Candidly, this would have been a nastier essay but for the surprisingly exciting game between Clemson and Alabama.
Notwithstanding a much better-than-expected championship game, college football this year was a tale of two seasons. The regular season was one of the best in memory. It is hard to remember a Saturday during the fall in which there weren’t multiple several exciting games.
There were so many fine games it’s not possible here to list and discuss even a fraction of the great action. But, just to bring a bit of it back to mind, recall: Ohio State-Michigan State, Michigan State-Michigan, Clemson-Notre Dame, Ole Miss-Alabama, Oklahoma-Tennessee, TCU-Texas Tech, Clemson-Florida State, and Stanford-Notre Dame.
As spectacular as the season was, the bowls were mostly a bust.
It began with the usual run of mostly horrible minor bowls. Mediocre teams, for the most part, playing mediocre football. Standards for the first week of post-season football are so low that teams with 5-7 records are invited.
It’s so bad that a bowl can attract virtually no fans and display poor football, yet make enough money from sponsors from TV to go forward with these games. If there are enough viewers who are bored and desperate enough for bad football, I guess one can argue that satisfying them and the market is good enough. I don’t buy it. Making a little extra money by showing a few extra bad games during the holidays is simply setting a ridiculously low bar. Cut back on the minor bowls.
Next, the powers-that-be chose to produce the big semi-final games on New Year’s Eve. What? “Let’s take on a major national tradition and hope to make the folks adapt.” This was a boneheaded mistake that lost 1/4 of the audience for football and let fans who had other plans miss key games. Further, it didn’t help that the games were busts.
I realize that things move slowly in the world. But does it really have to take years to get to 8 teams in the playoffs? The authorities are lucky they haven’t had huge disasters in the selection process, with some very even teams getting in while others are out. Such disasters will likely happen one day unless the problem is fixed. As it is, we missed strong Stanford and Ohio State and got feckless Oklahoma and Michigan State. Although Alabama-Clemson was exciting, the play was such that either Ohio State or Stanford could easily have shown better. Shorten the season by a game, and create a better playoff regime.
As for New Year’s Day, without placing blame, one can only say it was the worst such day of football in memory. Indeed, except for the ridiculous, but incredibly exciting TCU-Oregon game that a few crazy souls stayed around to see, there wasn’t much of quality in any other of the remaining games.
It’s easy, I know, for sports fans to moan and groan. We do it all the time. We love college football, but the game’s big bosses need to make better decisions to keep and grow the love.