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Bad Idea Time: Move all of bowl season to Week 0

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Preserve the bowls by separating them from the Playoff, and move these matchups to a time when people will actually care about them.

During the offseason I (Godfrey) was at a bar with a college football coach when we figured out how to fix bowl games.

We = He. But I wrote it down. This, as best as I can recall and from whatever made it to the notes app on my phone, is the summation of a great idea born in blurry circumstances: Move the bowls to August.

Coach: Can you tell me why we play these damn bowl games on December 10 or whatever?

Godfrey: Bowls make TV networks money.

Coach: Yeah but who gives a shit when you’re both 6-6 and you’re playing in some NFL stadium?

Godfrey: Don’t you have a bonus in your contract for making a bowl?

Coach: Yeah.

Godfrey: Don’t you want the extra practices for making a bowl?

Coach: Our coaches care more about that than the bowl, unless it’s a really big bowl.

Godfrey: I think you’re supposed to say it’s all a reward for your team and your seniors.

Coach: Yeah that’s kind of horseshit, unless every bowl is in South Beach or the Bahamas. “Congrats guys, we’re goin’ to Detroit!”

Godfrey: Well it’s not like they’re gonna get rid of bowls. Even the ones that nobody wants to attend. It’s TV inventory.

Coach: But that’s what I’m thinking. Why not put the bowls in Week 0? Why does Florida get to play Miami in August?

[I inform him about the iffy reasoning for moving 2019’s Florida-Miami to Week 0.]

Coach: See? That’s a bowl game, more or less. It’s basically an exhibition. So move them all to that week.

Godfrey: The Rose Bowl won’t.

Coach: Leave it. You want to stay on New Year’s, that’s fine. Have a real playoff with eight teams, and if the Rose or the Sugar or whatever wants to stay, they can.

Godfrey: So the Quick Lane Bowl is in August?

Coach: Which one is that?

Godfrey: Detroit.

Coach: Hell yes. Michigan’s pretty nice in the summer.

Godfrey: I’ll take your word for it.

Coach: Every bowl game is in better weather in August. More people would want to go. And the games would be better. Pull up the list of bowls.

[I start reading out 2018 bowl matchups.]

Coach: Purdue and Auburn, where was that?

Godfrey: Nashville.

Coach: That’s perfect. Play that in August. Wisconsin and Miami? They don’t want to play that game in December. They’re recruiting. They’re hiring coaches. They’ve got kids beat up. Play that in Week 0, and it’s a great game.

Godfrey: That one was at Yankee Stadium. Might be a problem.

Coach: Move it to the Meadowlands.

Godfrey: Or Rutgers!

[We laugh.]

Coach: What’s on TV in August? Nothing. ESPN would love it. You take those 15 or 20 bad bowl games and move them to August. If you have a new coach or you’re on probation, you just decline the invite. You still get your practices. Take them when you want.

Me: Louisiana-Monroe and Wyoming would love that. There’s nothing on TV anyway. Wouldn’t these games get better ratings in August? You get an extra weekend of college football? What is ESPN showing then? The Little League World Series.

Coach: Who gives a shit about the Little League World Series?

Let’s use 2019’s Week 0 as an example of how this could look.

I (Jason) put together a plan based on this idea. I’ve made mine more radical than Coach’s, just for fun.

  1. FBS adopts an eight-, 16-, 24-, or 64-team Playoff, however big you want. Instead of bowls, this is what happens in December/January. This part is beside the point here.
  2. Move every bowl game to Week 0. Rose and Sugar and all.

