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By Anonymous Mike, pseudonymously.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009
I've Got GMAC Bowl Fever

It's January 6th; they played the Fiesta Bowl last night, the Orange and the Sugar last week, and tonite they are playing the GMAC Bowl. There's something wrong with that.

When I was a wee lad, there was a definite structure to the college football season. A structure, a system, a hierarchy that made some degree of sense and that rewarded virtue. It went something like this...

If you were part of a college football team and you had a really good season, you got to do what pretty much all such good teams did... you got to play on past the end of the regular season. Not a playoff game like every other sport in every other league, but you got to go to a bowl game. It was a big deal, some colleges went many years, if not decades, between bowl games. You got to go some part of the country you usually didn't go to and play some team your school probably last played during the Johnson Administration.

There also was a definite hierarchy built into the bowl schedule; the better your season the closer you got to play to New Year's Day. If you were just good, you maybe got some game just before or after Christmas. If you were pretty good, maybe you got a game New Year's Eve or early New Year's Day; the Sun, the Citrus, or perhaps the Gator. Of course if you were really, really good, you played later on New Year's Day in the Sugar or Orange.

That was then, this is now.

Instead of bowl games being a reward for an exceptional season, invitations are handed out to one and all. Last I counted there were 34 bowls which meant that more than half of all Division I or FBS or FUBAR or whatever they call that classification of teams are going to a game. You have to have a real bozo of season (see ASU) to be sitting home.

Instead of having a nice heirarchy of schedule, we have games like the GMAC Bowl scheduled between the Fiesta and the national championship game. Rather than having the season build to climatic moment on New Year's Night with bleary-eyed fans, after previously watching that day the Citrus/Gator/Cotton/Rose/Fiesta Bowls, tuned into either the Sugar or Orange Bowl to see who would stake claim to the national championship, we instead have the season dragged out for a full week after New Year's. In the good ole days, last week's Orange Bowl snoozefest between Virginia Tech and Cincinnati would have led us to turning the channel to the Utah-Alabama Sugar Bowl as opposed to turning the TV off and spending quality time with our families.

Finally the bowls themselves have been NASCARed; not only have they proliferated like payday loan stores but they have acquired names that separate them from their communities and history. Don't get me wrong, corporate sponsorship may be a necessary evil but there is a world of difference between the FedEx Orange and the Bowl. Not only have new bowls emerged with such names, but older bowls have changed their names to things like Chick-Fil-A (Peach), Insight (Copper) and Capital One (Citrus.)

So here's my modest proposal. We all know why the bowl season has gotten out of hand, money. More games mean more programming. Corporate sponsorship brings in money and the more the corporate name is prominently displayed the more money it brings in. However we also know that college football survives because of the tradition and community it generates among its fans, dilute the product too much and the game just becomes a Saturday bridge between Friday Night Lights and the NFL. So we need to step in and save the bowl system.

Not a playoff system, I like a little bit of uncertainity and plus life is a little unfair. So every now and then we get some controversey, so what? We'll get just as much if we went to a playoff system because no matter if you go to a 8-team playoff or 4 bowls + 1 or whatever somebody will always complain they should be in the playoffs.

So here we go:

First raise the win-total to be bowl eligible from 6 to 8. 6 might have made a little bit of sense when most schools played an 11-game season but now with a universal 12-game schedule, it just means you can be a .500 team and playing in Champs Sports Bowl. If we raised the standard this year we would have cut the number of bowl elible teams by about 24 schools which means...

...we can cut the number of bowls down to about 22. That seems like a good number

However every year there seems to be a feel-good story about a school that comes from nowhere and pulls off a half-decent season which gets everyone excited. So let's throw in an exception, allow 4 teams in that get 7 wins but make them go some place that has a rinky dink name; the or San Diego County Credit Union Poinsetta Bowl or something. A team that hasn't been to a bowl game in 10 years would run through hell in a gasoline suit to play the PapaJohns while an LSU would reject the invite and that's just the point.

All games will be played by the close of New Year's (or Jan. 2 if New Year's falls on a weekend) with the exception of the national championship game which needs to be played the next day. No waiting a week, play the game, get it done, and move off the sports calendar

The only games to be played on New Year's will be quality events, no foolish corporate name bowls like Outback or Champs Sports. Capital One can stay if it restores either the Citrus or Tangerine in its name.

The GMAC Bowl will be forced to either change its name or be put of its misery, you just cannot have a bowl named after a corporation that is the recipient of government bailout money.