By: Trace Welch, @twelch88
My last weekly whip around delved into the issue of the ever-expanding College Football bowl season. Each and every year it seems that a new bowl game is added which affords more teams the opportunity to participate in their own championship contest which rewards their effort and performances during the regular season. Division I student athletes provide so much time, energy, and effort which should be rewarded with opportunities such as playing in a “championship” contest at the end of the regular season.
College football has provided this opportunity with their bowl game format of postseason play, which provides two teams the opportunity to play in their own championship game that is a nationally televised contest. There are numerous advantages to the college bowl season format as presently constructed and a few of these pros include profitability for the Universities and their respective Conferences, rewarding student athletes for their hard work, and promoting and expanding the reach of NCAA football with increasing television ratings. Although there are advantages to the college bowl season, the format is not without its disadvantages.
The biggest problem with the bowl season was addressed this year with the first-ever College Football Playoff. In years past, there always seemed to be controversy over who the final two teams should be that play for the championship. There always seemed to be multiple deserving teams, which prompted the NCAA to create a four team playoff, allowing a larger number of teams to compete for the championship. Although this was a step in the right direction, there will always be controversy over who should be in the playoff; whether it is teams ranked 3rd and 4th like in years past, or the 5th and 6th ranked teams like this year. This is a problem that my never be solved since someone will always be left out of the playoff that warrants consideration for inclusion. Although that is one con that seems nearly impossible to correct, there are other cons that could be solved with diligent research and responsible decision-making.
I highlighted the profitability of bowls in my last whip around, however it is not a given that schools and conferences will turn a profit by participating in a postseason contest. Every year there seems to be a few schools that actually lose money by participating in a bowl game. This happens because schools spend so much money by having to transport players, coaches, and others affiliated with the programs to the bowl site. This however is not the only expense for the athletic departments of these respective schools. The conferences and schools are required to buy a certain allotment of tickets and hotel rooms when agreeing to participate in the bowl contests. Between the amount of money that is “eaten” by the school when not selling all of their tickets, as well as the transportation expenses, it is very possible for a school to lose money when participating in bowls that have small payouts.
This ability to lose money puts athletic departments in a tough situation, as they would be lambasted by peers and the media if they were to rob their student athletes of an opportunity for postseason play, because they were afraid to lose money. Although there are advantages to the college bowl season, there are also disadvantages that need to be considered when evaluating the future of the postseason bowl format in NCAA Division I football.