Back when I did care, the college season ended on New Years Day. There were a half dozen or fewer bowl games. The "majors" included the Rose, Cotton, Orange, and Sugar Bowls. This year, a record 41 post-season games cluttered up sports pages and TV. The debacle started Dec. 10 and ends tonight.
I should be contented with results so far. My Wisconsin Badgers scored a bowl win. However, television producers thought so little of their contest that it aired at 10:30 at night. I thought so little of the timing that I taped it and watched a day later. Local favorite Western Michigan also won a bowl encounter, the first one in its history. So much holiday activity was going on at the time, however, I neglected to watch the contest. Son Lee's Minnesota Gophers also were victorious in a bowl, but they only won five regular season games to qualify, an indication of the reduction in quality when 6 bowls become 41. Neither of us watched the UM game.
|Time to put a stop to bowl expansion.|
In most cases, the schools aren't among the financial winners. Consider the Western Michigan situation. The Broncos played in Popeyes Bahamas Bowl in Christmas Eve. If that name sounds ridiculous, it seems a step up in class from last year's appearance in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
According to the Kalamazoo Gazette, the Potato Bowl trip cost the school $913,542. It was rewarded with a payback of $475,000. This year, the Western athletic director didn't provide details, but claimed the loss would be less. One reason is the Bahamas Bowl doesn't require participants to bring their marching band, nor does it demand the school pay for a specific number of tickets in advance. Nevertheless, there will be a loss when all the numbers are in.
The athletic director shrugs that off with one of the most ridiculous comments being repeated in sports interviews. AD Kathy Beauregard said, "I don't look at it like a loss. I look at the fact that we're going to be on ESPN at noon on Dec. 24 worldwide. So, you're going to be able to watch Western Michigan University for three-and-a-half hours on primetime television across the world. That's invaluable promotion for our great university."
Kathy, that really is a load of pure horse manure.
Find me a promising student who decides to attend Western because the football team played in Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, and I'll show you a nitwit that won't last six weeks at any reputable college. The only students who attend colleges because of the football program are the football players, and perhaps those intending to try out for cheerleading.
I'm pretty sure MIT has no football team, but last I heard students were fighting to get in. Ditto, Cal Poly. The University of Chicago, after years as a national power in the sport, dropped major-conference football in 1939. Enrollment and financial backing from alumni declined slightly for a time, but then rebounded and Chicago went on to become one of the premiere universities in the U.S. When's the last time Yale or Harvard played football in a bowl? When's the last time those schools didn't have a huge list of students seeking to enroll?
Instead of preaching a lot of nonsense to us, athletic directors might better spend their time thinking of ways to rekindle interest in college football. Nationally, attendance dropped 1 percent last year, following a 4 percent decline the year before. I'm betting 2015 numbers also will show a decline. Too much of anything is not a good thing.