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Sunday Musings: How to Save Non-Playoff Bowl Games, Charity Sports, & Charity Fundraiser

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl - North Carolina State v Kentucky Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

I’d like to start out this week wishing everyone a happy Father’s Day. Spending time pouring into your kids is so vital and it is good that we have a day dedicated to celebrating it. To all our readers out there who are dads, happy Fathers Day!

Now, on to the topic everyone is focused on in college football — playoff expansion. I’ve already shared my thoughts as did Alex Craft and Calvin Craft. Now, I’d like to look at what could be done to make the rest of bowl season worthwhile if there is a big four-round playoff system.

The proposed 12-team playoff would have four games in the first round (played on campuses), four games in the second round, and two semi-finals games, before the National Championship. It sounds like the powers that be are leaning towards making the six major bowls (Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, Rose, Cotton, and Peach) playoff bowls every year with four being second round games and two being semi-final games. They would simply rotate which bowls are second round games and which are the semi-finals.

Below are some of the notable bowls that would (presumably) remain as non-playoff bowls:

  1. Vrbo Citrus Bowl (Orlando)
  2. SDCCU Holiday Bowl (San Diego)
  3. TaxSlayer Gator Bowl (Jacksonville)
  4. Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl (El Paso)
  5. Duke’s Mayo Bowl (Charlotte)
  6. TransPerfect Music City Bowl (Nashville)
  7. Outback Bowl (Tampa)
  8. New Era Pinstripe Bowl (New York City)

There could be as many as 25 other bowls beyond these, but they were already rendered meaningless and often hard to watch by the myopic focus on the four team playoff. With an expanded playoff, players on teams that don’t earn a berth will be even more likely to opt-out than what we’ve seen in recent years. Does that spell the end of bowl season? Yes! Non-playoff bowls will simply be post-season exhibitions. Bowl bids will be accepted only to get the extra practices the NCAA allows with them. ESPN will surely still be willing to air them, but they’ll be gutted of their best players and any sense of importance.

One interesting solution may be to have these bowls at the beginning of the season. They would be used as a reward for returning players for the prior season’s accomplishments. Instead of “business trips,” which is what playoff bowls have become, they could be true rewards where players enjoy the sights and sounds of the host cities. Fans, would have all offseason to plan out a vacation rather than rushing to cobble together a plan after bowl invitations are announced. Most importantly though, the games would be meaningful and have an impact on the playoff. There are surely dozens of logistical barriers, but the idea is certainly intriguing!

In other news, Clemson added Women’s lacrosse and Women’s gymnastics to the growing list of sponsored sports. After re-instating Men’s track & field, Title IX forced them to add more scholarship sports slots for women. As much as college football has become a business, it always catches my attention how much other collegiate sports are more like charities, operating largely for the purpose of providing scholarships to athletes and enriching their college experience and lives. Football players get fame, fortune (sometimes), and amazing accommodations, but also contribute so much to the bottom line of the athletic department that they fund these great opportunities for those who play sports that generate little to no fan interest. That’s not to make a value judgement on any of this, but it sure is a weird system.

June is nearing its end, which means we’re entering the worst two months of the year in terms of sports content. Right now, fortunately, we have the NHL semi-final games. The Montreal Canadiens are making a Cinderella-like run and are up 2-1 on the much more accomplished Las Vegas Knights. They have their veteran goalie Carey Price to thank for their game three win on Friday night. What a save this was! Tampa vs. New York (Islanders) is a fun series as well.

Finally, I will plug my birthday fundraiser for Charity Water. This is an amazing organization that brings clean drinking water to villages in third-world countries. The impact it makes on the lives of the people there is staggering.