I'm not the world's biggest college football fan. Not only does the NCAA steadfastly refuse to institute a simple playoff system, but they even managed to butcher the nonsensical Bowl game system that they use in its place. The Bowls all used to be on New Years Eve or New Years Day, which made them an annual tradition for hungover Americans. Now they're scattered all the hell over the place between Thanksgiving and January 10, with hardly any games of significance held on the traditional date. This scheduling change is due in part to the fact that there are now dozens of Bowls – 35, to be exact, meaning that a whopping 70 of the 119 FBS (I-A) teams go to a Bowl. How else will the nation be treated to epic tilts like 6-6 Illinois vs. 6-7 UCLA? How else will the timeless rivalry between San Diego State and Louisiana-Lafayette be resolved?

Colleges love going to Bowl games; it's a nice payday. Big time, major games like the Rose or Orange Bowls have payouts well into eight figures. It's also a mark of prestige for the program. In theory. I mean, it's pretty cool to describe your team with the phrase "Sugar Bowl champions." Unfortunately some of the "bowls" to which we are now subjected make that difficult. It's pretty hard to get excited about going to, or even winning, a game with a ridiculous name. Here's a quick breakdown of the least-bragworthy Bowl games of this year and years past:

1. Bowls named after depressing geographic locations: Admit it, you were all jazzed to see Temple clash with Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl, right? How about the Mobile Alabama Bowl, the Fort Worth Bowl, the St. Petersburg Bowl, or the ever-popular Seattle Bowl?

2. Bowls named after bizarre, obscure corporate sponsors: This category brings us classics like the BBVA Compass Bowl (formerly the equally lame Birmingham Bowl), the Poulan Weed-Eater Independence Bowl, the Bowl, the TicketCity Bowl (new for 2011!), the EagleBank Bowl, or the Bowl.

3. Bowls with just plain stupid names: There exists a game called the "Beef O'Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg." This not only fails the most basic naming convention – ending in "Bowl" – but it names the game after a seriously disgusting regional fast food chain that is unknown to most of the country. Is the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (formerly the MPC Computers Bowl) a real thing? Honorable mention: the defunct "Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl Presented by Bridgestone."

4. Established Bowls we still laugh at: Even though it has a long history, does anyone say San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl without laughing? The Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas (formerly the Houston Bowl) seems like it has been around for a while, only if one confuses it with the former Meineke Car Care Bowl, which is now the Belk Bowl (after the Southern department store where old people pass the time waiting to die). Does a team even accept the trophy from something called the "Meineke Car Care Bowl" or is it best to forget the whole thing happened? What university wouldn't be proud to say it won the Bowl (formerly the housing crisis-inducing "GMAC Bowl")?

5. Honorable Mention, Wussy-Sounding Names Division: It's hard to tell if the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl or the Roady's Truck Stops Humanitarian Bowl are charity events, 5k fun-runs, or football games. And just wait until you see the shitstorm of pink that will be the forthcoming (2012-13) Susan G. Komen For the Cure Bowl, hopefully featuring a halftime show by a Cure cover band made up of breast cancer survivors. Let's not forget the defunct Charity Bowl, Bluebonnet Bowl, Mercy Bowl, and the eminently fragile Glass Bowl.

Seriously, NCAA: enough. Knock it off. An eight team playoff will take all of three weeks. For the love of the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, stop all of this insanity.


  • Really! 70 teams out of 119 go to a "Bowl" game?

    Sounds like the NCAA answer to Little Guy FB, where *everyone* gets a trophy for participating, but w corporate naming rights.

  • The Everlasting Dave says:

    I was unaware that Little Caesar's Pizza still existed, until I saw they had a bowl game. This ridiculousness, plus Lee Corso, is more than enough to keep me on the NFL side of things.

  • The city of San Diego just made around $30 million off our two bowl games. So yeah, there's a vested interest in keeping this going, besides simply the benefit to universities involved. As a sports fan, I know it is asinine, but as a resident of a major destination city… I'll take the money!

  • Excellent post but the Seattle shit talking will not be tolerated. Actually, it will be but there will be passive aggressive shit talking when you leave.

    You have been warned!

  • c u n d gulag says:

    I live in NY State, and I always wanted to see them hold "The Tidy Bowl" Game in Flushing, Queens.

    They could have held it in Shea Stadium, which was a dump.

    I always felt that was a natural, and wondered how the Tidy Bowl people ever missed that?

    And was the Poulan Weed-Eater Independence Bowl game ever held on an astroturf field, or would that have sent the wrong message?

    And yes, I once loved college football as much as anyone, and watched all or most of the big bowl games, depending on how drunk, high, or hungover I was.

    Now, I don't even watch the championship game because it's held late on a Monday night, and I really don't give a shit.
    Which reminds me – Charmin Toilet Paper would also have also been a good product for Flushing.

  • I am that curmudgeon in the college town sports bar, telling the kids to go fuck themselves when Bowl talk raises its ugly head. But Iowa Sate will play Rutgers, a school marked indelibly on my mind when I saw a cartoon with Bullwinkle playing for them. Go Rutgers!

