No, fans love them

faceoff: are there too many college football bowl games?

December 30, 2008|By CHILDS WALKER

Come on, Candy, I know you were riveted to the magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl. And you must be practically slavering at the thought of the Papajohns.com Bowl. I mean really, who doesn't want to see Maryland fight it out in the Roady's Humanitarian Bowl?

The fact that I had to ask our boss the name of the game doesn't mean I don't care. Oh, shoot. I forgot to ask whom the Terps are playing.

So you got me. I can't begin to keep track of, much less care about, the 34 bowl games played from Dec. 20 to Jan. 8. But so what? These games aren't played for me. They exist to offer pleasant endings to the fans and players of winning programs across the country. Let's face it, a national title run was never in the cards for Buffalo, Northern Illinois or Rice. But the plethora of bowls gives all three programs a chance to end their seasons positively. That's not such a bad thing.

I have a good friend who went to Rutgers. For years, I made an annual pilgrimage to New Jersey to tailgate with him and watch one of the worst college football teams in the country. I mean, Scarlet Knights fans were happy when their guys managed to hold off Division I-AA opposition.

So in 2005, I went up to watch Rutgers host Navy. The Scarlet Knights stood at an uncharacteristic 5-2. As the seconds wound down on a 31-21 win over the Midshipmen, fans began to realize that Rutgers had clinched a .500 record and bowl eligibility. When the final horn sounded, we stormed the field.

In 100 years, no one will be talking about a 7-5 record and a loss to Arizona State in the Insight Bowl. But on that afternoon, the prospect of going to some dinky bowl meant so much to fans of a losing program that it led to a moment of collective bliss. I refuse to trash a system that uplifted spirits that way.

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