One athletic director I spoke with had a unique idea: suggesting only the best 16 bowl games should remain with the remaining “bowl games” held on campuses of the remaining bowl eligible teams – whether six or seven wins is required for bowl eligibility.
“Declining attendance and the huge hidden costs of ticket ‘guarantees’ make most bowl trips a losing proposition for all involved,” said the athletic director, who spoke to CBSSports.com on the condition of anonymity. “Institutions and fans are beginning to say ‘uncle’ since they can’t afford to support those bowls in the current economy.”
Under the AD’s scenario, once the 16 premier bowls are filled, every team that is bowl eligible would participate in an on-campus bowl game. If there is an odd number of teams that qualify, the lowest ranked team, based on the BCS rankings, would not play in an on-campus bowl game, but still would be allowed to conduct December practices like the other bowl teams.
“Most bowl ‘functions’ are for local public relations and sponsors and simply another public appearance ‘duty’ for the players and coaches involved,” the AD said. “They have no real interest in dressing up and going to luncheons and dinners or even to events where they are expected to mingle with the opposing players. They would much rather spend their free time visiting with family members or teammates’ families or doing the things college kids do.”
Also, the AD proposed that all teams that qualified for a bowl would receive the same bowl “loot” – i.e. bowl gifts – paid out of a central pool of funds from the BCS bowls or another source so that each student-athlete was treated the same.
The AD said having bowl games on campus would eliminate the huge amount of money lost on the “secondary” bowl games and provide the best opportunity for the games to have better attendance. “Currently (the attendance at) many bowls are an embarrassment that indicates to players and fans there is no interest in the game,” he said.
By holding the “secondary” bowl games on campus, it would provide a flexible system that can adjust to whether there are 62 or 74 bowl eligible teams. “Many of these (secondary) bowls are owned by ESPN,” he said. “So it should not make much difference where they are played.”
I’m not sure how many schools would be prepared, or want to, hold bowl games on campus when their school is on holiday break. I also doubt the attendance would match a regular season conference game, but it’s better than the alternative, according to the AD.
“To be honest, some of the bowl sites are just not attractive for teams,” he said. “At least at (the campus) sites, there is a good chance for some excitement surrounding the game. Some of the stadiums (for bowls) are not used regularly whereas a home (campus) site has hosted five or six games already that year and would be able to provide things like decent locker rooms."