On Saturday, I will likely find myself in a familiar place when college football is being played.
As I sit on my couch and watch meaningless exhibition games in strange locales with unfamiliar title sponsors, it won’t be because I support the system that allows these trifling tilts to proliferate. In fact, I loathe a system that rewards mediocrity and distributes millions of college and university dollars into the pockets of corporate partners. It’s the college football business at its worst.
Yet, by the very nature of my activity, I am figuratively nodding at every notion I despise about college football’s postseason. That’s where this gets tricky.
Before I go any further, let me be perfectly clear: I love bowl season. I also hate bowl season. As weird as that sounds, yes, it’s possible to do both.
Perhaps a better way to summarize it is this: I love what I see, but I can’t stand the foundation it rests upon.
Just like a voter choosing a candidate for who he or she actually is while opposing the political party he or she chooses to identify with, I joyfully support the individual while despising the collective. It’s how I can still watch with pleasure the next game on the docket without caring why the game was formed in the first place. Plain and simple, it’s just a game.
We look for people to blame for why college football has avoided a playoff system—and more recently, a more expansive one. For such blame, the best place to look is often in the mirror.
I am the catalyst for my own frustration. If not for my eyes—along with millions of others—consuming advertisements and driving up ratings, the system could change. If there’s no profit, there’s no reason to have a bad structure in place. However, if that bad structure is making money, then there’s no reason to make another one.
That’s the frustrating part. The bigwigs running the show during bowl season know we love football. They know fans enjoy sitting down and watching game after game, especially when there are only a handful of “football days” left on the schedule. They take full advantage of that mindset year after year after year.
The simple solution to the lunacy of a bowl system that gives teams that lose half the time an all-expenses-paid trip and a fistful of gifts paid for by corporate sponsors would be to ignore it altogether. Seriously, there’s good basketball going on right now. Christmas movies are all over the television. Netflix and Hulu are wonderful inventions for times such as this.
Yet, there we will sit—all of us. We will do as we’re told and eat it up. As a football analyst, it does provide a chance to see intriguing matchups we might never get to experience otherwise.
But as we gripe and groan, mumble and moan, chances are the reason for the angst is right in front of our faces.
Even though the remote is in arms reach, we don’t do a thing about it. We can’t. We love football too much.