Colin’s Calls Inside College Football Today
The bowl season is coming to a close, seemingly just moments after it began. Between December 20th and our current countdown to the national championship game, there’s a lot to digest.
Are the conferences politicking for prestige? Probably.
Are the fans of each trying to making sweeping judgements based on a two-week stretch? Definitely.
But that’s what bowl season is all about, and in addition to all the chest beating, we can all agree on a few more profound truths.
Coaching legends are growing, the college football New Year’s mystique is returning, and these games are more than just a vacation for going .500 or better. Here’s what we learned and how we got there.
1. The SEC has fallen but won’t fade.
Think this conference is the best or worst? A yes or a no answer? Black and white? You don’t have to be Phyllis from the Finebaum Show or Danny Kanell on ESPN when it comes to the SEC. There’s truth to both far-flung reactions.
Yes, the SEC was not dominant this bowl season. The SEC West went 2-5 with the two wins coming from the bottom two teams in the division. Ole Miss was blown out, and Alabama lost to a team that was written off in early September. Mississippi State lost to a triple-option attack that people said couldn’t win in the ACC, much more a New Year’s Six bowl against an SEC team.
But as beleaguered as the conference has been this bowl season, it’s important to take the past two weeks as just that. Two weeks of non-conference matchups that are more about the schools’ performances than they are the conferences’. It’s a very important time in college football, so conclusions about each conference should be drawn. Just make sure they fall somewhere between Phyllis and Danny when it comes to the SEC.
2. These games mean a lot to the players and coaches.
And I don’t even have a picture of a slumped Urban Meyer eating pizza to prove it this year. But the caliber of games, especially in the fourth quarter, this bowl season has once again revealed that these games are far more than post-exams vacations with a shopping spree included. Their significance can be seen in the emotion, both positive and negative, across the bowl season.
Central Michigan had an unthinkable comeback capped by one of the wildest multi-lateral desperation plays you’ll ever see. Even better, in true bowl fashion, they went for 2 and the win. CMU fell short, but Houston, in the pouring rain with an interim coach, came back from 25 points down in 4th quarter to beat Pittsburgh. TCU made playoff-snub statement. Wisconsin players carried Barry Alveraz off on their shoulders. Jim Mora won and brushed off one of the greatest coaches in college football history.
In sum, the emotion, the desire, and the will to win was there every step of the way. It may not be a 68-team tournament, but the 78 teams this bowl season sure played like it was win or go home. Not go home from a pleasant vacation. Not go home to get ready for the NFL. But go home as a postseason failure. These guys wanted to win.
3. The pageantry of college football on New Year’s has returned.
If nothing else at least the Go Daddy Bowl isn’t diluting our New Year’s Day bowl experience anymore. For the first time since before the BCS era, all of the major, now-deemed New Year’s Six bowls, were on New Year’s Eve or Day and not spread out across the entire first week of January.
Once again, it is an honor for any program to play on the 31st or the 1st, not a toss-up between playing in a top-tier bowl and facing a team that
just joined the FBS. Now college football has its March Madness opening weekend back. All of the marquee games are in a 36-hour span, and the sport is better for it.
Like the new system or not, the return to the sport’s greatest day was a result of the College Football Playoff.
The national semifinals were two of the most watched college football games ever, and, coupling that tournament with the Tournament of Roses to kickoff the New Year, the bowl season once again felt like a part of the holiday season.
The game is ever-evolving, but this year it returned to its best tradition.
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Is a four-team College Football Playoff enough?
Which bowl game was the most exciting and/or entertaining this season?
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