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 galleryfurniture.com Bowl, the TicketCity Bowl (new for 2011!), the EagleBank Bowl, or the Insight.com 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 EV1.net 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 GoDaddy.com 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.