A generation ago — perhaps two — the college football landscape was not as littered with meaningless bowl games.
The number of bowls increased because of the almighty dollar, the thousands if not millions of dollars in payouts, and the sports fans thirst to watch … or overdose …on as many bowl games as possible from the third weekend in December to the first weekend in January.
Once upon a time in bowl games far away, teams selected to face each other had either won their conferences or conference playoffs and had a superb record that the rest of coaching fraternity would drool over. Slowly, the number of games began to increase to where we have reached stupidity — 40 bowl games, many of which are featuring either 6-6 or 5-7 teams or both.
We have stooped low to reward mediocre teams with a postseason bowl and gift bag, much like coaches giving everyone on the youth athletic teams a trophy or ribbon for participation.
That same feeling now includes college teams that accept an invite to an obscure bowl game.
Last year the University of Nevada Wolf Pack accepted an invite to the R & L Carriers Bowl at the News Orleans Superdome. On a Saturday morning, the game kicked off at 8 a.m. Pacific time to a largely partisan crowd rooting for the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns of the Sun Belt Conference. Unless a person’s pockets are lined with Ben Franklin’s image, only a handful of Wolf Pack faithful spent hundred of dollars to see a game in which the Pack sleepwalked in a 16-3 loss.
Because of 40 bowl games requiring 80 teams, the Pack, with a 6-6 record including losses to Utah State, after leading by three touchdowns in the second half, in-state rival UNLV and last-place Wyoming was selected. The bowl committee rewarded an average program with the opportunity to play another average Mountain West foe, 7-5 Colorado State.
Evidently, it did not take a mental giant to select two MWC teams to play each other.
It would have been nice if the Wolf Pack and Coach Brian Polian would have turned around and told the bowl committee thanks but no thanks. A 6-6 team does not deserve a reward.
Yet, he was more than enthusiastic because he picks up a bonus of $15,000 for guiding the Pack into a bowl game. The roses are not so pretty at bowls such as the one in Tucson, Ariz., with Nevada playing Colorado State.
Many times the two teams either break even to pay their travel expenses and mandatory tickets sales or walk away from the bowl game with a paltry balance that will buy the team lunch at Arby’s on the way to the airport. Don’t forget the expenses associated with the band and cheerleaders traveling to Tucson.
Bowl games were meant to reward, not act as a self-esteem tool to make coaches and players feel good for having a mediocre season.
LVN Editorials appear on Wednesdays.