It’s Bowl season in College Football and we do mean season. Between Saturday December 15, 2012 and Monday January 6, 2013 there will be a total of 35 bowl games with a grand total payout of $260,673,125.
That’s right, over $260 million is going to the teams that play in the bowl games and their conferences. The biggest payout is the BCS National Championship game which pays out $18 million to each team and the cheapest is the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl which pays $325,000 to each team. In any event, this is big money.
But should there be so many games? When this kind of money is on the table the response is usually an unequivocal YES! Yet if you remove the dollar amounts think about this; in some cases they are rewarding mediocrity.
12 .500 teams will play in bowl games (2 games will actually feature .500 teams against one another) and 1 sub-.500 team. Georgia Tech will get paid $2,000,000 to play USC in the SUN Bowl on New Years Eve Day. A team with a 6-7 record is getting $2,000,000.
Virginia Tech by all accounts had a down year. They have played in 5 BCS Games (which have multimillion dollar payouts) in the last 10 years. With high preseason expectations they find themselves at 6-6 and heading to the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Florida. While a 6-6 season is a down year for Va Tech it is an exceptional year for their conference rivals Duke. Duke is going bowling for the 1st time since 1994 (the game was played on January 2, 1995) in which they lost to Wisconsin. So a 6-6 season to Duke is a success.
Even with this perspective is it appropriate to award a post season game and in some cases millions of dollars to a team that didn’t even have a winning record? If the answer is ‘no’ then there should be less bowl games. If the argument is for the current system then please this Bloomberg article from 2010. Just because you go to a bowl game doesn’t guarantee a financial windfall for the teams or the conference. It also doesn’t teach college athletes to strive to be better.
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