I was born and raised in Beatrice, Nebraska, a town of about 12,000 that’s just 40 miles south of Lincoln. If you are born and raised in Nebraska, your genetics, coupled with some mysterious element in the ground water, automatically makes you a lifetime college football nut. You live and die with the Nebraska Cornhuskers. I also got my B.S. and M.S. at the University of Nebraska, and met my wife there, further strengthening the Cornhusker link. Oh yes, there are obviously other sports at Nebraska than football. But nothing stirs the passions of a Nebraskan more than a crisp fall day at Memorial Stadium.
I still am a Nebraska football fan. Increasingly though, I am less and less of a fan of college football in general. I used to love the bowl season. I used to love New Year’s Day, with an endless procession of games, typically with multiple games on at the same time. However, it’s just not the same anymore. There is only one bowl game I watched this entire bowl season, and that was the Cornhuskers (rather forgettable) game in the Capital One bowl. Other than that? I watched snippets of a few games on New Year’s Day, but that’s it. The supposed “National Championship” game was played last night…and I couldn’t have cared less.
To start…IT WAS FREAKIN’ JANUARY 9th!!!! What the heck? The first bowl games were played before Christmas, but the supposed national championship game isn’t played until January 9th?!??!!? It’s DAMNED hard to maintain any continuity, any momentum in terms of fan interest when the bowl games are stretched out over a 3 week period. Just like everything else in America these days, it’s now all about the $$$$$$. Bowls used to MEAN something. They were a great reward for a good season, a chance for your team and your fans to celebrate one last game in a warm location. It didn’t matter if your team was playing in the Astro Bluebonnet Bowl or the Rose Bowl, it MEANT something to your team and your fans.
Then along game the BCS, and an “improved” bowl system. Instead of January 1 representing THE day of celebrating college football, the BCS demanded that the “big” bowls (Fiesta, Rose, Sugar, and Orange) never be played simultaneously. God FORBID two games be on at once and split college football viewing, and the related advertising $$$$!! No, all of the major bowl games HAD to be played at times when no other football games were on, so now we have bowl games being played on January 1st…2nd…4th…9th….etc. Corporate sponsorship also meant that tradition no longer mattered with the names of bowls. Instead of the Sugar Bowl, it’s the “Allstate Sugar Bowl”. Instead of the Gator Bowl, it’s the “Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl”. Some bowls just dropped the pretense all together and basically admitted it’s all about the money, hence the “Beef-O’Brady’s Bowl”, the “Little Ceasar’s Bowl”, the “Chick-Fil-A Bowl”, etc. Who needs the actual old bowl names? Let’s just call it the Little Ceasar’s Bowl and use a giant wad of cheesy-bread instead of a football!! Let’s have the players wear Little Ceasar’s logos on their uniforms instead of their school logo!!! Let just take those 3 hours and make it one big infomercial, and dispense with the game itself!!
So as the (supposed) National Championship game was played last night, I turned the TV on, and…ended up watching “The Horse Whisperer”. I didn’t watch a single play of the game, and didn’t know (or care about) the outcome until looking at the news this morning. On January 9th, one week after getting back to work after the holidays, college football has already been long forgotten for me. After January 1 (actually January 2 this year, since GOD FORBID we keep tradition and play the bowl games on January 1 if it falls on a Sunday), I mentally check out of the college football mindset for another 8 months.
I’m sorry, AllState, AT&T, Discover, GoDaddy, etc….your bowl sponsorship in the post-January 1 games was wasted on me. I’m sorry, TV networks, but your attempts to spur interest in your regular TV shows during the bowl games were wasted on me. One of your network “stars” (hah) from some “reality” TV show singing the National Anthem? Missed it. Cutting away in the middle of a game to show one of your “stars” on the sidelines or in the stands? Missed it. Showing the game stats during the game, with the stats “sponsored” by an insurance company or car company? Missed it.
The sad thing is that I AM what should be your core audience. College football has some serious issues, if the direction college football is going can turn off a die-hard, born-and-bred Nebraska Cornhusker.