Bobby Carpenter: Do Bowl Games Still Matter?

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The Big Ten has 9 teams playing in bowl games and from Minnesota taking on West Virginia in on December 28 to Ohio State playing Utah on January 1. While every game provides opportunities for the star players to “opt out” if they are keeping score the games still count.

There was a day where conferences were judged off their bowl record. It was a chance for every conference to test their strength relative to the other conferences across the country. Much of the success depended on matchups and the health of each team, but those days appear to be long gone. 

Now, thanks to the coaching carousal, many teams are playing games with interim coaches and staffs that have been cobbled together. Coordinators are elevated to head coaches, position coaches are calling plays, and graduate assistants are running position groups. For more than a handful of teams it’s an absolute mess. 

In the middle of everything are the players. Those who have chosen to play get to enjoy a brief trip (hopefully to somewhere warm) and one additional game in their collegiate career. The handful of days spent leading up to the bowl game can be some of the memorable of their career. Enjoying some of the local nightlife before waking up for an early practice are some of the most bonding moments of a career.

However, there is the “other side” of bowl preparation. For the teams who have coaching continuity and stability it’s a chance to develop young players. That means live and intense practices.

After game planning is finished with the starters there’s the chance to get the young players some work. At the end of practice many coaches will take the 1st and 2nd year players and have them square off in in “full go” situations. These are invaluable reps for young players who haven’t had much game experience. These practices are tough and rugged, but it gives the younger players a chance to establish themselves before the new recruits arrive for spring ball. 

It’s a huge opportunity… and one that would be terrible to waste.

So, while coaches are busy signing their new recruiting class and digging through the transfer portal, there are young players battling to get a leg up on the incoming competition. Hopefully all the young players realize the opportunity that is in front of them. The problem is that most of these practices feel close to summer training camp and it’s much easier to try to survive as opposed to thrive. Do bowl games still matter? To 

Written by Bobby Carpenter


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  1. I can only speak as a fan, and I can say bowl games matter a great deal. They are bragging rights games for teams and conferences to conclude the season. It’s that last chance to show who was legit or a pretender. If certain people don’t place importance on them then they are the ones departing from historical perspectives on goal games. I can’t imagine a fan in their night mind saying they don’t care if their team wins or loses a bowl game. If they do I call them fair weather fans, not real fans. All this talk about bowls suddenly not mattering has been generated by the playoff, which by the way, was predicted a few years ago by Saban, who was against it. If you place all importance on the 4 team playoff it diminishes the accomplishments of 99% of the rest of the country’s teams. That is not a good thing for the overall health of college football as a whole. Yes. Bowl games certainly matter to the most important people supporting the programs: The FANS.

  2. Bobby, don’t forget those Bowl Game Bonuses built into pretty much every HC and Asst contracts certainly in Power5 World. Basically – “Win at least half your games and get a 13th month salary bonus”.
    For the players it’s a “bling package” of a knock-off watch and a Best Buy gift card … and, of course, those notorious “eating contests” with the opposing team.
    If loyal fans buy their Bowl Game tickets thru their booster club … those seats will be “Bob Uecker seats” even in half-filled stadiums. …. I better stop. I’m getting kinda cynical … LOL!

  3. This is probably belongs in the same category as “Best BBQ Joint” and “Favorite Bond Girl” and “Ginger or Mary Ann”. IOW … each person is entitled to their personal opinion and every opinion has equal value.

    Here obviously “John Melton” feels very strongly that OF COURSE Bowl Games Matter …. I , OTOH, believe they USED To Matter 20-30 years ago maybe as recently as 10 years ago but not so much any more. When 60 teams are bowl eligible and 50% of those only won 6-7 games, it kinda takes the “honor” out of the thing. If there was a defining moment in this debate it might have been The Poulan Weedeater Bowl in beautiful downtown Shreveport / Bossier City. … Is anyone somewhere actually wearing a Weedeater Bowl watch and showing it off ?????

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