Yesterday I had one of my all too often trips to Stanford to attend to the pain pump I (still) have implanted in my abdomen. When I got home, I had to pick up a baby gift (see CuteBabyNameGifts.com) from one of our artists, then received a call from my wife reminding me that we were getting new carpet in each of the downstairs bedrooms and closets - on Wednesday - and needed to move all but the big pieces of furniture out of the room into the garage. If our family had nickname, it would most certainly be “The Clutterers.”
It doesn’t look like much - until you try to move it all out. I worked until 2:00 am and got our bedroom done. Nearly done. I then realized I hadn’t blogged so what follows is a reprint from five years ago nearly to the day. The proposed “Final Four” has passed, i.e. the top four teams play 1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3 with the winners competing for the national championship.
If you think there’s complaining over who ought to be the 68th team selected in March Madness, how much complaining do you think there will be when the committee - or computer - picks #4. The bitching won’t be limited to just #5, either. I can’t wait to see that committee chair being interviewed after the announcement of the four schools is made.
More than half of the Division I-A or the “non-Football Championship Subdivision” (it was lengthened to make understanding the differences in levels of college football more difficult for the people who would like to know about it - call it “user unfriendly”) participate in end-of-the-year bowl games. This topic has been battered around so much, if it goes on any longer, whichever proponent scores will be forced to go for two.
Those opposed say the games are meaningless, that only the top tier bowls matter, that the others merely take up television time, don’t make any money and give an extra game to a mediocre team from a good conference or a fairly good team from a mediocre conference.
Those are some of the reasons to have these “lesser” bowls. The people who claim the games are meaningless and just take up TV time are upset because they are forced to either watch them or actually do something - like take the family somewhere, clean the garage or engage in an actual conversation with another human (probably about who’s going to win one of the top tier bowls).
Is it really necessary for a game to make money in order for it to be played? If it did, you’d end up wiping out most of intercollegiate sports altogether - from football and basketball (at the majority of schools) to badminton, equestrian, water polo and all but .00001% (a generous estimate) of the others. Not to mention youth sports. I haven’t checked the bottom line figures on kindergarten soccer, but I don’t think too many clubs are finishing the year in the black, even if they’re cutting back on end-of-the-game treats.
Rewarding teams with an extra game, be they bottom half teams from BCS conferences or upper half teams from non-BCS conferences, doesn’t have nearly as much to do with the game itself (although the participants usually get some sweet swag) as it does with the extra practice time. I’ll bet if you polled the coaches (especially if their answers could remain anonymous), on what the greatest reward they get from a bowl game is, extra practice time would even beat out the “bowl bonus clause” in their contracts (that is, if they’re truly serious about succeeding in coaching and not some old geezer at the tail end of a long career who’s just trying to accumulate as much as he can before he inevitably gets canned and/or goes into retirement).
The other reason for having so many bowl games is that nearly half of the D-I football teams in the country end their season on a winning note. This helps coach and player morale, fan excitement (something to give hope toward that great year they’ve been waiting for), donations (it’s easier to ask for money after a win than the opposite), recruiting (”Son, did you see us in that last game? We finally put it together and with you joining us as that one piece of the puzzle we’re missing, …”). It’s just more fun.
Having been in the basketball part of the NCAA for 30 years, I can’t begin to tell you how difficult winning the last game can be. Think about it. Unless you win it all, or win the NIT (in which the winner usually is disappointed to be playing), or have a fluke occur, i.e. winning the final Ivy League game, but not the league itself (since they’re the only conference not to have a post-season tournament to determine their NCAA representative) or win the last game but not finish high enough in your league to qualify for the conference tournament or be an independent and win your last contest (the last time an independent was selected for the NCAA Tourney, Bill Gates was in pull-ups).
All in all, the bowl system is more helpful than harmful. Besides, what would be better, a playoff?” Hey, that won’t happen before … Bill Gates is in pull-ups. It seems those at the top are bound and determined not to let that happen (see 12/3/07 blog). Why? Read into Abraham Lincoln’s quote what you wish:
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”