Very few people have ever said that there are not enough college football games. Yet if the smaller, minor conferences have their way, then more college bowl games we'll be getting. And these bowl games won't just be in any minor location like Phoenix or New Orleans, they'll be in Dubai and Dublin and Nassau. And Little Rock.
This plan, according to ESPN, is born out of necessity. A necessity arising from the increasing difficulty of the minor conferences (American Athletic Confernce, Conference USA, Sun Belt, Mid-American and Mountain West), nicknamed the Group of Five, in finding bowl slots for their teams. And that difficulty is arising because the major conferences are refusing to play the minors in bowl games. Thus, a brand-new group of bowl games are being contemplated.
The American Athletic Conference, formerly known as the Big East, is one of the minor conferences, and it has admitted to discussions regarding a new bowl game to be played at Marlins Park in Miami. And Ken Hoffman, the executive who runs the Little Caesars Bowl, has stated that he's been contacted by officials with these minor conferences in regards to starting a bowl game in Dubai, Dublin and Toronto of Nassau.
It's understandable that the minor conferences want to play in bowl games. But is a new set of bowl games really necessary? There were slots for 70 bowl teams last season and there were only 72 bowl-eligible teams -- two of those 72, UCLA and Georgia Tech, had losing records and needed a waiver from the NCAA to play. So even if the major conferences want to shut the minors out, is that even possible when there aren't enough teams? And if more bowl games are created, then will the only teams being shut out from bowls be those that fail to win a single game during the season?
Some of the standard locations are under consideration for games. There'd be another bowl game in Miami, and another in Orlando, and another in Los Angeles. There are also supposedly discussions for games in Boca Raton, Florida; Montgomery, Alabama; and Little Rock, Arkansas. And of course, the overseas games.
It's hard to imagine there being much interest in these games. Most of the bowl games played every season seem to be played in front of massive numbers of empty seats. And numerous games feature teams with 6-6 records playing other teams with 6-6 records, e.g., Rice and Air Force in last December's Armed Forces Bowl up in Fort Worth. So if the games that currently exist feature lousy matchups in empty stadiums, then why should a game between the sixth-place team in the MAAC and the sixth-placed team from the Sun Belt be played in Little Rock?
And would a bowl game in Dubai be a reward or a punishment for a team and for the fans? It's not a cheap trip, and it has to be expensive for the school to send the team and the staff. Most bowl games have ticket quotas that must be satisfied by the individual teams, and the school has to pay for tickets from its allotment that aren't sold. And lots of schools have problems with selling their allotment of tickets for bowl games played in the States -- this is a real problem for some of the teams that wind up playing in Hawaii -- so what's going to happen if a game's played in the Middle East?
And what would be the interest of the locals in Dubai or Dublin in a game featuring UCF versus UTEP? Is below zero a proper answer? There might be curiosity were a major team to make the trip out for a bowl game, something like Notre Dame or USC or Alabama, but it's hard to imagine any international interest when UH and Rice battle each other for the Dubai Bowl trophy.
There's just no need for more college bowl games. There are too many games and too few teams to play in the games. The product's already watered down, and it just seems worthless to pay money to watch minor-conference mediocre teams play other minor-conference teams in newly created games that are born not out of fan demand but out of an artificial need for barely bowl-eligible football teams to play in bowl games.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.