Columns & Blogs

Are there too many college football bowl games? No way

South Florida wide receiver Rodney Adams (87) runs on his way to scoring a touchdown as Western Kentucky linebacker Nick Holt misses a tackle during the Miami Beach Bowl game on Monday.
South Florida wide receiver Rodney Adams (87) runs on his way to scoring a touchdown as Western Kentucky linebacker Nick Holt misses a tackle during the Miami Beach Bowl game on Monday. The Associated Press

I watched Western Kentucky and South Florida play a football game in a baseball stadium.

On a Monday at 2:30 p.m.

And it was glorious.

Yes, the classic Miami Beach Bowl, one of 40 college football bowl games on the slate this year.

Some would say 40 is too high. Some college football purists want to stick to the basics — just give them the Rose, Cotton, Orange, Sugar and Fiesta Bowls.

The rest of the games, to many, are unnecessary, unneeded and nonessential.

To them, they’re boring.

It’s filler.

Why watch a pair of 6-6 teams play a game that means nothing in the grand scheme things?

Well, for one, it’s still football.

On Monday afternoon, I saw the Hilltoppers win a 45-35 shootout filled with 768 passing yards, 441 rushing yards, and a 4th-and-goal situation from the 38-yard line.

That is bowl season, to a tee.

What would I have watched otherwise? A third rerun of SportsCenter? Or even worse, First Take?

Give me a bowl sponsored by Miami Beach any day of the week.

Or for that matter, give me the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl or the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl.

You want to pit Akron and Utah State against each other on a blue field in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl with a potato mascot dancing on the sidelines? I’ll dabble.

A lot of college football followers scoff at the names of these bowls. Some, rightfully so — looking at you, Camping World Independence Bowl.

A few purists get annoyed by bowl sponsors throwing money around and supporting a “mediocre” game to get the company’s name out there.

Who cares?

It’s certainly good business. (Would I know that Marmot is an outdoors clothing company without the Boca Raton Bowl? Absolutely not.)

Plus, it’s good for anyone who likes to kick back and watch some ball.

Thanks to Raycom Media, we saw Appalachian State erase a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Ohio in the Camellia Bowl.

Hat tip to GoDaddy for giving Georgia Southern the chance to hang 452 rushing yards and 58 points on Bowling Green.

And cheers, AutoNation, for supporting the Cure Bowl, donating a $1 million check to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and allowing San Jose State and Georgia State the opportunity to extend their seasons.

And yes, that’s San Jose State, a team that ended its regular season at 5-7. The Spartans were one of three squads that, based on Academic Progress Rating, filled bowl slots despite falling short of the required 6-6 mark.

Their inclusion has been yet another rallying cry for those against the enormity of bowl season.

But what is the actual difference between a 5-7 and 6-6 team?

Minnesota, at 5-7, will play Central Michigan in the Quick Lane Bowl on Monday night. Six of the Gophers’ seven losses came against TCU, Ohio State, Iowa, Michigan, Northwestern and Wisconsin, who have a combined record of 61-12.

That’s more impressive than your run of the mill 6-6 squad.

It shouldn’t matter that there are a few 5-7 teams in the mix, and it really shouldn’t matter that half of the bowls feature at least one team with a 7-5 record or worse.

For those who’d rather see football than talking heads, bowl season is perfect the way it is.

For those vehemently against games sponsored by AutoZone, R+L Carriers and Motel 6, it’s easy: Don’t watch.

Go ahead, and take a nap instead.

But when you wake up on your couch, football will be on your TV.

And that’s magnificent.

John McGonigal: 814-231-4630, @jmcgonigal9