Snoozing through yet another bowl season
By Scott Michaux| Columnist
Sunday, December 27, 2009

Episodes 10 and 11 of a 34-part bowl series hit cable TV tonight and Monday. At least these installments provide some regional incentive to divert our attention away from Law & Order reruns or Dr. Phil .

Clemson, with its snubbed Heisman hopeful C.J. Spiller, faces Kentucky in a rematch of the 2006 Music City Bowl tonight. The Tigers look to snap three-bowl skid and a season-souring two-game losing streak.

Then on Monday when most people punch their time cards and begin the commute home, Georgia kicks off against Texas A&M in that postseason Mecca known as Shreveport, La. The Independence Bowl is that happy reassurance for teams to know that their season was not a total failure.

Each game gets exclusive time slots on ESPN -- two of the 24 bowl games broadcast on the network that must be an acronym for Every Snap Pleases Nobody.

Is anyone really excited about any of this? Is this really the system that Division I-A colleges are fighting so hard to preserve?

The logic behind the perpetuation of the dumbest postseason system in all of sports continues to escape me. That the people in charge actually went so far as to label football's top two subdivisions "bowl" and "championship" further illustrates that even they recognize that only one of them follows a legitimate protocol for defining a national champion.

Division I-AA crowned a true national title team a week ago -- concluding a 16-team playoff before a single one of the 34 bowl games was even played. Villanova got to celebrate its title game victory and still have six shopping days left before Christmas.

I'm sure Georgia's players and fans would have preferred getting this postseason exhibition over with in time to spend the holidays in the comfort of their own homes.

How excited can people be to pack up right after Christmas and travel to Shreveport to see if the Bulldogs can pick off that eighth victory and send the Aggies home to Texas with a losing record?

Is this really the system we have to live with forever? Sixty-eight of 120 Division I-A teams received invitations to bowl games. To save you the effort of doing the math in your head, that's 57 percent of all programs. Even the NFL (37.5 percent) is more selective than that. Division I-AA only invites 12.8 percent of its pool to the playoffs.

No sport rewards mediocrity more than college football. Eight teams earned bowl bids with 6-6 records. Sixteen more got in with five losses that translate into a 42 percent regular-season failure rate. This isn't parity -- it's charity.

The Southeastern Conference is sending 10 of its 12 teams to bowls, six of which had at least five losses. How bad do you have to feel if you're Vanderbilt or Mississippi State and have to sit out the prom?

I understand giving teams a reward and incentive for finishing up the season as strongly as possible. Those consolation bowls wouldn't have to end even if college football's leaders did the right thing and established a 16-team or eight-team championship playoff. If basketball can have a postseason NIT, there will always be room for South Carolina in a PapaJohns.com Bowl.

But this problem is more about the top than the bottom. This season as much as any other illustrates why college football needs a playoff.

Five teams finished the season undefeated, yet only Alabama and Texas get to face off for the mythical title dubbed BCS. There may be little doubt that the Crimson Tide is the best team in the country, but would it really be so bad if they had to resolve that in a tournament that also gave unbeaten conference champions Texas Christian, Boise State and Cincinnati a fair chance to state their own cases?

At the very least give the eight highest rated conference champions a berth in the playoffs and seed them. Based on this year's BCS standings, Alabama would open against Georgia Tech, Texas against Ohio State, Cincy against Oregon and that TCU-Boise State matchup would have more at stake than the pride that's on tap in the Fiesta Bowl.

Those eight teams have six combined losses between them -- which is half the number of losses on tap in the Insight Bowl pitting 6-6ers Minnesota and Iowa State.

Wouldn't you watch every one of those games to see who moves on? Couldn't that rival the NFL playoffs for ratings and notoriety?

I hope that in my lifetime I'll get the chance to see something like that. Until that day comes, please join me in continuing to ignore the bowls the same way they ignore the fans' pleas for sanity.

Reach Scott Michaux at (706) 823-3219 or scott.michaux@augustachronicle.com.

From the Sunday, December 27, 2009 edition of the Augusta Chronicle
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