All the talk on the major sports media seems to be about the playoff games in either the Cotton Bowl or the Orange Bowl. How about the others? There are 38 other bowl games this year. Do they matter?
If you have the inclination, you can study all the rules, perks, and pains that go into how bowls are established and how selections are made, but for most of us, it’s one final game to watch our favorite team play.
For the players and coaches, it’s a time to concentrate on football. Well, the coaches must worry about recruiting and juggling some schedules, but they still have ample time to study their opponent, devise a game plan, and practice.
The players are normally given a time to study, take final exams, and then hit the practice field. They don’t have to think about anything except their bowl opponent. When you have at least two weeks but can have as much as a month from the end of the regular season to the bowl game, there’s time to heal some nagging injuries, watch plenty of film, and prepare to close out the season with a satisfying win.
Most coaches use this time as a spring practice, breaking into specialty groups and honing the individual skills. Then they’ll put the team back together, install their game plan, and prepare for the bowl game itself.
Some people say that unless you are among the top four teams playing for the national championship, the other bowl games don’t matter. They’re usually the folks that have never played football, and it’s even more unlikely they’ve ever played in a bowl game.
Bowl games matter. I’ve been in a few athletic departments and seen a lot more on TV and in magazines. Those trophy cases host bowl trophies right alongside the rivalry trophies and conference championship hardware. They’re not relegated to a closet; they’re showcased for everyone to see. Teams are proud they participated and prouder if they won.
It’s the last game of the year against a solid team they’ve probably never played, from a different part of the country. It’s the last game ever for almost all the seniors. It’s the last time they’ll put on that uniform. It’s the last time they’ll run into a stadium and hear thousands of fans cheering for them. It’s the last time they’ll be on TV with millions in the audience.
But most importantly for a lot of players, it’s the last time they’ll be part of a team, in uniform, and on the football field together. They’ll have one last memory, and they’ll want it to be a good one. Just ask those players; bowl games matter to them!