Brad Rock: BYU should avoid a Christmas Day bowl game

Published: Thursday, May 5 2011 11:34 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — I recently read a Bay Area newspaper blog that said BYU is in the mix for a postseason game called the Christmas Bowl. My first reaction: Oh, goody. Another bowl.

America needs that like it needs another reality show.

Thirty-five bowl games during the holidays is enough. I can't even watch "Man vs. Food" 35 times in three weeks, much less things like the BBVA Compass Bowl or the New Mexico Bowl. (Oh, wait. I did watch last year's New Mexico Bowl, but only because BYU was in it.)

Seventy bowl berths means a lot of undeserving teams. When 58 percent of all Division I programs get an invitation, it starts looking like youth soccer — everyone gets a participation trophy.

The Christmas Bowl is supposed to be all about charity, but how about having a telethon instead, or even a big car wash? I don't want BYU hooked up with any bowl that might end up playing on Christmas Day. (If the game falls on Sunday, it would reportedly be played Monday to avoid conflicting with the NFL or BYU.)

No matter what day of the week, how many Cougar fans really want to spend Christmas Day at a football game? I thought Christmas was supposed to be about quiet reflection, not tailgating. BYU did play in the 1992 Aloha Bowl on Dec. 25, drawing 43,000 fans, though that was fewer than the Cougars drew at any of their Holiday Bowl or Copper Bowl appearances.

Utah attracted 31,000 to 37,000-seat Sam Boyd Stadium when it played USC in the Las Vegas Bowl on Christmas. That was considered decent but not great. Fair enough. It's not like it was a religious experience for Ute fans. On the other hand, it could be for BYU: Read St. Luke Chapter 2 in the morning and catch the Cougs in the afternoon.

Still, I have a suggestion for the NFL and bowl people: How about providing one day during the holidays with no football?

The concept of a Christmas Bowl surfaced last year, and again last week via a blog by San Jose Mercury News writer Jon Wilner, who noted BYU is free to negotiate for bowl appearances after 2013. But there are already too many bowls. When BYU went to the 1974 Fiesta Bowl, there were only 11 bowl games, yet there were 130 teams. Nowadays, when 70 of 120 teams qualify, it all becomes white noise.

Does anyone really recall who won last year's Little Caesars Bowl, or even where the game was played? I get the Liberty and Independence bowls mixed up, and I've even been to the Liberty Bowl three times. It's a good thing the Freedom and All-American bowls are gone; I'd never figure out which patriotic bowl I was watching.

I don't care how strongly a team finishes, or how tough it's competition, a 5-7 season shouldn't include a bowl invitation. But it's getting dangerously close to that.

Most bowl games are money-losing propositions for the schools involved. Some teams may soon do what Notre Dame did in 2009, when it refused any bowl invitation. If that happens, there won't be enough .500-plus teams to fill all the bowls.

Now someone wants to create another game, on Christmas no less.

Wilner said BYU is also considering its own bowl, a "Cougar Classic." So I guess if you don't want to worry about receiving a bowl invitation, you can invent your own.

Actually, that's what junior colleges do.

I'm sure BYU can get bowl invitations without either playing on Christmas or creating its own game. Bowls are a reward for a fine season, except in the cases where they aren't. Meanwhile, visiting Detroit, Shreveport or Boise in winter isn't much of a reward, either.

In this latest plan for BYU bowl inclusion, I say skip the Christmas Day football and pass the turkey.

email: rock@desnews.com

twitter: therockmonster

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