Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Absurdly Devalued Bowls

It’s not your imagination. Bowl games actually have come to mean less and less over time. Consider –

In 1930, when there were 150 teams (more on that in a second) the only bowl game was the Rose Bowl. So in 1930 only 2 teams of 150, or 1.33%, played in a bowl game.

By 1940 there were 5 bowl games – the Rose, Cotton, Orange, Sugar and Sun. Thus 6.66% of the 150 teams went to bowl games.

This year it was 53.78% of eligible teams.

Or percentage by decade -

1930 - 1.33%
1940 - 6.67%
1950 - 11.27%
1960 - 11.94%
1970 - 16.30%
1980 - 27.78%
1990 - 35.85%
2000 - 43.48%
2007 - 53.78%

So over time we have had fewer teams playing in more bowl games. The reason for the decrease in number of teams is the NCAA did not split college football into two divisions until 1978 (see graph).

I’m actually old enough to remember when bowls were relatively a measure of reward, as in 1980 only about a quarter of teams went to postseason play.

What we have in effect is a “participation award” system for the flagship of NCAA athletics, the top division of college football. And that my friends is why it sucks.

Thank you for participating, everyone gets a ribbon.


DolFan 316 said...

I believe there are at least 8 bowls that came into existence this decade alone. Just absurd.

If anything the number of bowls should be reduced, not added to.

Michigan Dan said...

LOL we need more bowls, as a Michigan fan just checking in here my 2 cents about the bowls...there great, you lucky suckers don't know how great it is to get down there out of the cold..shit it's freezing here in Detroit. Hell we love bowls they were kinda invented like a reward for the kids up north to get away for a winter break in some sunny warm place. The football season for us is over after the Ohio State game anyway. Just some of us Big Ten teams give a shit about kicken a little Gator butt while on holiday. hee hee! Now back to skiing.

Sean O said...

Many of the newer bowls have popped up for the non-BCS conferences, I don't really see what the big deal is. If you don't like the bowls, don't watch, don't pay attention and they go away. That's why games like the Seattle Bowl and the Silicon Valley Bowl died.

I'm a UConn fan and drove 12 hours to Charlotte for our 2nd bowl game ever. 12,000 other fans did too. I had a blast. Anyone who hates bowls...stop watching college football then. Everyone makes it out like bowls are killing's just entertainment. If you don't like it, don't watch. Pretty simple.

Henry Gomez said...

I think the hatred for the bowls you see here is a manifestation of the frustration with the system that crowns a national title. The "bowl" system is ridiculous because it doesn't really crown a legitimate champion. The BCS is a crutch to try to get it to.

I agree that watching teams from different conferences play each other is entertaining. I'd like to see a lot more of it in the regular season. But the Bowls and Polls system actually discourages it. If you're program is to have any shot at a MNC you need to limit your losses to 1 (this year being the wacky exception). There's no incentive to go out of your conference and play good teams.

Mergz said...

I wouldn't say that I hate bowls. I just don't find them all that interesting. And I don't watch most of them.

I suppose fans of teams like Florida who expect "big things" and fans of teams like UConn have different expectations. Our UConn fan above is just happy to go to a bowl game, and I understand that. I, on the other hand, am sick to death of the Orlando/Tampa bowl circuit Florida is on in those years when we don't go to a BCS bowl. For a person who lives in Florida, Orlando/Tampa aren't that damned interesting.

Mostly the point of my post was to ridicule the ridiculously low "barriers to entry" that exist in bowl games now. If bowl games are a "reward" for the season, with over half the teams attending it ain't much of a reward worth having. And if you do think of them as a "reward" worth having at 53% of the teams participating, why stop there? Why not 80%? Why not 100%?

At a certain point the bowls become just another regular season game that happens to be played 30 plus days after all the others. If that's what makes folks happy, fine. Just don't pretend they matter.

Ronno said...

I think the fact that the Gators were foced to play in a non BCS Bowl (the Capital One Bowl) is a major reason why they lost. In my gut I feel most of the team didn't take it seriously. Michigan, on the other hand, did, but perhaps more for getting a win for their coach than for bragging rights about winning the Capital One Bowl. The fact of the matter is, they did NOT beat the real Gators on New Year's Day. They beat the pretend Gators who, save for Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin, simply showed up with nary an interest in competing. I know this sounds harsh, but how else to explain the embarrasing performance of the defense and the offensive line? Nobody really cares who wins these construct bowls whose only purpose is to fill he coffers of the networks, the sponsors and, to some degree, the university. It's entertainment, sure...but the growing numbers of these meaningless bowls tend to taint the legitimate bowls in my opinion. More is not necessarily more in this case.

Henry Gomez said...

The reason the Gators lost to Michigan is the same reason that we lost all of our other 3 games. Our defense could not stop the run or the pass and our offense could not score enough to negate that fact.

Looking back on this season the only "big" win we had was Tennessee. All of the other big games were losses. Florida was overrated all year long. This team was never as good as advertised.

Defense wins championships and this year's edition of the Gators had no defense.

KG said...

If you want to see boring, meaningless games then watch the NFL playoffs this year. God what dreck. Let's just get to crowning the Patriots and be done with it. The playoffs are far to diluted in the NFL, NBA and NHL.

And does anyone really care who comes out of the NFC to lose to the Pats or Colts? Watching Jax and Pitt (the best game of the weekend) to me was better than the Rose, Sugar and Orange Bowls but not as fun as the Fiesta IMO.

Henry Gomez said...

I have watched a total of ZERO minutes of the NFL playoffs. I guess I'll watch the Patriots because I'm rooting against them having a perfect season. As ambivalent as I am about the NFL, I still don't want another team to match the 72 Dolphins.

Buck said...

Like most of those who posted above, I am "underwhelmed" by so many bowl games. I watch only those that matter to the GATORS because GATOR football is the football I care about.

For me the real problem is not the proliferation of bowls, but the absence of a BCS championship playoff. I feel certain that we will have one someday when college officials and bowl managers stop making baseless arguments. (The Rose Bowl, Big 10 and Pac 10 being the major offenders.) Let's just get on with the long-range planning that will lead us to a real national championship series. You can bet the farm that people WILL be watching those games! GO GATORS!

Ronno said...

Chalk another one up for the SEC. Ohio State, once again, looked completely mismatched against LSU, mucht he way they did against the Gators the year before. The BCS powers that be should lend more weight to SEC teams because the conference is so much tougher and more competitive than every other conference. NO way the Gators should have been ranked at #12 at the end of the year despite the losses. They deserved to go to a BCS Bowl and not one of these phony, crassly commercial spectacles.

Henry Gomez said...

I think it was the Gators that were overrated. Our biggest win was against Tennessee. Other than that we lost all of our other "big games".

JJ Gator said...

KG, "dreck" is right - any questions why some call the NFL the No-Fun League?

Given the choice, I too will take college football over the NFL and those pampered prima-donnas any day of the week!