The college football world was changed radically when the NCAA changed from its standard BCS system to determine postseason play to a playoff format. Since then, college football fans have enjoyed seeing the competition, and while it might not yet be the perfect system, it is a good step in the right direction.
Personally, college football has always been my second favorite sport, but I have to admit that there is something special and exciting about watching bowl games all throughout December and into January. Heck, even spending Thanksgiving watching the NFL is a blast.
But a question I’ve heard since this change has happened is this: are bowl games worth it? If the real goal is getting to the college football playoff and competing for a national championship, is it worth the time and effort to play a bowl game — especially since less prestigious games can cut into valuable recruiting time?
My answer is yes. Any bowl game is worth it.
I say that because bowl games are often a good indicator of a team’s progress, of how well they are progressing towards that ultimate goal. What bowl game you get invited to depends on your conference and your strength of schedule.
So allow me to pose this question — obviously the Utes won’t make the playoffs this season, a sad result of their two loss record. So would Utah fans be OK with not going to a bowl game since we won’t go to the playoffs? Would we want to see another two teams playing in the Rose Bowl, rather than our own? Of course not. The thought is ridiculous no matter how you look at it.
The goal of any sports team, collegiate or otherwise, is to get to the postseason and perform well enough to gain recognition and better talent for the next season. The whole point is to keep moving forward, and winning bowl games helps advance that agenda.
Not to mention that every bowl game has a guaranteed payout to participating teams. It’s literally a win-win scenario — a team gets guaranteed money, a chance to perform in front of a national audience, and it helps in recruiting. It only makes sense. The best players often want to play for the teams where they will get the most attention, and the bigger and better you can make a college football program, the more success you can potentially achieve.
A few years ago, the Utes had one of the longest bowl game winning streaks in the nation. The constant success in both regular and postseason play was part of the reason Utah was invited into an elite conference in the Pac-12. As fans, we enjoyed every single moment of it.
Of course you never want to be satisfied when it comes to postseason play. If you continually go to the Poinsettia Bowl year after year, or end up in some no name bowl game, you probably aren’t getting better. Bowl games are good for programs only so long as they help those programs get better. But the Utes don’t really have that problem this season. Utah keeps getting better, and even in spite of some unfortunate stumbles this season, they still have a shot at a decent bowl game.
The payout and national attention they receive will more than make up for any perceived loss at not going to the playoffs this year. A win at the Rose Bowl might just be the catalyst that puts this team over the top next season. As well as the Utes have played this year, with the chance of getting a better recruiting class next year, there’s almost no doubt in my mind the Utes will run the gauntlet and make the playoffs in the near future.