Bowl games have no place in the College Football Playoff

There is a strong argument against Bowl games having a place in the College Football Playoff.
Robert Beck/Getty Images

By Braden Gall

Nick Saban wants college football to focus more on the bowls.

His biggest fear is that the College Football Playoff is taking too much attention away from prestigious and historically significant games like the Poulan Weed-Eater Bowl.

With TV ratings soaring for bowl games and new games pushing the total number of bowls to 41, Saban and fellow bowl czar Bill Hancock couldn’t be more wrong.

However, Hancock’s beloved bowl system — one that was grandfathered into the Playoff structure via cronyism — should have absolutely nothing to do with the College Football Playoff.

Ignore the fact that 80 teams will be playing in bowls this year and that the “sanctity of the bowl system” is stronger than it’s ever been before. Start with the main reason college football is the best sport on the planet.

The pageantry that exists on campuses across the country on fall Saturdays is what separates the college game from the NFL. Other than the Green Bay Packers, who are publicly owned, where in pro sports are the fans and organization an interwoven community like in college football? The nostalgia of alumni returning to campus for games is a treasured ritual in American culture. 

Why would the College Football Playoff want to remove one of the most critical aspects of the game from the postseason? It should want to showcase the amazing locations and historic venues while awarding the higher seeds with home-field advantage in the process.

Alabama and Ohio State in The Horseshoe? Yes, please. USC and LSU in Death Valley? Are you kidding? Texas and Florida in The Swamp? Hell yeah. It sounds a lot better than Oklahoma and Michigan in Sun Life Stadium.

And what happens when the tourney expands to eight? Can the Playoff honestly ask fans to travel to neutral-site games three weeks in a row immediately after returning home from a conference title game?

Just wait until a Playoff game features Stanford and Virginia Tech in Dallas and there are 20,000 empty seats in JerryWorld. Lane Stadium wouldn’t have that problem.

The gameday atmosphere would be better. Ticket sales are a known commodity and local economies would benefit (instead of bowl organizers). Friends and families of players and coaches would potentially be able to attend in greater numbers and it wouldn't cost them as much money either. The better team gains a legitimate advantage after earning it in the regular season.

Even kickoff dates and times are being manipulated because the bowl system is involved.

The Rose Bowl has forced the majority of the Playoff games to New Year’s Eve because it refuses to budge off its hallowed New Year’s kickoff time slot.

If “The Granddaddy of Them All” wasn’t involved in the process, it wouldn’t be able to strong-arm the entire structure into doing what it wants. On the contrary, if the Rose Bowl were in danger of missing out on viewers, there is no doubt it would move its start time to guarantee ratings.

The powers that be want to protect the bowl system. They want to ensure that students get a celebratory trip to a “postseason” game, that fans get a farewell send-off to each season, that smaller schools get the national spotlight to themselves for one night and that TV partners are loaded down with meaningful inventory during the holiday season.

All of this is true and not one bit of it would change if the bowls were removed from the Playoff.

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