Tuck: Fewer Bowls In College Football Creates More Value

I don’t like the bowls.

I think my distaste of bowl games originally arose from them being the primary thing preventing college football from crowning a real champion.  Every champ up until the BCS-era was voted on.  Never liked that. Every other sport had a playoff, why doesn’t major college football?

Still kinda makes me mad.

Finally, we are going to get at least a 4-team playoff.

But, I’ve honestly grown more tired of bowl games as I’ve gotten older.  Why?

I’ll tell you exactly why.  30 years ago, in 1983, there were 112 teams in I-A football, and 16 bowl games!

30 years later, 2013, there were 124 teams, and 35 bowl games!

They devalued their own postseason by overflowing it with mediocrity.

In 1983 just 32 teams made bowl games. 28.5% of the field.

In 2013, 70 teams were bowl bound. 56.5% of the field.

Forget upper echelon, you can be below average and still earn a spot in the postseason.

Reward for what?

So, I thought it would be fun to place just 32 teams in bowl games, but apply it to last year’s field to give you an idea of how much better, and more appealing it would look.  A world where making a bowl game actually means something.

For the sake of simplicity, I will assure every conference champion goes to a bowl game. (In 1983 the Missouri Valley Champion, yes MVC, Tulsa, did not).  I went for a combo of history and location in assigning the bowl games, and attempted to keep the matchups as close to realistic as possible.


Independence Bowl- Bowling Green vs. Louisiana-Lafayette

Las Vegas Bowl- #20 Fresno State vs. #25 USC

Liberty Bowl- #18 Louisville vs. Miami

Aloha Bowl- Washington vs. Texas

Sun Bowl- Rice vs. Nebraska

Holiday Bowl- #10 Oregon vs. #14 Arizona State

Gator Bowl- Notre Dame vs. #22 Georgia

Outback Bowl- #16 LSU vs. #17 UCLA

Peach Bowl- #21 Texas A&M vs. #24 Duke

Citrus Bowl- #9 South Carolina vs. #19 Wisconsin

Cotton Bowl- #8 Missouri vs. #13 Oklahoma State

Fiesta Bowl- #15 UCF vs. #6 Baylor

Sugar Bowl- #11 Oklahoma vs. #3 Alabama

Orange Bowl- #12 Clemson vs. #7 Ohio State

Rose Bowl- #4 Michigan State vs. #5 Stanford

BCS Championship Game- #1 FSU vs. #2 Auburn


Talk about cutting off the fat. Only conference champions from the non-BCS leagues (remember AAC was BCS last year with two teams in) and the worst record to play in a bowl game is 8-4. Only Texas A&M (8-4, 4-4) wasn’t above .500 in their conference. More games featuring ranked teams playing each other.  Decent teams left out because they weren’t good enough. Average and mediocre teams not even close to getting invited to play an extra game they don’t deserve.

You could argue against this by simply saying you love football and the more the better.  I love steak, but the bigger the steak doesn’t make it better if it is just fatty around the edges.  Give me that small petite filet full of flavor over that big fatty, chewy piece of meat that is today’s bowl lineup.

If we are going to continue on with bowl games, if they really want to matter, they have to find a way to be special.  There is nothing special about 56% (and going up) of teams getting to do it.