It just feels like any other day. It is neither special nor different. A slight headache; kids and the significant other is home. A bit tired. But that is all. The 2009 edition of New Year’s Day feels just like any other day — or any other New Year’s Day in recent memory.
The angle I am running here is not the day itself, but the fact that the impact of the college football world on New Year’s Day just is not the same anymore. Thusfar I have watched a total of five minutes of college football today. I saw Clemson run one play against Nebraska; then switched over and watched South Carolina do nothing against Iowa; then watched a tip-drill interception [TRANSFER!] by Michigan State of a Matthew Stafford pass. Then I turned away [although I did switch back to the Georgia-MSU game in time to see Knowshon Moreno break a run that was called back because he was apparently down]. The New Year’s Day bowl games just do not have the appeal that they used to. I found myself more interested in the novelty hockey game at Wrigley Field between the Red Wings and Blackhawks rather than watching football — and I HATE the Red Wings and do not care much for the ‘Hawks. What has happened?
Since the 1999-2000 bowl season, I have watched a total of six BCS bowl games — 2000 Orange Bowl [Alabama v. Michigan]; 2004 Sugar Bowl [LSU v. Oklahoma]; 2006 Rose Bowl [USC v. Texas]; 2007 Fiesta Bowl [Boise State v. Oklahoma] and 2007 BCS game [Florida v. Ohio State]; and the 2008 Sugar Bowl [Hawai’i v. Georgia]. And of those six, only the Orange Bowl was watched in its entirety. That means I have only watched six of 38 possible BCS bowl games since 1999-2000. And even if I added in other New Year’s Day games, I could only add the 2006 Cotton Bowl. It used to not be that way. So what is the problem?
Some will blame the saturation of bowl games. I could agree that there probably are too many bowl games — I am a firm believer that .500 teams do not deserve to play in a bowl game because a loss would push them to a losing record. On the other hand, the whole bowl “season” is nothing more than an exhibition (as argued before), so the number of bowl games is not that important. However, the fact that there is a two-week runup of games leading to the New Year’s Day games could be important, given that 22 of the 34 games have already been played. So, many point to this and note that burnout could play a role. Yet, I disagree on two points. First, from a personal level, I have always enjoyed both the “lower-tier” bowl games as well as the major bowls. I like seeing teams that are not regularly on the major networks [unlike Alabama, who seemed to be on television every week]; teams like Troy or Rice or Central Michigan [and am still looking forward to the Tulsa-Ball State game]. And yet, I enjoy the big dogs, too. But I have tended not to watch ANYONE on or after New Year’s Day in the last few years (whereas before I would always watch on New Year’s Day). Second, during the regular season, college football comes on just about every day of the week. And on Saturdays, there are games going on from noon Eastern Time until midnight Eastern Time (if there is a home game for Hawai’i, the games might not end until 3am!). THAT is saturation. So I do not buy the burnout/bowl saturation argument.
I think that we are looking in the wrong direction in terms of the dates when bowl games are played. I think it is the fact that games are now played AFTER New Year’s Day that has significantly diminished the bowl games on that day. I do remember some bowl games occuring on 1 January one year; but that was because 1 January fell on a Sunday that year and it was when the NCAA cared about not playing football on that day. But I think that spreading out the “traditional” New Year’s Day games to the degree that has been done with the Bowl Coalition/Alliance and moreso with the BCS has destroyed the appeal of New Year’s Day games. It does not mean that much anymore. It is like the power of New Year’s Day bowls has been spread thin across the first week of January. Adding “lower-tier,” post-New Year’s Day bowls like the GMAC Bowl [which still tends to be one of the more entertaining games of the exhibition season] and the International Bowl [which tends to be the most boring — although the Sun Bowl will win the honors this year] continues to lessen the appeal of these games.
I believe that the stretching out of New Year’s Day games has been the primary reason for the “ho-hum” attitude towards these bowl games. Granted, many people will still watch even if they are not fans of the teams. After all, the first week of January signals the end of college football play for nearly nine months! But the excitement of college football sensory overload with a banging headache just is not there anymore. Gone are the days of three bowl games going on at the same time for much of the day; then two or three more competing at night. Before, you knew that there would be no more college football after 1 January. There will still be college football tomorrow…and the next day…and on Monday.
And all of this is without mentioning the pathetic pattern of [insert corporate sponsor here] Bowl! Even the Rose Bowl has a sponsor (although at least it is the Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi rather than the Citi Rose Bowl). Whatever happened to the Citrus Bowl; the Peach Bowl!? AHHH!!! Forget it! I’m going to watch the Twilight Zone marathon!
EDITOR’S NOTE: I just noticed that another blogger made a similar argument when discussing how to construct a “playoff” with the bowl set-up. My thoughts were my own, but I will provide a link to that blogger’s post because it is an interesting overall argument [Click Me!].