There's a somewhat off topic story I've been wanting to get to all week and today seems to be just the day. Buried behind the extensive NFL Draft coverage of the past weekend there was a small story relating to college football and how we define the success of our programs. The story,the NCAA appoving 35 bowl games over the next four years setting up 70 of the NCAA Division 1's 120 programs for "postseason" play.
A Bowl Game, that's the goal. When the team takes to the field in September we look ahead on the schedule, check for wins and losses and instead of bracketology, we have bowl projections. How much does it cheapen the measure of success when nearly 60% of the field is considered successful?
In basketball expansion is a hot topic, in football it's slow, gradual and almost unnoticable. We've talked college basketball expansion and from a Kansas perspective it's easy to say we don't need 96 teams because Kansas is ALWAYS part of the 64. In football, a sport where every bit of success is celebrated, how do we feel about the continued expansion of postseason football?
Celebrating mediocrity or rewarding success, that's the fine line the NCAA walks with continued expansion in football. The Big 12 will have 8 bowl tie ins with the new format and the opportunity to place even more should the conference sucessfully beat up on September opponents and have enough parody from October through November to throw a few more teams in the six win mix. Is that too many? It's the equivelent of Colorado or Iowa State in the tourney for basketball. The biggest difference of course being that in football a team in that position has ZERO chance of disrupting the path to a championship for one of the true contenders.
As a Kansas fan, success is defined for me by what is best for the Kansas program. That being the case, the more the merrier. Sure if I'm Texas my opinion differs. I've heard the argument that teams don't deserve to play in a bowl if they can't win 8 games, or it's embarassing to have a team with a 500 record playing in December, but what's the harm? It's not as if Iowa State vs. Minnesota at the Insight Bowl had any impact on the larger college football landscape this past year, but it did provide an opportunity to reward the players, give the fans an event to celebrate being a fan and probably most importantly it gives both teams an extra month of practice to develop, practice and work toward further success.
It's definitely a balance, and certainly bowls teeter on being insignifigant. What they don't do however is diminish the value and importance of the regular season in any way and they don't affect the larger debate of how to crown a champion. All they are is another event in a sports season that's all too short to begin with.