Earlier today I was watching the Daytona pre-race coverage on Fox while gently dozing on my couch. I find that modern day NASCAR is best viewed in a semi-catatonic state, as it is both designed and marketed for a demographic that inhabits that mental gap permanently. Regardless, somewhere through the fog of my snoozing I heard Darrell Waltrip seal-bark something resembling the following English-language sentence: “Imagine if your other favorite sport had its biggest event at the beginning of the season like we do in NASCAR.”
Now granted this sounded (perhaps due to my resting haze but more likely attributable to Waltrip’s Tennessee background) more like “imgn ifny odder fvorine sportin had stff at beg gginn liken we did in NNNNNNAAASSSCCCAARRRRR”, but the thought still hit me like a thunderbolt.
What if college football started off the season with its biggest games?
The biggest games are the bowl games, of course, so what would it be like if we started the season with them?
The concept got me to thinking. It also ruined my NASCAR nap. Excitedly I pulled out pen and paper and began fleshing out the specifics. I first wrote down every marquee bowl game I could think of. I left off the lesser ESPN bowls, the ones named after tires, or the ones played on blue fields, and although this was not my intention, coincidently eliminated any bowl that CTU has played in over the last ten years or could hope to compete in for the near future.
That left me with Orange/Sugar/Fiesta/Chickfila/Cotton/Rose/Gator/Outback and a couple of those western bowls that Notre Dame and the PAC-10 pretend to be excited about. Instead of New Years Day bowls these all would, under my plan, become Labor Day bowls.
It occurred to me that if we played all of those at the beginning of the year it would restore them to their original meaning: nothing. They would mean nothing other than providing us with a good out-of-conference tilt to open the football year. No national title implications, no concerns other than having a few chambers of commerce trying to set up good ball games that would show well locally and to a TV audience. The bowl games would be celebrations of the sports and of the teams, not diluted by larger implications. Heck the Chickfila folks have already blazed the trail for us with their wildly-successful kickoff classic game.
What of the BCS and the polls and the search for a national title? Keep them all, but keep them at the end of the year as a part of a playoff. Conference champs only (probably should make the ACC and WAC have a play-in but that’s a blog for a different day) in an eight game playoff culminating with a national title game on January 1st.
Best of both worlds.
Only shortcoming I can see is having a bunch of seniors fighting and clawing to earn a Gator Bowl bid, just to see the underclassmen enjoying it the following fall while they are out in the workforce.
Solution? Comp them each with a couple of tickets and an Ole Miss coed. Problem solved.
So the playoff/bowl controversy is solved at last.
You’re welcome, college football.