On Saturday at 1:30 p.m., in Camping World Stadium in Orlando, a 6-5 Georgia State team will take on 6-6 Western Kentucky in the third annual AutoNation Cure Bowl.
Later that night, Middle Tennessee takes on Arkansas State in the fourth annual Raycom Media Camellia Bowl in Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama.
A few days later, Ohio and UAB meet in 15,023-seat Thomas Robinson Stadium in the Bahamas Bowl.
In each case, dozens of people from coast to coast will be watching.
They’re further evidence that we have too many college football bowl games.
I say this almost every year, but it bears repeating: We have too many college football bowl games.
It really seems as though 15 or 20 bowl games should be plenty, doesn’t it? Twenty five might be a tad excessive. Thirty is really overdoing it.
This year we have 39 bowls that involve Football Bowl Subdivision teams (not counting the playoff championship game Jan. 8 in Atlanta).
There are just too many ho-hum games sponsored by companies we’ve never heard of involving teams most of us don’t care about.
There are 129 FBS programs and 78 of them (roughly 60 percent) were invited to bowl games this year. It has ceased to be a special accomplishment.
There are 16 teams playing in bowl games who won only six games during the regular season. There are 19 bowl-bound teams — including Iowa and Iowa State — who won seven games.
I know some would argue that bowl games are a nice way for teams to be rewarded for having a great season because they get to fly off to a place that often has a warmer climate and all sorts of sightseeing possibilities.
Except 6-6 or 7-5 isn’t such a great season. Three teams that earned bowl bids fired their head coaches.
The weather in New York City, Detroit and Boise isn’t going to be too balmy in late December. And I’d love to know what sort of sights Middle Tennessee and Arkansas State are seeing in Montgomery this week.
And a lot of these teams aren’t flying off to anywhere. Nine are playing bowl games in their home states. Memphis, Florida Atlantic, Miami and Navy are playing in their home stadiums.
At least those teams are going to save on expenses. More than half of the 78 bowl-bound teams will spend more money taking players, coaches, band members and cheerleaders to a bowl than what they’ll earn for playing in the game.
And yet they keep adding more games every year.
In 2014, they added the Camellia Bowl, the Boca Raton Bowl and the Bahamas Bowl. In 2015, the new additions were the Cure Bowl and the Arizona Bowl.
New this year is the DXL Frisco Bowl, which will be played in a 20,500-seat soccer stadium in Frisco, Texas.
Many of these bowl games began as tourism ploys. They existed largely to bring in fans from out of town who hopefully would spend gobs of money in hotels and restaurants and boost the local economy, but many of them failed miserably in that endeavor.
The new Frisco Bowl, for example, is going to match SMU, whose campus is 25 miles away, against Louisiana Tech, which is about 270 miles away. Not many fans are going to spend even one night in Frisco.
Many bowl games do get some funding from corporate sponsors. That’s why we have the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl and the Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl and the Academy Sports and Outdoors Texas Bowl. There’s also the Walk-On’s Independence Bowl (formerly the Poulan Weedweater Bowl), which is now sponsored by a bar with 15 locations in Louisiana and Texas.
These aren’t exactly Fortune 500 companies. The corporate contributions have to be pretty modest.
What has happened is ESPN Events has purchased many of these bowls and is keeping them alive for television purposes only without regard for how many people actually attend the game. USA Today reported this week that ESPN Events now owns 13 of the 39 games.
So that apparently is why we have all these bowls. So ESPN has something to put on the air during the day on the Friday before Christmas.
That’s why we have too many college football bowl games.