We're sitting in the middle of a plethora of bowls that might include teams with 6-6 records all the way to Auburn v Oregon and a battle of undefeated teams. Obviously the Ducks and the Tigers have something big time to play for, but all the rest are glorified exhibitions in a sense.
Still the opportunity to play football into late December or early January is viewed as a badge of honor by a team and a fanbase. A bowl is a sign that your team has enjoyed some level of success worthy of a trip to what everyone hopes is an enjoyable destination with one last day to reflect, enjoy the company of fellow fans and watch your team take the field.
But what does the bowl game mean? Specifically do you care about wins or losses? One of the highlights of Mark Mangino's tenure was the general competitiveness of his teams in the instances where they played in a bowl game. It was still a business trip and fans taking in the Fort Worth, Orange and Insight Bowl wins all got the chance to celebrate one last victory into the night. Is that important?
Last night Gary Pinkel and the Tigers lost their second consecutive bowl game in which they were the heavy favorites. West Virginia looked flat against NC State. Oklahoma and Bob Stoops have struggled over the years to show well in big games and BCS games where little is on the line.
Does it matter? The first step as Kansas fans would be having our team in a bowl, but once they are there I'd just assume win. If you're going to play the game and claim it as a reward for the season that's fine, but shouldn't the team and the fanbase still care about the result in the same way they care about the nonconference cupcake in September?
It's a tough call, fans that lose will say it doesn't matter. In reality it doesn't, but if you're a Missouri fan last night and your team has a chance to beat a severely depleted and mediocre team from the conference that you wanted so badly to be a part of, don't you care?
My goal isn't to knock Missouri, they just happen to be a ready made example after last night. Fact is it seems that every year teams fail to show up in bowl games. So what does it mean to you?