Bowl games are good. There are too many of them. Both things are true.
We’re holding steady at 41 on this year’s schedule, counting the National Championship, and again have multiple 5-7 teams that made it in because we ran out of 6-6 teams (Mississippi State and North Texas this time).
Players and fans getting to take trips is good (though these days, some players evidently do not wish to take these trips, which is fine), and constant football on the TV is good. But toning this sloppy mess up just a little bit is a thing we’re gonna have to consider at some point. Many bowls are poorly attended, and though these things are mostly just TV product, TV is not the stablest long-term foundation.
So let’s say, just for fun (I guess), that we cap bowl eligibility at 7-5, rather than 6-6, and do away with any exemptions for teams below that mark. If we can’t fill a bowl without putting a winning team in it, we skip that bowl this year. That wouldn’t work IRL, but this is just an internet blog post.
Here’s how things might look for 2016 if we dropped all 20 .500-or-worse bowl-eligible teams and then slid some teams around, taking it down to a slightly less heaping buffet of 31 bowls:
|Alamo||Colorado - Oklahoma State||Colorado - Oklahoma State|
|Arizona||Air Force - South Alabama||On hiatus|
|Armed Forces||Louisiana Tech - Navy||Louisiana Tech - Navy|
|Bahamas||EMU - Old Dominion||EMU - Old Dominion|
|Belk||Arkansas - Virginia Tech||Arkansas - Virginia Tech|
|Birmingham||South Carolina - USF||Appalachian State - USF||Maybe|
|Boca Raton||Memphis - WKU||On hiatus|
|Cactus||Baylor - Boise State||Boise State - Stanford||Yeah|
|Camellia||Appalachian State - Toledo||On hiatus|
|Citrus||Louisville - LSU||Louisville - LSU|
|Cotton||Wisconsin - WMU||Wisconsin - WMU|
|Cure||Arkansas State - UCF||On hiatus|
|Dollar General||Ohio - Troy||On hiatus|
|Fiesta semifinal||Clemson - Ohio State||Clemson - Ohio State|
|Foster Farms||Indiana - Utah||On hiatus|
|Hawaii||Hawaii - MTSU||MTSU - Troy||Maybe|
|Heart of Dallas||Army - North Texas||On hiatus|
|Holiday||Minnesota - Washington State||Minnesota - Washington State|
|Idaho Potato||Colorado State - Idaho||Colorado State - Idaho|
|Independence||NC State - Vanderbilt||On hiatus|
|Las Vegas||San Diego State - Houston||San Diego State - Houston|
|Liberty||Georgia - TCU||Georgia - Pitt||Maybe|
|Miami Beach||CMU - Tulsa||On hiatus|
|Military||Temple - Wake Forest||Air Force - Temple||Maybe|
|Music City||Nebraska - Tennessee||Nebraska - Tennessee|
|New Mexico||New Mexico - UTSA||New Mexico - Tulsa||Yeah|
|New Orleans||Southern Miss - UL Lafayette||Arkansas State - Memphis||Yeah|
|Orange||FSU - Michigan||FSU - Michigan|
|Outback||Iowa - Florida||Iowa - Florida|
|Peach semifinal||Alabama - Washington||Alabama - Washington|
|Pinstripe||Pitt - Northwestern||Army - Ohio||No|
|Poinsettia||BYU - Wyoming||BYU - Wyoming|
|Quick Lane||Boston College - Maryland||Toledo - WKU||YEAH|
|Rose||Penn State - USC||Penn State - USC|
|Russell Athletic||Miami - West Viginia||Miami - West Viginia|
|St. Petersburg||Miami (Ohio) - Mississippi State||On hiatus|
|Sugar||Auburn - Oklahoma||Auburn - Oklahoma|
|Sun||North Carolina - Stanford||North Carolina - Utah||Maybe|
|TaxSlayer||Georgia Tech - Kentucky||Georgia Tech - Kentucky|
|Texas||Kansas State - Texas A&M||Kansas State - Texas A&M|
The Quick Lane Bowl upgrade alone is worth doing this.
Bowls that get cut are mostly newer, lightly attended, and/or pretty redundant (we do not need three different Orlando bowls, for example). Geographic diversity is also a factor. There aren’t many Midwestern bowls, so Detroit’s Quick Lane Bowl gets preference over a third bowl in Louisiana that no one is crazy about (the Independence Bowl).
I moved Stanford around because Utah found itself without a home or opponent, but the Utes were picked ahead of the Cardinal in the Pac-12’s order this year. Otherwise, I just plopped the few teams that needed new homes into vacated spots based on some vague combo of merit and geography, without paying much attention to current conference contracts (since those are pretty flexible anyway). The Hawaii Bowl has no geography to it at all, but that’s often the case.
Also, I made the Pinstripe Bowl worse. I’m sorry.
What do you think? Should I delete this and just put it all back the way it was? Should we go further? Could the Foster Farms Bowl beat the Browns? Was the world better off with 5-7 Mississippi State scheduled to play 6-6 Miami (Ohio) in St. Petersburg’s Dagobah Park?