Here’s a fact: most bowl games aren’t interesting. They’re space-fillers on the clock, and it doesn’t really matter if you watch them or not.
This year, bowl TV ratings and attendance sagged, and so we at ROT have been thinking: how to we make bowl games more interesting?
Now for another fact: March Madness is interesting. Every matchup has drama baked in.
So in order to fix lagging bowl interest, why not make bowl games look more like March Madness? Right now, there’s too little intrigue going into the games. Many of the games are flat-out boring and the bowls are usually stuck with the same teams in the same location. Remember when the Birmingham Bowl had Pitt three years in a row? Yikes. Bad for fans, bad for the bowl, bad for TV.
So how to introduce a little Madness into college football? Let’s take a look at how we could make this happen.
Step one: The New Year’s Six remain the same. If you’re good enough, you deserve to be in the pool for New Year’s six set of bowls, plus, I think those should be left the same in order to make a future 8-team playoff more easy to accomplish.
But beyond that, we need more chaos.
So here’s step two:
Every other bowl game after the New Year’s Six is thrown into a pool lottery, like the NBA Draft lottery. Then each bowl game is randomly selected, and each bowl is assigned a “Draft Position”.
Step three: After that, the bowl gets to draft the two teams they want to square off against one another.
Now, there’s no obligation to pick teams with similar records or from specific conferences, so if you want to pick Texas and Texas A&M with the first pick, go for it. If you’d like to see a rematch of a great game from earlier in the year, give it a shot. Or if there are two teams that are close by, pick those two. Either way, the bowl gets to decide what it finds to be the best and most interesting matchup for them, and nobody knows beforehand what their fate is.
It’d be like Selection Sunday for March Madness, but with a chance to go to either the Bahamas or Shreveport. Imagine the drama!
Or what if you used your picks to try and play out some bad blood? Like if a coach had left one school to go to another, there’d be an instant story line. Can you imagine Pitt and Arizona State playing one another right after Todd Graham had left the Panthers after just one year? It’d have been great drama! (Instead, Pitt played in Birmingham again. See, my whole logic comes full circle now.)
Another way to do it: maybe a bowl picks somebody and then that school chooses who they want to play against. Do you pick a good game for your fans, or someone you think you can beat? It’d be added motivation for an underdog if they were picked because School #1 thought it’d be an easy victory. There are so many interesting options here.
March Madness is the one thing everyone in sports can agree is great—so repackaging it for college football is the only logical way to make bowls interesting.