As is usually the case the day after the bowl matchups are announced, outrage abounds on this first Monday of December. Georgia shouldn’t have fallen out of a BCS bowl. Florida shouldn’t have jumped into a BCS bowl. LSU shouldn’t have fallen to the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Vanderbilt should be allowed to leave the state of Tennessee for a bowl game.
On and on and on.
But this is what the bowl system is and what it will always be, folks. Now, maybe if there were a bowl selection draft based on bowl payouts we’d have better, fairer matchups. But currently, it’s just the same ol’ mess every year. The BCS bowls are locked into take certain small conference teams — like Northern Illinois to the Orange Bowl! — if they finish above a certain point in the national rankings. (This was done to fend off lawyers and politicians representing small-conference teams.)
Then you have all of the conference tie-ins that come into play. The leagues realized long ago that the safest way to insure a nice chunk of Bowl-Revenue Pie each year was to cut deals with the games well in advance. So before the season starts, we know where the SEC’s, Big Ten’s, Big XII’s, etc, etc, teams are heading. It’s just a matter of who falls into which slot.
After you cut through all of that automatic stuff, you then get down to the nitty gritty. Cities began hosting bowls in order to bring tourists to their hotels and restaurants in the winter. Period. That’s why bowl games came into being and that’s why the number of games has grown to the point that we barely have enough bowl-eligible teams each year. (This year, 6-7 Georgia Tech will be heading to the Sun Bowl to face Southern Cal after getting a special waiver from the NCAA allowing it to go bowling with a losing record.)
With the explosion in television coverage, the committees now consider tourism for one week versus for the entire year when picking their combatants. A committee can choose to bring in two schools who’ll bring fans to their city for a few days in December or January… or two schools who’ll get bigger TV ratings which will provide said city an opportunity to run spot after spot promoting itself as a tourism destination to millions of folks who might visit in February or June or October.
There’s no logic. There’s no disrespect. There’s only business. And the business of the bowl system makes for some real ho-hum affairs. Below is our take on the good and bad of each SEC bowl matchup for 2012-13:
BCS Championship Game — #2 Alabama vs #1 Notre Dame in Miami, FL
The Good: There could not be a better marquee pairing for college football’s national title game. Arguably the two most-storied programs in the sport’s history battling it out for a national crown? Are you kidding? Keep an eye on the television ratings records for cable programs (it’ll air on ESPN) when this one kicks off after a full month of hype. The SEC will be going for its seventh BCS title in a row. Nick Saban will be going for his second in a row, his third in four years, and his fourth overall in the last 10 seasons (two of which he spent in the NFL).
The Bad: If you’re an SEC fan, the fact that Notre Dame isn’t the joke everyone makes them out to be. Unlike the offense-first teams that SEC defenses have shut down in previous BCS title games, the Irish are an SEC-style club. They’re led by their defense, they finished undefeated, ten of the 12 teams they beat finished bowl eligible and they won at Oklahoma and at Southern Cal (two traditional powers). The Tide opened as 9.5-point favorites in Las Vegas, but that’s just a measure of how the casinos believe fans will place their bets. Give Nick Saban a month to prepare and we’ll put our money on Bama every time, but we still don’t think this is going to be as big a laugher as most seem to believe.
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