As arguably the sport's most-visible coaching entity—in terms of exposure and not so much in a physical capacity—Nick Saban carries a bit of weight in the college football world when he speaks. So when he expels drivel like: "Maybe we need to go one way or the other. Either have bowl games or have playoffs but not try to have both," it has potential to gain traction with people who care what kind-of-important honchos like Saban have to say, and, at the micro level, possibly strip me of one of my most cherished holiday traditions, i.e. scanning bowl gift lists.
What the hell, Nick?
So, quick backstory I guess: last week before teeing off in some charity golf thing, Nick Saban told what I presume was a group of journos (or, in less likelihood, just the AL.com reporter who wrote the story) that his "worst fear" in relation to the College Football Playoff was confirmed last year, this being a paucity of attention on the teams not in the playoff. Which like, duh, Nick. But I'll let him finish: "All the attention, all the interest would be about the four teams in the playoffs, which is exactly what happened ... A lot of young men get a lot of positive self gratification from being able to go to a bowl game and that's always been a special thing. That by having a playoff we would minimize the interest in other bowl games, which I think is sort of what happened and I hate to see that for college football."
Look, I get what Saban's saying, and it's cute that he cares about collegiate ball's also-rans. But in America and pretty much everywhere else, sporting attention is rightfully thrust most upon those competitions that have championship implications. That is not applicable to the contestants of the GoDaddy Bowl. The attention, or lack thereof, given to the participants of that game and every other game that wasn't the Rose or Sugar Bowls last year was not only proper but also in line with all past bowl competitions that did not feature teams playing for history.
Further, I'm not sure what "positive self-gratification" means, but the only thing these kids get out of going to a non-playoff bowl is a free trip and a boatload of gifts, neither of which they're complaining about. Of course they enjoy competing and being amongst their brethren a final time—especially if they're seniors—but there's little else for them to play for besides, I don't know, an extra audition for NFL scouts. And, these kids aren't getting any less gratification of the positive self or whatever by having less attention paid to them than say, Alabama. They get it. Winners get the headlines.
To say the bowl season has become laughably oversaturated is an understatement. It's ridiculous. And this came before the announcement that four additional bowl games have been tacked on to the impending post-season slate. Yes, 84 teams will play in bowls this December and January, and also yes, only like a quarter of them will be of any enjoyment to watch. But the addition of a playoff shouldn't result in an either/or scenario. The non-playoff games may be pointless and money-wasters and attention-less relative to their playoff counterparts, but players want their gifts and trips, and fans want football to watch.
Which brings me back to MY worst fear: doing away with bowl games. And trying to figure out just where these players' positive self-gratification will come from if that day, God-forbid, were to happen.
However, thankfully, due to the cashola these games still manage to produce for conferences and otherwise-useless bowl execs, this is one time Saban's comments will be for the most part, ignored. Nothing to see here, people.