  • Basketball should seriously consider replacing March Madness with this type of system. You could jerryrig the rankings so that only ACC teams would play for the national title game. And the games could be played on aircraft carriers floating in the middle of the Pacific. What's not to like?

  • Actually, before it was the BBVA Compass Bowl, it was the "Papa John's dot com Bowl." Also interesting to note that there was no Papa John's Pizza available at their bowl game. The stadium was not equipped with pizza ovens.

    I hate football.

  • The Beef O'Brady's Bowl is hands-down my favorite because you can just smell the diarrhea.

    For depressing places, you forgot the Independence bowl in Shreveport, LA. I love Louisiana, but even I have to admit that Shreveport is not that exciting.

  • I'm so old I can remember when it was the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl. At the time I thought that was the funniest-sounding bowl name there ever was or could be.

  • The NCAA might be the most nakedly money-grubbing institution that isn't explicitly a for-profit business that I can think of.

  • [Full disclosure: I live in Albuquerque.]

    How is New Mexico a depressing geographical location? (Remember: El Paso is in Texas.) What with the gorgeous mountains and 300+ days of sunshine, we're actually a pretty happy lot.

    It's not like they play the game in Roswell; southern NM is pretty destitute, admittedly, but people who live in Georgia…well, you can see where I'm going with this.

    Also, too, seconded that Shreveport is a pit. I got kicked out of a Red Roof Inn there many years ago (and banned from Red Roof Inns for life) but that's another story.

  • @jeneria

    I used to live in Shreveport. Geographically and culturally it's closer to Texas or Arkansas than it is to South Louisiana.

    It's a much shorter drive to Dallas than to New Orleans and most people in Shreveport root for the Cowboys and not the Saints.

  • "It's hard to tell if the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl or the Roady's Truck Stops Humanitarian Bowl are charity events, 5k fun-runs, or football games."

    … or new frozen food items available at your local supermarket, look for a money-saving coupon in this week's Tribune!

  • Ed –

    Great post, but you neglected to mention that the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl was formerly The Motor City Bowl. How could a Detroit hater like you miss that?

    Also, a big gaffe at the end of para. 5: Honorable Mention. The Glass Bowl is the football stadium of the University of Toledo, my alma mammy, not the name of any "bowl" game. It is also one of several New Deal projects completed in the city.

    The stadium was renamed "The Glass Bowl in 1946," the year I was born. Finding this article was not only informative, but surprising. I actually knew Wayne Kohn – many years later, but still long ago.

    BTW, 8-4 U of T beat the Air Force Academy 42-41 in the Military Bowl on Wed.

    Go Rockets!

    Cheers — and Happy New Year!

  • Aw, c'mon. It's no secret that the NCAA are nothing but corporate whores who care nothing for the sport and have nothing, but disdain for the athletes because they're the only entity that gets FREE labor.

    "What?" you say? "Those kids get a free college education!" Yeah, not really. Most scholarship athletes are minimally enrolled in school and the marginal cost of adding one more student in a school of tens of thousands of students is, frankly, almost nothing. Each class sees almost no change unless that extra student would require a change of venue to a larger class size. Short of the extra time grading tests and homework and reading papers for one student, which depending on the class may or may not be very much time at all, the cost to the university is almost nil.

    So, especially big time colleges make tens of millions of dollars for a negligible investment and the lobbying group for them, the NCAA tries to spin stories about "it's all about the student athlete".

    When you consider the heinous shit the Universities are allowed to get away with and receive nothing more than a slap on the wrist and then consider that a student who so much as QUESTIONS the legitimacy of the NCAA gets pimp slapped so hard he or she wakes up ineligible to ever compete as an amateur ever again… it's not hard to see where the NCAA is coming from.

    A kid takes a hamburger or a $50 bus ticket to go home because he's homesick and he's banned for life. A big time college violates hundreds of rules and they may or may not even see a sanction.

    People talk about the ethical black hole that is Wall Street. And I agree, it totally is a black hole of ethics. Numero Uno, in fact. That said, now that we're playing for second place, I nominate the NCAA. Yeah, I think they give Congress a run for their money. Seriously.

    There'll never, EVER be a playoff because the current bowl system is pure graft. It's a way to pay off as many schools as possible and lasso in as many corporate sponsors as possible.

    I mean… *loud guffaw*… you didn't think the NCAA gave a shit about the SPORT did you???

  • @ makeyeser

    Could we please put to rest the zombie lie that sports make money for universities. please. The article bh linked to will give you a start. Then maybe you can wrap your mind around the idea that big time college sports is just university administrators whoring out university funds and facilities to our corporate overlords and their politician sycophants, all with the blessing of athletic departments which have bloated salaries, sky high maintenance costs, tons of money losing sports, and worst of all they have no understanding about what scholarship or education is about. If college sports were a business, they would all be out of business, except one or two programs that barely break even. Unfortunately (in state schools) they are just another form of corporate welfare.

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