All but one of the 28 games are glorified exhibitions
Posted: Wednesday December 7, 2005 11:50AM; Updated: Wednesday December 7, 2005 1:23PM
Brett Basanez and Northwestern are headed to the Sun Bowl ... but how much does it matter?
Quick, name the winner -- or loser, for that matter -- of last season's Sun Bowl.
Time's up. If you remembered off the top of your head that Arizona State beat Purdue, 27-23, chances are you're either an alumnus of one of the schools, a resident of El Paso, Texas, where the game was played, or in desperate need of a life.
This isn't a knock on the Sun Bowl specifically, it's a knock against the bowl system in general, which, on the list of the most unnecessary things in sports, ranks right up there with the seventh-inning stretch, sideline reporters and Terrell Owens' game jersey. If every bowl game except the BCS title game were abolished tomorrow, most of us would miss them for about as long as it took to find the remote control and change the channel.
There will be 28 bowl games between Dec. 20 and Jan. 4, when USC and Texas play for the national title in the Rose Bowl. The other 27 contests, no matter how highly ranked the participants, are nothing more than glorified exhibition games. No championships are decided, no conferences are won, no great meaning is attached. In many cases, bowl games are anticlimactic letdowns, no matter who wins them. If Auburn beats Wisconsin in something called the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 2, for instance, do you really think the win will mean as much to the Tigers as their victory over arch-rival Alabama last month?
An even better reason to do away with meaningless bowl games arose this week, with a release of a study showing that many of the 56 bowl-bound teams are struggling to meet the NCAA's new academic standards. According to Richard Lapchick, a University of Central Florida professor who authors an annual report on the academic performance of NCAA athletes, only 33 of the 56 teams had at least 50 percent of their student-athletes on track to graduate.