insert sponsor] Bowl. These teams have worked all season to get six wins and a chance to play in the playoffs. At least that’s what bowl games are supposed to be: the highlight of the season. But if anything, they’re just a preview of the next one.
Their importance has been declining for some time. When it was just the BCS title game, there was still a lot of prestige to play in a bowling game. Only two teams achieve this, so there was no shame in not being one of those two. With the addition of Ccollege Ffootball Plaid off, they have become less important. There are four full playoff spots. How come you didn’t succeed? New Year’s Six Bowl games have increasingly felt like consolation prizes for teams that were close to making the playoffs but narrowly missed out.
Now with CFP expanding to 12 teams, they could very well be on their way out. Starting with the 2024 season, how is anyone supposed to muster enough energy to care about the Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl when there are 11 playoff games left?
Everything works against Bowl Mania. Players who know they are going to be drafted withdraw to avoid risking injury. Most coaching change decisions are made before ‘post-seasons’ for some strange reason. Players can access the transfer portal before their bowl games for an even stranger reason. Hell, Notre Dame’s starting QB was one of the players to do that.
I am not advocating against the removal or transfer of players. They should do what they want, but it’s crazy that players are allowed to enter the transfer portal before what is supposed to be the biggest game of their season. The fact that it opens before the bowling matches take place speaks to their irrelevance.
A team that plays in a bowling match could potentially be unrecognizable from the one that played in its final regular-season game a few weeks earlier. The bowling games aren’t so much a post-season game as a “let’s see what we have for next year” game.
Take Florida for example. Anthony Richardson was the Gators’ starting quarterback in every game this season, but pulled out ahead of the NFL Draft. Jack Miller III, a freshman (even though he was at Ohio State for two seasons) who hasn’t played in a game for the Gators will start in his place. Again, for Miller, this is probably far less of a postseason game and more of an audition for next season’s starting point. Florida will also field a team where 17 players have already entered the transfer portal.
Wisconsin fired its head coach, Paul Chryst, mid-season and hired Luke Fickell, but interim coach, Jim Leonhard, is still in charge of their game of boules. It seems pretty bizarre that Leonhard is going to coach this game as his already selected replacement lurks over his shoulder like the grim reaper. Great motivation. If you’re allowed to hire a new head coach between the regular season and the playoffs, then why can’t he coach?
Some have speculated that with the record number of transfers, this could be bowling’s worst season ever. They might be right, but even then, I’m not trying to pretend it’s not worth watching. Bad college football is always much more favorable than sitting around and waiting for the sun to go down at 4:45 a.m.
There are actually some great matches. UTSA and Troy are rewarded for winning their conferences, winning 11 games, and being nationally ranked, playing today — the first day of matches. I’m being a little sarcastic, but it’s really a reward to play as soon as possible and to be able to go home for Christmas. USC, which has the Heisman winner who is still a year away from being draft eligible, and was one win away from the playoffs, get Tulane. For Tulane, who won two games last year, this must feel like their Super Bowl. Will USC be able to stand up for a group of five opponent after narrowly missing the national semifinalfinal?
Despite the most promising matchups, it’s hard to see bowl games as a legitimate postseason when it’s a bunch of quarterbacks who haven’t started the whole season throwing to relief receivers because the starters are transferred, while playing. calls from a coach who has already been replaced.