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The college football bowl system’s a mess, changes necessary

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Enough is enough. The system stinks. Change it.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 19 AAC Championship - Tulsa at Cincinnati Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

College Football Bowl Selection Sunday should be a special day for the sport, but now it’s one big charade. It takes a drawn out show to find out who makes it to the College Football Playoff, then the other bowls take hours to trickle in slowly to get the full bowl game landscape in focus. However, these gripes pale in comparison to the bowl system itself.

The College Football Playoff’s criteria is a farce

On the surface, Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame are all worthy of being in the playoff. A problem, however, resides in the fact the committee claims to value conference championships yet doesn’t give non-Power Five conferences a fair shake when they follow their end of the deal.

In the final rankings, Cincinnati, who won the AAC Championship and went 9-0, was ranked No. 8 when No. 7 Florida has 3 losses, and No. 6 Oklahoma has 2 losses and lost to 4-5 Kansas State. 11-0 Coastal Carolina was ranked No. 12 when Iowa State (8-3) was ranked ahead of them at No. 8 with one of their losses coming to Louisiana, whom Coastal beat earlier this season. The rankings just don’t add up. If conference championships matter, if being undefeated matters, the Bearcats and Chanticleers should have received more love for the committee. Kirk Herbstreit said teams like Cincy should take the high road. Nah, fight for every inch.

Now is the time for non-Power Five conferences that had undefeated teams (Cincinnati, Coastal Carolina, San Jose State) to say ‘enough is enough, you’ll never put us in the top 4 and we demand you expand the playoff’. The high road leads to a dead end in the NCAA, and the only way they’ll wake up and give teams like the Bearcats better opportunities is to fight the status-quo and underlying biases that exist on the CFP committee year after year.

2-8 South Carolina gets a bowl, 9-2 Army does not

Because of the pandemic and a good number of programs opting not to play in bowl games, teams with losing records are allowed to receive bowl berths. This exemption was taken to an incredible extreme with 2-8 South Carolina, who fired their head coach Will Muschamp, will be playing in the Gasparilla Bowl.

While the Gamecocks get a bowl berth, 9-2 Army won’t be playing in one. The Independence Bowl was forced to cancel the game because they couldn’t find an opponent for Army due to the number of teams opting out of bowl games and the teams that didn’t opt out playing already contractually tied to other bowls.

In a year where there’s a 2-8 team making a bowl, where there are bowls called the Military Bowl and Armed Forces Bowl, Army might not be playing in a bowl game. That just seems unfathomable. Army said they’re going to continue to fight to try a bowl opponent, but the fact they don’t have a spot somewhere is ridiculous. Army’s an independent, they don’t have a conference, but conferences shouldn’t get to dictate bowl match-ups to this extreme when a deserving team is left out, solely because they didn’t lock some contract up with a bowl committee.

This is a black eye for college football and an absolute joke that this is a conversation that needs to be had.

Indiana doesn’t get a NY6 bowl and deserved one

The Hoosiers had a great season, their only loss of the year by was a touchdown to No. 3 Ohio State. Indiana was one of the best teams this college football, and their ‘reward’ is a tilt versus 4-5 Ole Miss in the Outback Bowl. IU deserved a New Year’s Six Bowl Game. Indiana should have been headed to the Fiesta Bowl, but they chose 8-3 Iowa State (an at-large bid) to take on Oregon instead. The metrics, the data, it was there for Indiana to receive a better ranking from the CFP committee, but the committee disrespected IU and ranked them an egregious No. 11.

This year really proves why the playoff has to expand in expeditious fashion

It’s quite clear who the top 3 teams in the country are right now, but who’s No. 4 is up for debate. Nothing against Notre Dame, but it’s hard saying if they’re really better than Cincinnati, Texas A&M, or even Indiana.

With more players deeming bowl games as exhibition games and sitting them out, something has to be done to create more intrigue for these players and the college football landscape. Giving more teams like undefeated Coastal Carolina a chance for an upset seems like a no-brainer from a television ratings perspective, and it’s no secret the NCAA loves generating revenue from their unpaid athletes. It’s becoming a disservice to the collegiate game to not expand the playoff. With college hoops and March Madness we get one of the most exciting products in all of sports. People who never watch a lick of college basketball are now creating brackets at work and becoming emotionally invested in the sport. College football could do the same with an expanded bracket, perhaps 16. This won’t hurt college football, it will only help it now and in the years ahead.