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How to Fix Bowl Season: Less Is More

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Why fewer bowls make better football

College Football Playoff National Championship Presented By AT&T - Alabama v Clemson Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

When you think of college football, what comes to mind? While your mind is wandering, consider what makes college football great. Did bowl season come to mind? Was it one bowl in particular? Perhaps the Rose Bowl? Or did you think of the playoffs that crown a national champion? No matter what came to mind, you almost certainly weren’t thinking of The Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.

The bowl season USED to be momentous and it USED to be great, but like many things in today’s society, everybody gets a small portion rather than only a few who really deserve it. This year there were 78 teams partaking in 40 different bowl games. I love college football, but there were so many lousy bowl games. And I love Stanford more than I can even explain, but the Stanford bowl game was dreadful.

I know the economics; money is certainly the reason for the (bowl) season. We’ll probably add more Toilet Paper Bowls before we start removing bowls. But adding more bowls only adds to the boredom of bowl season.

Let’s go back in time for a moment. In 1990, there were 107 teams in Division 1 football. There were only 19 bowl games. You had to be one of the best 38 teams in college football to play in a bowl game. Now let’s go back to 1980. Back then, there were only 15 bowl games. In 1970, only 11 bowl games.

Financially, extending the college football season is an excellent idea, but when it comes to entertainment value, it sucks. Think about how different the Sun Bowl feels now compared to how it felt decades ago. When there were only 18 bowl games in 1996, we were ecstatic to see Stanford in the “lowly” Sun Bowl.

But it’s not just enough to reduce the total number of bowl games; we could also borrow a page from college basketball and have a “March Madness”-style playoff. Now I know what you might be thinking: “A conference USA team won’t beat an SEC team!” Perhaps not, but that doesn’t stop Duke from playing teams from lesser conferences in March Madness.

To create a college football December Madness, we start with each team playing 10 regular season games. After those 10 games, a 64-team bracket is determined.

The first round of the playoffs is a home game for the higher seed. The second round can be on a neutral field in the presently-lesser bowl games. Now instead of a Cheez-It Bowl that nobody cares about featuring TCU and Cal, you get Alabama vs. Miami!

For the third round, we need only eight bowl games: Rose, Fiesta, Orange, Sugar, Peach, Citrus, Cotton, and perhaps the new Vegas stadium would serve as our final venue. If you used CBS Sports rankings, you might have some angry fan bases who wouldn’t be guaranteed a postseason. But who cares? The goal isn’t to let every team have a postseason; the goal is to make the postseason fun for fans!

Not only that, but December Madness is great for Stanford fans! Last season, Stanford would have been an 8-seed hosting a game against one of the following four: Missouri, NC State, Troy, or Michigan State. Win that game and Stanford is playing against one of the four playoff teams in the next round! You cannot tell me that wouldn’t have been more entertaining than the Sun Bowl’s low-incentive matchup against Pittsburgh.

Simply put, fewer bowls add more value. And turning bowl season into December Madness brings back momentousness and excitement to the college football postseason.