Atlanta football fans enjoyed the tradition of ringing in the new year with the Peach Bowl. The crowd could leave the Georgia Dome and walk a few blocks for the Peach Drop. Now, the Peach Bowl will begin at noon on the last day of the year. Does anyone care about Houston playing Florida State, the only game of the day with no connection to the national title?
Sipping champagne, we'll then watch college football's final four - Oklahoma vs. Clemson and Alabama vs. Michigan State. Is Nick Saban's scowling face old man 2015? Has Bob Stoops replaced Dick Clark? New Year's Eve seems odd for such high-stakes games.
The Jan. 1 bowl games used to offer an explosive end to the college football season. Now, New Year's Day games look like college leftovers. Many of the sport's biggest schools will be playing on the first day of 2016, but it still feels anticlimactic.
Fans will have to wait to Jan. 11, after even more meaningless bowls are played out, to see who wins the national championship.
It all shows that even with the playoffs a good step forward, college football remains a cumbersome monster, thanks to the entrenched bowl system, which refused to take a back seat to the championship games. Folks thought the playoffs would bring the demise of the bowl system, but more and more bowls are added each year. This season, several teams with losing records participated.
ESPN orchestrates it all. The "worldwide leader" profits the most from more and more bowls, and also nailed down the playoffs. Besides, fan bases of big time schools like Nebraska don't mind if the Cornhuskers make a bowl with a 5-7 record. At the start of the "bowl season," officials claimed reforms would be made so as to not have losing teams in the bowls. Although several bowls were played this year before empty seats, I doubt any changes will come about. Even games like the Pinstripe Bowl's epic Duke-Indiana clash made money.
In a few years, the playoffs will undoubtedly be expanded to eight teams, which means more traditional New Year's Day bowls will be included. That will likely move the playoffs to New Year's Day. Once again, hungover fans will eat their black eyed peas and turnip greens and watch meaningful football, like God and Knute Rockne intended.