Better Off Without You
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11 bowl games we could do without. My team is a bowl team this year. They shouldn't be. At 6-6, and coming off of an embarrassing home loss to our rival, in no way do I feel the Tigers of Clemson belong in a bowl. My friends and I have joked (er, griped) for several weeks now about the problems of this 2010 team. There are no wide receivers. The kicking game is horrible. The play calling is questionable. The quarterback's play has degressed. Yet, with all of these things telling me this is the worst Tiger squad in recent memory, here they sit in a bowl game just an hour and a half from campus. It's not right.
Growing up, bowls were a huge deal. New Year's Day was the biggest day of the year for college football. From noon until 8 pm the day was filled with non-stop bowl action from battles across warm and sunny Florida, Texas and California. My folks used to put multiple TVs out in the living room, and - right or wrong - a decent amount of money was up for grabs to the day's top predictor. There were guests, there was food, there was the intensity of the rankings being torn apart. It was great.
Now, New Year's Day is still good, but in no way does it approach the glory of years past. Bowls have jockeyed for prime-time TV slots in nearby days, and some new bowls have entered the New Year's Day scene. Overall, a day which once hosted nearly ten games now sees just four.
But it isn't really the New Year's Day thing that is what I'm writing about here. I just think there are too many bowls, and that getting to some of these bowls doesn't really mark an accomplishment. Like I said, my team is 6-6 and going bowling. And while I am happy for CU getting a paycheck and Tajh Boyd getting a lot of snaps under-center in prep for 2011, I really don't see the 2010 Tigers as a bowl team. I just don't.
The Meineke Car Care bowl pitting my squad against 7-5 South Florida isn't the only bowl I think we could do without. There are several others. I think any bowl that accepts a team that is not at least over .500 is stretching for credibility. Here is a list of bowl games where I think college football could trim the fat and make bowl season more meaningful.
Meineke Car Care Bowl, Charlotte, December 31st - Charlotte is a nice town no matter the time of year. And Bank of America Stadium is a good venue for this game. But at 6-6, there is no way that my Tigers deserve to be in the postseason. And at 7-5, I really don't see much reason that USF deserves to be in a bowl either. I have many friends in Charlotte who will go to this game and have a great time. I just don't see this as a bowl game that we need to keep.
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, San Francisco, January 9th- Ok, go ahead and tell me I'm a jerk for eliminating the bowl that is fighting hunger. Sorry, donate at your local Publix. This game features a Nevada team coming off of a breakthrough regular season, but they are rewarded by playing a 7-5 Boston College team that went 4-4 in a weak ACC? Wow, I'm sure the Wolf Pack fans are dancing in the streets. Then, there is the place and date of this game. San Francisco in January is just a bad idea. It will rain again. Guaranteed. And why January 9th? My opinion is that you start with the worst bowls, and finish with the best ones.
BBVA Compass Bowl, Birmingham, January 8th - The whatdy-what bowl??? This game "features" Kentucky, who went 2-6 in the SEC, against Pitt, who went 7-5 with a Big East schedule that was purty darn managble. Basically, these two teams are absolutely average at best, and in no way, in my mind, represent teams that deerve to be in a bowl game. No offense to the fine folks of Birmingham, but since when is a January trip to Alabama something that is a reward?
GoDaddy.com Bowl, Mobile, AL, January 6th - Wow. I mean just wow. This is a bowl game? See above bowl capsule about the Alabama thing. And as for the teams, I am certain we are all counting down the days to see Miami of Ohio tangle with 6-6 Middle Tennessee. The MAC champ, Miami, actually does belong in a bowl - a better one than this!
Pinstripe Bowl, New York City, December 30th - This is the first version of this bowl, and I'm telling you right now this is a bad idea. What is the point of joining the New York Yankees with college football? Half the nation hates the Yankees, anyway. Why tie them in with college football? Secondly, the seats most always suck at these football games in baseball stadiums. Finally, NYC in January is freakin COLD! Not my ideal version of a bowl game. I know the appeal is to be in the Big Apple for New Year's Eve the next night, but I still don't like it. Bad idea I'm telling you. Oh yeah, this year it is Kansas State vs Syracuse, both 7-5. The Orange will bring some fans to make this bowl look good in year one, but just give it a few seasons and this will be a dud.
Texas Bowl, Houston, December 29th - In a game we are all on pins and needles over, we get 6-6 Illinois against 7-5 Baylor - both 4-4 in their conferences. Man, this is what bowls are all about, eh?! The Bears will have a serious home-field advantage I would think. Houston probably would be a fun place to go if you've never been there before, but for Illinois this is a pretty long trip, and most Baylor fans have probably already been to Houston many times.
Independence Bowl, Shreveport, LA, December 27th - Georgia Tech (6-6) had a pretty bad year by their standards, and yet are bowling. Air Force is a decent enough squad (8-4), but aren't the kind of team that is worthy of a bowl, either, in my often wrong opinion. On top of the pairing, Shreveport is not a city I picture as the perfect vacation holiday hot spot. This city has hosted a bowl forever, and I've always wondered how and why.
Little Ceasar's Bowl, Detroit, December 26th - This city is on the ropes as it is, and so I would like to see this bowl be a success. Having it at Ford Field is also cool. But the matchup features Florida International and Toledo. Really. I hate to be such a party-pooper, but this is just another bowl that could be taken off of the list. Like I said, if it brings a few bucks into Detroit, cool. Otherwise it just isn't a "bowl game" to me.
Beef O' Brady's Bowl, St. Petersburg, FL, December 21st - Although any bowl in Florida would normally get my stamp of approval, you are looking at a game here that features 6-6 Louisville against 8-4 Southern Miss. Neither of these teams in my opinion are really deserving to be on national TV for a bowl game.
Humanitarian Bowl, Boise, ID, December 18th - Why on God's green Earth any team would want to travel to cold and icy and remote Boise, Idaho for a bowl game has blown mind for years. Yes, I know the Northwest is a beautiful place - I have been there several times. But to play football in the bone-chilling cold of December just doesn't make sense. And is this really a reward to fans of Fresno State and Northern Illinois? Some folks can afford the long voyage, but probably not many.
New Mexico Bowl, Alburquerque, December 18th - This would be one of the first bowls taken off of the schedule if I were commissioner of the sport. 6-6 BYU is pitted to go up against 6-6 UTEP in a game out in the middle of New Mexico. Seriously folks, when neither team is even above .500, there needs to be a real long look in the mirror about where we are going with the postseason of college football. This is pitiful.
So there you have it. I have just trimmed the bowl schedule down from 35 games to 24 games. My next move would be to squish these 25 games as closely as possible around New Year's Day to make that day special again...
* Note - I kept the Armed Forces Bowl and Military Bowl after digging deeper into the matchups. Also, these two games have a bigger meaning than football.
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