We’ve already quoted this piece from The Tennessean once today, but Jeff Lockridge jammed so much good stuff into it we wanted to go back for seconds. Earlier today, we told you that Scott Ramsey — the Music City Bowl prez and top dog of the Nashville Sports Council — doesn’t believe Nashville has the stadium to make a play for college football’s new championship game (when the playoffs begin in 2014). But Ramsey also told the paper that he believes the new playoff system will kill off a few existing bowl games:
“If you’re not in those six (big bowls), you’re playing an exhibition game. It used to be the championship game and then some other BCS games which held some cache. The way this is going, it looks like a lot bigger BCS to me, which is oging to make more of those bowls below that less relevant.
They are going to argue that, ‘Oh, December 31st and January 1st is going to be a football celebration.’ If you’re a bowl, do you want to be playing on that day against a semifinal? I don’t know. … I think we’re on the cusp of bowls that can’t financially compete just dying out in the long term over this.”
Let’s be clear about one thing — bowls have always just been “exhibition” games. The Music City Bowl, for example, has never had the cachet of a BCS bowl. What it has had is a New Year’s Eve kickoff. That’s where Ramsey’s point comes home.
Would any bowl out there be wise to schedule a game on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day against a semifinal game? Sure, some network looking for any piece of the pie at all would still televise the thing, but would fans choose to stay home and watch a semifinal game rather than follow their own team on the road to a second-tier bowl? Obviously, not all bowls are played on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, but those that are typically bring in more tourist dollars to their towns than the non-New Year’s games. So is moving financially viable for those games?
The new playoff won’t make the bowls less meaningful. They’re meaningless exhibition designed to bring tourism to an area and to promote said area to a large television audience. Nothing more, nothing less.
The new playoff system will, however, force a few bowls to decide whether or not it’s worth going up against one of the big six bowls head-to-head.
Even more worrisome for bowl officials like Ramsey must be the potential success of the new “Champions” Bowl which — if it doesn’t merge in some way with an existing game — will be run by the SEC and Big 12 with the majority of profits staying right in house. If that experiment works, you can bet more leagues will start fielding their own bowls. And that will really change the college football bowl landscape.