Football is Always Important

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I hope you enjoyed watching football last week. There were plenty of games on TV, with the plethora of bowl games and a full NFL schedule.

While many folks think there are too many bowl games, you’re going to be dying for a football game on TV in a month or so. Even a Tennessee-Nebraska Music City Bowl would be music to the ears of a football fan trying to get over the painful withdraw of post-Super Bowl weekends.

Are there too many bowl games? Counting the NCAA playoffs, I count 28 bowl games that include major college football teams. I can remember when I had a hard time finding 15 bowl games for a football contest. I had to throw in the East-West Shrine game and the Blue-Gray game just to have enough.

That’s no problem now, and it’s been debated that there are TOO MANY bowls. My question is, can you have TOO MUCH football. Personally, I don’t think so.

First of all, no one’s forcing you to watch the games. If you don’t want to watch the games, just leave the TV off or watch Andy Griffith or something.

Second, it’s a nice reward for the kids and fans for having a good season, or in some cases a “decent” season. The crowds aren’t so great for some of these bowls, but on the other hand that makes it easier to get a ticket for fans who decide to go.

I’ve heard the argument that these bowl games aren’t important since the College Football Playoffs system was initiated. It’s argued that the only “important” games are the three playoff games.

Well, that’s probably true. However, when in the history of time have any of these bowl games been particularly important? Before any kind of playoff you had two games that REALLY counted, the ones involving the top two teams in the nation. Then, when they selected two teams to play for the national championship, that was the ONLY game that truly counted.

My question is, why does a game have to be for the national championship to be important? Why is the Citrus Bowl game between LSU and Louisville not important, but a regular season game between Louisville and Virginia is?

I enjoy watching the bowl games. I don’t get as excited about them as I do about the playoff games, but that’s to be expected. I like watching NFL games, even if the two teams have no legitimate chance of winning the Super Bowl. I just like watching football.

There’s a disturbing trend where top NFL prospects aren’t participating in their school’s bowl games for fear of injury. The two that have received the most attention are runningbacks Leonard Fournette of LSU and Christian McCaffrey of Stanford. Both figure to be high picks in the NFL draft and didn’t want to risk injury in their school’s bowl games.

I can understand their thinking, but I wonder where this trend will stop? Most people assume if LSU or Stanford had been in the four team playoff series, the two stars would have competed. However, their bowl games were deemed “unimportant,” as I noted earlier in this column.

So what’s important? When LSU opened the season 2-2 with losses to Wisconsin and Auburn, you could write off any chance of the Tigers winning the national championship before the first of October. So why should Fournette bother to play the remaining seven games of LSU’s regular season schedule? He would get drafted high by some NFL team regardless, and it might even help his stock since he would forgo seven games of wear and tear and possible injuries.

It’s an interesting debate. Some suggest if college athletes are paid to pay in college that would solve the problem, but that only brings up some new problems.

The top players still wouldn’t be paid what they would make in the NFL, not even close. Also, what kind of pay scale would you have for a 60 man college team? Would all the players get paid, or just the best? Where do you draw the line? That could cause dissension on a team.

I would expect many colleges would drop football if the players started getting paid. The big schools, like Alabama and Ohio State, could afford to pay more and gobble up all the best players, even more so than they do now. Then it would be a matter of who pays the most has the best team, like the Yankees of the ‘70s in baseball.

I guess it will all work out, and no one of any importance will be asking for my opinion. I’ll just continue to enjoy the games and leave the rest to the brilliant minds of the NCAA to figure out