[credit provider=”NBC Sports”]
This past weekend, the college football bowl season got underway with the New Mexico Bowl. While many will point to the game as evidence that there are too many bowls, a closer look shows that the NCAA should actually add more bowl games just like this.While nobody showed up to the New Mexico Bowl to watch the game in person, plenty of people watched on television, drawing a 1.9 rating on ESPN and more viewers than Butler’s upset of top-ranked Indiana in college basketball on CBS.
A 1.9 rating doesn’t sound that great on the surface (a bad Monday Night Football game will do a 4.0 rating), but it is pretty good for a pair of 7-5 teams (Arizona, Nevada), including one team from a non-power conference. In fact, in recent weeks, Oklahoma-Oklahoma St. did a 1.5, Texas-TCU did a 1.1, and Arizona-Arizona St. did a 1.3 (all on ESPN).
But more importantly, what’s the harm in letting all schools schedule one extra game in December or January? The biggest argument against more bowl games is that it diminishes the value of the current bowls. But what “value” did the New Mexico Bowl already have? What value does the Beef O’ Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl have?
The truth is, it is already too late to worry about the value of bowl games outside the BCS. This year’s games include 13 teams that did not have a winning record. And two bowl games will feature a matchup of 6-6 teams.
Of course, one way to try and salvage the sanctity of the bowl games would be to not call the additional games “bowl games.” The NCAA could give them a less prestigious name akin to the NIT tournament in college basketball.
In the end, it doesn’t matter what they are called. Sports fans love college football. And if the NCAA adds more bowl games, the fans will watch, and the schools will make more money.