Why do we care about college football bowl season?
BY VIN CAPPIELLO, ballino.blogspot.com contributor
Is anyone (besides me) watching the early bowl games? You know, the ones that ESPN is careful to selectively telecast through a limited number of cameras and no blimp shots in order to hide the fact that the stadium, like the pessimist’s glass of water, isn’t just half empty. It’s dead … as a doornail. No overhead view revealing the nothingness below. Cameras only pointing at the 50-yard-line crowd, purposefully avoiding shots of the empty upper deck. Sad. Very said.
Or is it?
Seventy-two teams make a bowl game. No doubt, this explains why lifelong Wyoming Cowboy fans are crazy enough to drive for two full days to Albuquerque to endure a lashing by the mighty Owls of Temple, only to turn around and drive straight home. Attendance: 25, 762. Payout: $750,000 per team.
At least the Utah State Aggie fans had the chance to drive only five hours up to Boise to watch their beloved WAC also-rans lose to the Mid-American Conference runner-up Ohio Bobcats, coached by deposed Husker headman Frank Solich. Attendance: 28, 076. Payout: $750,000 per team.
And finally, let us not forget the always-competitive Beef O’Brady’s Bowl (formerly the St. Petersburg Bowl), which the Thundering Herd of Marshall won over the might-as-well-have-been-playing-at-home Florida International Panthers. You remember these guys … they were on the receiving end of a literal beating at the hands of the Miami Hurricane-Convicts a few years back. Attendance: 20,072. Payout: $1 million per team.
Let’s compare these three blockbusters (hey, whatever happened to the Blockbuster Bowl?) to say, the granddaddy of ‘em all, the Rose Bowl Game, presented by Vizio. Jan. 2. Oregon versus Wisconsin. Pac 12 versus Big 10. Savvy versus strength. Two top 10 teams. Attendance: 100,00-plus. Payout: $22.3 million per team.
So basically what it comes down to is this: Mediocre mid-majors play in poorly attended, pitifully paid out bowls and really good teams play in really good games with really good payouts. It doesn’t seem all that complicated to make three-quarters of a million. Finish second, third or fourth in a weak football conference and make a few bills to pay the AD’s annual yacht club dues. Or, finish in the BCS top 10 and go check out the California coast and the girls and the Rose Parade and bring home more than just the bacon … bring home the whole hog … and then some.
Oh, and let’s not forget those middle-of-the-road bowls, like the much-heralded, Charlotte-based Belk Bowl, which at one time was the Queen City Bowl then became the Continental Tire Bowl and eventually the Meineke Car Care Bowl. This year it pit ACC bottom feeder and fifth-place North Carolina State, a paltry 130 miles away, against always-competitive-but-remarkably-unpredictable Louisville, No. 3 out of Big Least. Attendance: 50,000. Payout: $1.6 million per team. (NOTE: Google the word Belk. If you have an ounce of testosterone, be prepared to shed it now).
Bowl season has more pathetic qualities than endearing ones, especially when one considers just how many teams make it and how many are just plain lousy at football. But it’s really not about the quality of the teams, or the lack thereof. It’s all about the almighty dollar. That’s probably why State Penn and the Ohio State Schmuckeye administration put up with all that, uh, junk for so long.
But if one were to abandon the sarcastic playing field that is the NCAA, then yes, the bowls are about painting your face and driving for an insane number of hours and tailgating your ass off, win or lose.
So if the Purdue-Western Michigan Little Caesar’s Bowl in Detroit does it for ya, then don a toga and a cold one (probably Miller High Life, but be prepared for that portly African-American dude to take it from you if you’re sittin’ with the rich folks and don’t know the score) and scream yourself hoarse for that $600,000 that won’t reduce your grand nephew’s tuition.
‘Cuz it’s Bowl Week … and come Jan. 9, LSU, Alabama, Michigan, Virginia Tech, Clemson and a few other big guys will be tens of millions of dollars richer and Wyoming and Temple will be the afterthought they were on Dec. 17.
Vin Cappiello is a special contributor to Couchsideshow.com. We would like to thank “Cap” for letting us use his blog. You can read more of Vin’s blogs by visiting, http://www.ballino.blogspot.com.