Brett McMurphy of CBSsports hinted yesterday that there could be discussions to increase the required number of wins to 7 for bowl eligibility once the BCS contract runs up and a new one is agreed upon. Yes, I get most of my CFB news from CBSsports. Some like Yahoo, some like ESPN, some like Barstool for their sports stories. So naturally you’ll get a lot of CBS stuff from me. After all, with the exception of announcing deaths, they do a good job covering the sport.
Now the question becomes, what is the purpose of bowl games? Should we look at them as a “reward”? Should we view them as an entertainment factor? Last year nearly 20% of all bowl teams finished the year 6-6 while this year that number was slightly below 20%. In what world do we reward teams (who don’t win a division title) for winning half their games? Why do we need these teams to go bowling?
Fact is I’m 100% behind this discussion. McMurphy quoted bowl sources as saying up to 12 of the bowls we have in place now could be eliminated. Sign me up. What is the purpose of Illinois playing UCLA this year. Neither team was any good and in Illinois’ case they were playing their worst football going into the bowl game. The fact they still were able to beat UCLA speaks volumes to the type of garbage UCLA was last season. Simply put: there’s no place for a 6-6 team in bowl games and this goes for the likes of Mississippi St., Texas A&M, Iowa, Ohio St. and others who I am confident were better than their record indicated given the level of play they faced.
At what point do we require teams to actually earn a bowl bid? I don’t want to pick on one league or team so let’s take a few example from this year. Northwestern was a team coming into last season who I liked a lot with Pat Fitzgerald leading the charge. Northwestern had one win all year worth a damn over Nebraska late in the season. Otherwise their wins were over: 4-8 BC, FCS Eastern Illinois, 1-11 Indiana, 4-8 Rice and 3-9 Minnesota. O excuse me, I would hate to forget that loss to 3-9 Army as well. They showed NOTHING all year to warrant a bowl bid which is why it should come as no surprise they lost by double-digits to Texas A&M in their bowl game (a fellow 6-6 team) and did the unthinkable of NEVER grabbing the lead in the 2nd half against an Aggies team who gave up halftime leads like they were candy this year.
Why stop with Northwestern? Hello Mississippi St!!! The Bulldogs, a team who I also had strong faith in entering the season and also already stated probably do better than 6-6 in most leagues, had no business playing in a bowl game. The SEC West is brutal. Toughest division in CFB and it isn’t close. But I’m not here to cherry-pick. There’s not going to be any NCAA clauses saying “7-5 unless your division is REALLY REALLY HARD”. Sorry Bulldogs, win more games. In fact, I won’t even rip your losses because they were all pretty respectable. But look at those wins. Forget the fact they lost to the top 4 teams in the SEC West and top 2 teams in the SEC East. Here’s the wins: 2-10 Memphis (one of the worst teams in the FBS), 8-5 La Tech, 3-9 UAB, 5-7 Kentucky, FCS Tennessee-Martin and 2-10 Ole Miss. So forgive me Northwestern. At least you beat a top 25 team.
“But Bryan, why does it matter? It’s just an extra game a fun week for players”. Fine, make 60 bowls then and let everyone play. Don’t tell me out of one side of your mouth that it’s a reward for achievement over the season then show me a team like UCLA in a bowl game. I’m going to sound like a broken record after a while but this isn’t Little League. Not everyone gets a trophy. 6-6 isn’t worthy of a postseason game. For all the talk about how a regular season is so sacred and “the only one like it in sports”, we sure seem to turn a blind eye to a lot of regular season games when it comes to giving out bowl bids. You want to whine and moan about a playoff ruining CFB. No America, Purdue in a bowl game last year is the true tragedy. Time to toughen up the requirements and make teams earn something. Otherwise why not just bring pizza and Twister and have ourselves a real good time.