New Year's Day will be an all-NFL affair this year. Even those who couldn't really care are saying, So? That’s what happens when New Year's Day falls on a Sunday. (Only twice this past decade.) So why not let the colleges play on New Year’s Day, and move the pros to the next day. It’s not like they’ve never played on Monday.
But the Sunday thing only masks the real trouble with college bowl games. It's been brewing for a while now, and like everything, we won’t bother to address it until it's too far gone to fix. Just like budget deficits, pollution, derivatives or civility between Republicans and Democrats.
Champions of the Bowl Championship Selection process are now collectively staring over the tops of their eyeglasses in consternation. They’re quite proud of their accomplishments of the last decade or so. On their website they refer to their program as one of the most successful events in the history of college football.
“Thanks to the BCS,” they note, “the top two teams have played each other 12 times in 12 years by BCS measurements and nine times in the last 12 according to the AP pollincluding the last six years in a row. Additionally, (the BCS) has provided more access to the major bowls for all eleven conferences, more television exposure, and more postseason revenue than ever before.”
Roy Riegels running the wrong way in the 1929 Rose Bowl. The Cal center rumbled 65 yards after picking up a Georgia Tech fumble, only towards the his own goal line rather than Tech's. The college bowl system may be headed in the wrong direction as well.
All that may be true. (Although a majority of people still want to see a playoff system. You can’t please everybody. It seems like the BCS can’t even please a majority.) But it sure has become all about the Benjamins.
Mawkishly sentimental traditionalists are left feeling a little like Hotelier Max Kellerman in Dirty Dancing
when he tells (the
) Charles 'Honi' Coles right before the big closing number,: “Somehow it all feels like it's slipping away.“ Things really have gotten a little out of control, and all in service to the higher cause of financial gain.
Despite the free market palaver that free-market enthusiasts like to spout, what's good for business isn't necessarily good for you unless your interests happen to align with theirs. This may not be one of those times.
Everybody used to get to see four premier college games on New Year's. The Cotton Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Rose Bowl and, if you could stay awake (or go in late the next day) the Orange Bowl. Each with a signature logo emblazoned on the 50-yard line and used for commercial breaks and station breaks along with the wish, generally in white script, for a Happy New Year!
People looked forward to the games almost as much as New Year's Eve. If you could just make it to your couch, you were set for the rest of the day.
In 1930 the Rose Bowl (played annually since 1916) was the only game in town. Any town. By 1940, there were five bowl games: Rose, Sugar, Cotton, Orange and Sun.
In 1950, there were eight, and games were still played mostly on New Years Day. But then more bowl games began playing games earlier in December, and games started popping up cities not associated with winter vacation destinations. Originally they were tourist attractions, yes.