UCF played Arkansas State in the Cure Bowl Saturday evening. The College is a sponsor of the game: we provide them with office space down at the Executive Development Center. I have a personal stake in their cause: my mother died of breast cancer at fifty-nine. That said, outside of Orlando and Jonesboro, few people cared about the game. It was buried on the CBS Sports Network with a 5:30 p.m. start.
The Cure Bowl is not alone. Almost all of the bowl games played before New Year’s Eve are meaningless games that fill some network time and provide people who don’t want to talk to their relatives during the holidays an excuse to escape for a few hours.
Lonny has a solution: Relegation. Both Lonny and I are Liverpool FC fans. We were talking about the state of the English Premier League the other day when Lonny blurted out, “College Football needs relegation!” Lonny does this a lot. He blurts out things. In the last week of the semester, when even a small fraction of his 4,000 students come to beg him to forgive their poor performance in his class, the long line can get to him. He blurts out more then.
This blurt, though, might be genius. And like any good supervisor, when a subordinate has a great idea, you go with it and claim it as your own. So, here is how it would work: The bottom team in each of the Power Five conferences would be paired against the winner of one of the non-power five conferences with a slot in the higher ranked conference at stake. If the Power Five conference school loses the game, they get relegated. These would be preset slotted games: worst ACC team plays winner of AAC; worst Big Ten team plays winner of MAC; worst Big 12 team plays winner of Conference USA; worst SEC team plays winner of Sunbelt; Pac 12 worst team plays Mountain West champ. So, instead of UCF playing Arkansas State, imagine Navy playing Virginia for a spot in the ACC next year. Or, how about Western Michigan playing Rutgers for a spot in the Big Ten. Five bowls now have meaning. Heck, they all have divisions, so lets do it that way and have 10 bowl games with relegation at stake instead of just five. Ratings would skyrocket. Are you listening ESPN?
Will it happen? Probably not. Conferences are about more than just football. Some even have academic consortia that produce powerful societal outcomes. Maybe most importantly the president of the losing Power Five university likely gets the ax in the process. None of them are voting for that, and I, too, think making football even more important on campus isn’t a good thing. But, it sure would be fun to watch….