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Doug Robinson: Not exactly bowled over by this year's bowls

Published: Friday, Jan. 11 2013 1:35 p.m. MST

Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly watches his team in action with Nov. 17, 2012 in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)

JOE RAYMOND, AP

When you're upset and angry, you're supposed to sleep on it, the theory being you'll feel better in the morning.

I slept on the college bowl season five nights. I don't feel better.

In a word: What a dog.

Worst collection of bowl games ever.

It seemed fitting that Alabama routed Notre Dame in an unwatchable national championship game Monday night. No wonder Musberger was checking out the girls. What was he supposed to do, watch the game? I think the final score was 352 to 14, but I could be a little off.

If football's postseason were a horse, they would have shot it and put it out of its misery. Too many games. Too many bad games.

Remember when only good teams were invited to bowls? Now it's a casting call. Seventy teams played in bowls. Of the 35 bowl games …

24 were decided by nine or more points. That doesn't qualify as lopsided, but stick with me.

21 were decided by 14 or more points.

14 by 18 or more points.

12 by 21 or more points.

And you couldn't have cared less. The bowl season came and went and you hardly noticed, did you? Has there ever been such apathy among fans?

Not even the TV cameras could hide the acres of empty seats, although you suspect the TV people tried. The Birmingham News reported after the first 30 bowls had been played that attendance had dropped in 16 of them. Six of those games, including the Sugar Bowl, saw attendance drops of more than 10,000 (and two of those more than 20,000).

The BCS bowls — which supposedly match only the elite teams — were mostly dull affairs, but only if you're talking about the Orange, Sugar, Fiesta and national championship games. You had to avert your eyes from the train wreck they called the Orange Bowl.

The unevenness of the competition is about more than entertainment considerations. It's an indictment on the whole system.

Boring, nonsensical, lopsided matchups are what you get when the selection process is based on automatic conference tie-ins, goofy computer polls (which are ignored anyway by using conference affiliations and at-large berths), what teams "travel well" or have "name appeal" and, for all we know, horoscopes — none of which has anything to do with putting the best teams on the field in the right game.

As noted in this column a few weeks ago, instead of matching the top 10 ranked teams, the five BCS bowls had teams ranked 15th, 12th, 21st and no ranking at all. Meanwhile, two strong teams — Georgia and Texas A&M — were excluded. Georgia, which barely lost to No. 2 Alabama in the final seconds of the SEC championship, manhandled Nebraska, 45-31, and A&M routed Oklahoma, 41-13.

The rest of the bowl field was rounded out with mediocrity. By the time the postseason was finished, here's what the field included: 14 teams with 7-6 records, six teams with 6-7 records and one team with a 7-7 record.

The quality of play isn't helped by a four- to six-week week break between the end of the regular season and bowl games. What other sport does this? One of the old arguments against a playoff system is that it would prolong the season and cost the "student-athletes" more class time, but that's exactly what they're doing anyway. The bowls began on Dec. 15 and ended Jan. 7. By then, it's almost a different season. Meanwhile, they could have played a five-round playoff — the same one that has been held for years at the Football Championship Subdivision level (formerly Division 1-AA).

Oh, well, you're thinking, just one more year of this abuse and then there will be a playoff. In reality, it won't be much of an improvement — instead of picking two teams for the championship game, they'll pick four teams for a playoff. It will be pretty much the same old system, with a slight variation on the theme — namely a selection committee, using much of the old criteria. Meanwhile, the rest of the bowl system remains in place.

At this late date in the game, you're forced to conclude that college football will never get it right.

email: drob@desnews.com

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