I had been waiting for this moment the entire holiday season like a child anticipating the arrival of a new toy. My family and friends had been warned: nothing, but nothing, would stand in the way of this glorious day of celebration and beauty.
Yes, I’m talking about the Motor City Bowl, one of 32 NCAA college football bowl games played from December 20 to January 7. Who wouldn’t want to support a bowl game named after glorious Detroit?
You say you don’t care about the Motor City Bowl? Was it because your appetite for bowl games had been satisfied already by the Papajohns.com Bowl December 22, the R + L Carriers New Orleans Bowl December 21, or perhaps the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsetta Bowl December 20?
Or are you just sick of the proliferation and hype surrounding the bowls? Well, I can’t say I blame you.
Bowl games are certainly easy targets by sports purists for cheapening the value of post-season college football play and standing in the way of a true college playoff system. And the purists have a point.
It used to be that watching a bowl game meant enjoying one of a handful of prestigious, time-honored classics like the Rose Bowl, Cotton Bowl, or Sugar Bowl — sort of like your basic choice of TV networks before cable came along. Fans had some assurance that the best teams in the NCAA conferences would qualify for the few precious bowl invitations extended.
But there’s just too much money to be made and too many corporate sponsorship opportunities for the college bowl season to be contained by just a few moldy contests, and it’s as simple as that. Bowl games mean big money for the host cities and networks, and the NCAA is happy to oblige. According to USA Today, during last year’s bowl season, champions from the six major NCAA conferences generated $17 million apiece for their leagues in Bowl Champion Series games.
Don’t like it? Get used to it. You’re going to continue to see more bowl games sprouting like weeds each year and a periodic re-branding of the mainstays, like the Rose Bowl presented by Citi, or the FedEx Orange.
Moreover, the newer-generation bowl games, while lacking prestige and tradition, have permitted some lesser known teams the chance to extend their seasons with the allure of a bowl game.
And some of the minor bowls are actually quite fun to watch — sort of like enjoying a supermarket tabloid or a brilliant Elvis impersonator, really.
Case in point: last night at the Motor City Bowl, Purdue nipped Central Michigan as time expired, 51-48. It wasn’t the BCS championship, not even close.
But tell that to Purdue and Central Michigan.