5 bowl lessons we hopefully learned

The title suggests “hopefully” the way people buy $10 scratch off lottery tickets with their morning coffee before work, hoping they get a prize so large they can turn around, go home, and not give any explanation as to why they didn’t show up because they just won enough loot to buy the company.

This bowl season has provided us with a lot of scalding hot takes if you’re into that sort of thing, but it’s the opposite of the microwaved, non-nuanced thought process where the actual learning tends to take place. Come along, because learning is less fun alone.

1. The New Year’s Eve thing is stupid.

Look, everyone and their mother (including in this spot) has bitched to the hills about the NYE arrogance of college football and Bill Hancock’s “let me treat you like you’re stupid” response about competitive games as a reason for low ratings. How about a solution? Money is undefeated, and at some point prior to the renegotiation of a television deal, advertisers are going to balk at paying prices for 25-plus million viewers and getting 15 to 18 million instead. At that point, the powers that be in college football will have to choose betwixt their traditional hard line stance or money. It’s a 50/50 toss up, since college football is the one avenue of sport … college or pro … which seems to value whatever their idea of “tradition” is over money and common sense. I don’t have high hopes, but eventually, advertisers are going to say, “the hell with this” and check out. How much the CFB Playoff brass like that extra bargaining chip going into the next television deal will determine how long this charade lasts.

2. Give the SEC credit, but let’s also understand this stuff changes annually.

It was only a year ago that Ohio State had paddled Alabama and TCU flogged Ole Miss. The Pac-12 went 6-2 and the Big Ten went 5-5 but had Ohio State as the champ so that buoyed the record in people’s minds. The SEC went 7-5, the most wins, but also saw their three highest ranked teams lose (Alabama, Ole Miss, Mississippi State). The point is that this stuff is very cyclical, and it’s cyclical annually. The SEC was also a miserable 2-5 against ranked teams last year. Next year might provide something different, or something the same. Who knows. But let’s please tap the breaks on “HAHAHAHA THE SEC IS DOMINANT AGAIN!!!” As I’ve always said in this spot, college football changes dramatically by the year, and it should be treated as a clean slate every fall. That said, great out of conference and bowl season by the SEC, clearly 2015-16’s best conference.

3. 5-7 teams going unbeaten in bowl games DOES NOT mean we just need to open the floodgates for all who want in.

This season, teams with losing records entering bowl games went 3-0, suggesting with the work of hindsight that they were very worthy bowl teams. What it really shows is the inaccuracy of using bowl games as any barometer of how good or bad a team really is. The lack of structure leading up to bowl games, the travel, the party atmosphere, all of it … lends itself more to what bowl games originally started out to be … exhibitions. That isn’t to not give credit to the teams that win, but it also says more about what bowl games say about the overall scope of a team’s season than any assumed even-ness 5-7 teams have related to teams that actually have .500 or winning records entering bowl games. While not a huge fan of the 5-7 team getting in, if there are no other options, this shows the value these games can have to those teams getting that unexpected extra month of practice.

4. Playoffs don’t equal drama — not necessarily.

We’ve got four CFB Playoff first round games in the books and the cumulative score between the winners and the losers is 176-72. What we’re finding out is that you’re going to get your true champion, or at least what makes people feel is a valid champ, but it doesn’t mean you’re staying up chewing your nails because every game is “down four, two minutes left, team has the ball at their own 20-yard-line.” Inclusion often happens at the sacrifice of drama, not to say every BCS game was must-see television. What we’re finding out is that there’s a chasm at times between the best and the near-best and it’s something we should expect going forward. This only validates the regular season. Also, we’ve had four of the Power 5 conferences represented already in CFB Playoff championship games. This is all-inclusive, if not dramatic.

5. Shut up about expanding the playoff.

I’m not spending a ton of time on this since it was already written about on this spot by this same person, but don’t give the world  your crap about expansion unless you want to just admit it’s self-serving. The committee can’t find a reasonable time to play three games where people are able to watch, and for all the “look at what Stanford did to Iowa!” (in Jerry Seinfled “Hellooooo” tummy voice), you do realize if you’re expanding it to a shaky eight games, Stanford doesn’t get three spots, right? There wasn’t much talk about letting in North Carolina, Baylor, Notre Dame, Florida, and so on. More inclusion is just a license for a less authentic champ. We’re where we need to be, and this was yet another perfect year to display that, especially in coordination with last season when the number four team won the title.