News from the Tennessee Valley Sports
SUNDAY, MAY 14, 2006


More bowls donít hurt anybody

Does the world really need 31 college football bowl games?

Is it good news or bad news if the Houston Bowl manages to survive another year and push the total to 32? (A decision is expected by the NCAA after a June 26 meeting.)

Are college football teams dying to advance to the new Birmingham Bowl, New Mexico Bowl or International Bowl?

Yes, the NCAA probably allows the certification of too many bowl games, considering that about 52 percent of the 119 Division I-A teams will get bids. When the NCAA has to water down its bowl eligibility rules so that in some cases a 6-6 team can pick up a bowl bid, then maybe somebody should consider cutting down the list.

But then again, whom does it hurt if there are 31 bowl games instead of 10? Does it damage the Southeastern Conference and its fans if Colorado State gets to play in the postseason?

Is it ruining a night of good television if ESPN chooses to show yet another December bowl game instead of ... yet another December college basketball game?

Does it lessen the significance of Alabama going to the Cotton Bowl or Auburn the Capital One Bowl if a bunch of mid-major schools get bowl trips, too?

If a city wants to put on a bowl game, gets enough sponsorship dollars to meet NCAA payout requirements and finds two willing teams to come play, who are we to say they shouldn't do that?

Besides, won't that long list of bowl games and watered-down requirements look awfully good to Alabama or Auburn fans the year their team sits at 6-6?

It's funny to listen to those who argue and complain about college football allowing too many bowls. It's like the ever-increasing playoff structure of our pro leagues has conditioned us to respond to more teams with the words, "That's too many."

But there's a significant difference — more bowls don't increase the workload of good teams or take away from good games.

The NCAA allowed 27 bowls last year, but the top two teams (Texas and Southern California) didn't have to play more games because of that.

When the NBA, NHL, NFL and Major League Baseball have added rounds to their playoff structures, the best teams have had to play more games to reach the championship round. More teams increased the risk of not having the best teams playing at the end.

So if NBA fans wants to complain that the playoffs are too long, they have a legitimate gripe. A very legitimate one, if you ask me. The pro basketball playoffs take almost as long to complete as pregnancy.

Also, having all those bowl games benefit the mid-major conferences the most, and considering they have zero shot at the national championship picture, a bowl game means the world. Even a trip to Birmingham isn't so bad.

Sure, most of us wouldn't want to go to Legion Field, but does a lousy stadium automatically translate into a lousy bowl trip?

In 2001, Alabama received a bid to the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. The trip had the makings of a bad game that didn't need to be played.

Alabama only had a 6-5 record. Its opponent Iowa State wasn't much better at 7-4.

The two teams played in a less-than-desirable stadium in a city that few would choose for a vacation.

But both teams seem to appreciate the trip. The game drew 45,627, which was close to capacity.

ESPN televised the game and got a close game that Alabama won 14-13, and the few people who watched probably enjoyed that more than seeing two college basketball teams play in a meaningless preseason tournament.

Did anybody lose in that deal?

So does college football need more bowl games? No, it doesn't.

Are there people who want more bowl games? Apparently so, and it doesn't hurt us if they get their wish.

Mark Edwards Mark Edwards
DAILY Sports Editor

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