12.30.2006

Big 10 Proving Fearsome in Early Bowl Games

Granted I haven't seen any of these games, but the Big 10 has actually proven anything but fearsome in bowl games so far this season, posting an abysmal 0-3 record. I don't know if you can blame it on the match-ups or what, but I kind of doubt it. One could be led to believe that middling teams in supposedly major "power" conferences like the Big 10 just... well... suck. Or maybe it's just the Big 10 that sucks and is annually overrated. If you want to hop over to the other major college sport, you could point to the fact that the Big 10 annually gets 6 or 7 teams into the NCAA tourney, only to have their middling teams consistently disappoint (and that's not even to mention the Big 10 getting annually embarrassed by the ACC-Big 10 "challenge" that hasn't been challenging in the least for the ACC).

I'd probably agree with you on all those counts. But looking at college football by itself, I'd argue that nothing -- nothing -- can be discerned from bowl game performances because in the end, you guessed it, there is no playoff system. I'm not arguing that the players don't care about playing in a bowl game four weeks after their last regular season game, but at some level every single one of those guys must realize that their bowl game is essentially meaningless. Yeah, they're playing for pride, personal and for their school. And no, I don't want to take anything away from Rutgers who won their first bowl game in school history (and probably deserved a tougher opponent). Yeah, Purdue was embarrassed by Maryland, but is anyone going to give a shit next season? Why are college teams judged on a game played a month after their normal season is done? If that affects recruiting, then that's just idiotic. One game in December or January against a nearly random opponent does not a program make.

If I was a player, I'd just as soon be with my family and friends over the holidays rather than playing in the Champs Sports Bowl. Maybe that's just me, but this whole bowl system is so fucked up--from the way teams are selected from major conferences (perennially snubbing mid-major teams) to the lack of a playoff system--I find it hard to understand why any fan gives half a shit about a game other than the National Championship game, regardless of whether or not their team is playing in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

Iowa lost a close game tonight to Texas, Minnesota blew the biggest lead ever in a bowl game to lose to Texas Tech, and Purdue lost an utterly unremarkable game to Maryland. But all three of those schools made their money for a bowl appearance and everyone's happy. That's what it's all about, right?