These are heady, historic times. Here we are in the midst of the first ever COLLEGE FOOTBALL (4 TEAM) PLAYOFF. In case you haven’t had the details spelled out for you yet: New Year’s Day featured Oregon winning the Rose Bowl, and Ohio State winning the Sugar Bowl. But now get a load of this: Those two winners will soon play each other in a national championship game – like a bowl on top of a bowl!!!
This newest COLLEGE FOOTBALL (4 TEAM) PLAYOFF has already proven itself a success, partially because the two teams advancing are precisely the two teams the old two-team, BCS playoff system would have excluded. (And yes, the BCS was technically a playoff system, even though it only included two teams.) And to top things off, the 4 teams chosen by the COLLEGE FOOTBALL (4 TEAM) PLAYOFF excluded two very deserving teams in TCU and Baylor, and then Baylor went and lost their bowl game to Michigan State, making it clear that an 8 team playoff system is on the way, as soon as the various contractual obligations allow, of course.
Perhaps because of all the commotion about this history-making playoff season, I haven’t heard a single word on the college football topic folks love to rail on at this time of year: the proliferation of sponsor-titled, “meaningless” bowl games. And for this I am glad, because the more bowl games the merrier, and I’d watch them all if I didn’t feel a strange, foreign obligation to be a productive member of society.
My favorite bowl memory of this season is a two way tie: Between Jameis Winston’s version of the butt fumble (has anyone coined a clever name for this wonderful event, yet?), and the exciting, unexpected, history making finish to the POPEYE’S BAHAMAS BOWL. This bowl game was history making in the exact same artificial way that the new COLLEGE FOOTBALL (4 TEAM) PLAYOFF is history making, it’s the first year of its existence. And I will remember exactly where I was that Christmas Eve, 2014: at my in-laws, simply hoping for a blowout to turn into something interesting. I convinced my wife’s relatives to join me in rooting for the Chippewas of Central Michigan, even though they were starting the fourth quarter down by 29 to Western Kentucky. With each CMU touchdown, our bandwagon grew (this family I’ve married into likes to humor me, bless them). Eventually, “our” Chippewas were down by 7, with the ball on their own 20, and one measly second on the clock. And when this happened, the room erupted in such a way that the neighbors became concerned:
We were all Chippewas that day, at least until they attempted an idiotic corner fade on the two point conversion, after which we all agreed their coach should be canned for costing us a few more moments of unearned satisfaction.
We as fans don’t decide which football games are meaningless, the players do. It’s why a week 17 NFL game between two eliminated teams can be painful to watch, and a corporate-named bowl game between two unheralded universities named for a particularly uninteresting geographic region of their respective states can be the highlight of Christmas Eve. So do what you want to the COLLEGE FOOTBALL (8 TEAM?) PLAYOFF, but leave us these “meaningless” bowl games. In fact, schedule more of them. I enjoy them.