Bowl ties are just negotiated “contracts” designed to line the pockets of conference commissioners, bowl representatives, TV executives, and basically everyone involved in the bowl process. However, they drastically reduce the enjoyment of the consumer both directly and indirectly paying to line those pockets. Unfortunately, we as fans are just conditioned to accept it, but it’ll work only as long as we let it. It’s time fans stood up for themselves.
We fans trick ourselves into furthering this crooked system. We tell ourselves that we can’t wait to return to [insert favorite bowl destination from our limited selection of bowl ties], or how we can’t wait to get picked by [insert third tier conference bowl tie that we’ve convinced ourselves is somehow good] because [insert fourth tier conference bowl tie] sucks! But what if you weren’t limited to the same six potential destinations in perpetuity?
What if, instead of hoping you get picked for the Camping World Bowl in Orlando so you don’t drop all the way to the oft-maligned Liberty Bowl in Memphis, you could hope for the Belk Bowl to snatch you up for the Twitter content alone? What if you could hope for the Camping World bowl in Orlando just because you need a change of scenery from your 14th Outback Bowl in Tampa in the last 20 years? We won’t get into comparing Orlando to Tampa too much because we all might be losers in that one.
There are 40 bowl games every year. Rather than conference pecking order, there should just be an order. After the CFP Semifinalists are chosen in their own crooked fashion (a topic for another day), the remaining 38 bowls should make their selections in order. (If you’re really into the corporatism of the process, let the remaining 38 bowls bid for their selection spot). Conference bowl ties be damned. Imagine a world where a bowl could choose whatever teams they wanted rather than the same bowls getting the same teams fed to them every year.
The games would be better and more competitive. The trophy cases at the schools would be much more diverse and colorful. The fans would get to travel to a wide variety of destinations rather than finding their ticket stub from their bowl loss two years ago in the couch cushions of the same Air BnB they rented… again. It would be like Selection Sunday on steroids. Imagine the TV ratings, and complete overproduction, surface level analysis and unintelligent takes we’d get in the six-hour special!
With myriad teams making games as easy as they can in the shrinking non-conference portions of their schedule, cross-conference matchups are becoming more the outlier than the norm. Abolishing conference ties to bowls allows for much better matchups than watching Michigan-Florida attempt to play offense for the umpteenth year in a row.
Oh, your precious TV ratings are continuing to decline? Try spicing it up. Oh no, now people aren’t attending bowl games as often? Perhaps they’re bored of your game experience, or disappointed because the drop from third to fourth tier game in their conference led them to, well? You.
Will abolishing game ties reduce the number of games simply because there won’t be a large demand for a Charlotte-Coastal Carolina bowl game? Who knows? Perhaps the lowest bowl rungs on the selection ladder turn into traveling/floating games that select teams by location and put the bowl game between them. Find a stadium in Columbia, South Carolina and play this game there. Not every bowl game has to have all of the glitz and glamor, and in 2019, I’m pretty sure the logistics could be worked out in a month even if it’s not ideal. A better product and solution would alleviate any of the new headaches caused.
Get on board before your commissioner gets caught sleeping and the Pinstripe Bowl ends up on your schedule.