Week 0 is always fun and all, but here’s what 2019’s Week 0 could’ve looked like if we’d set up August games with 2018’s field (CFP teams and all), using 2019 conference ties and various other bowl projections rules. Imagine starting the season with this:

  • Alamo in San Antonio: #10 Texas vs. #23 Washington State
  • Arizona in Tucson: San Diego State vs. UL-Lafayette
  • Armed Forces in Fort Worth: Army vs. Boise State
  • Bahamas: FIU vs. Ohio
  • Belk in Charlotte: NC State vs. South Carolina
  • Birmingham: Temple vs. Virginia Tech
  • Boca Raton: USF vs. UAB
  • Camellia in Montgomery, AL: Buffalo vs. Troy
  • Camping World in Orlando: #22 Syracuse vs. West Virginia
  • Cheez-It in Phoenix: Oklahoma State vs. Cal
  • Citrus in Orlando: Northwestern vs. Kentucky
  • Cotton in Arlington, TX: #3 Georgia vs. #7 Michigan
  • Cure in Orlando: Tulane vs. Arkansas State
  • Fiesta in Glendale, AZ: #6 LSU vs. #15 Penn State
  • First Responder in Dallas: Baylor vs. North Texas
  • Gasparilla in Tampa: Memphis vs. Middle Tennessee
  • Gator in Jacksonville: #18 Michigan State vs. Mississippi State
  • Hawaii: Hawaii vs. BYU
  • Holiday in San Diego: #19 Wisconsin vs. #14 Utah
  • Independence in Shreveport, LA: Duke vs. Southern Miss
  • Las Vegas: Fresno State vs. Arizona State
  • Liberty in Memphis: TCU vs. Vanderbilt
  • Military in Annapolis, MD: Cincinnati vs. Virginia
  • Mobile: NIU vs. Georgia Southern
  • Music City in Nashville: Georgia Tech vs. Missouri
  • New Mexico in Albuquerque: Marshall vs. Utah State
  • New Orleans: Louisiana Tech vs. Appalachian State
  • Orange in Miami: #1 Clemson vs. #9 Notre Dame
  • Outback in Tampa: #20 Iowa vs. #12 Texas A&M
  • Peach in Atlanta: #8 Florida vs. #17 UCF
  • Pinstripe in New York City: Pitt vs. Purdue
  • Potato in Boise: Toledo vs. Nevada
  • Quick Lane in Detroit: Boston College vs. Eastern Michigan
  • Redbox in Santa Clara, CA: Minnesota vs. #11 Oregon
  • Rose in Pasadena, CA: #5 Ohio State vs. #13 Washington
  • Sugar in New Orleans: #4 Oklahoma vs. #2 Alabama
  • Sun in El Paso: Miami vs. #25 Stanford
  • Texas in Houston: #21 Iowa State vs. #16 Auburn
  • Tropical Smoothie in Frisco, TX: Houston vs. Wake Forest

Some of these bowls happened IRL in December/January. Some were reasonably anticipated at the time.

But how much better do these matchups look if we’ve spent all offseason daydreaming about them, rather than giving them a few minutes of the spare attention left over after the Playoff, Signing Day, coaching changes, playoffs at other levels, Army-Navy, Heisman, the NFL, and the holidays? A lot better.

This would preserve the bowl system by preventing the CFP from barreling over bowls. No one is all that excited about a non-semifinal Fiesta Bowl in December — even though that’s one of the biggest bowls! — but make it the next season’s opener? Now we’re excited.

And now, I (Jason) will field some FAQs:

Won’t this make the season too long? This takes up one non-conference spot for each team. We’ll stay at 12 regular season games, and by stretching the season, we can add in another bye week for everybody.

What about hot weather in the South in August? This might be how we finally get some bowl games up north. You suuure we need 317 bowls in Orlando?

What about neutral-site openers? Well, now those are more fun. Playing in the Peach Bowl sounds more impressive than playing in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, and basing “New Year’s Six games” (we’ll need a new name for the big bowls) on recent CFP rankings likely leads to a better game. For example, it would mean Duke not having to play Alabama in football.

They’ll never agree to your internet idea. That’s why I (Jason) am college football dictator now. Arrive or forfeit.

Florida would never agree to play UCF as an equal. Fortunately, we’ve just made that decision for Florida.

Won’t the Rose Bowl be mad about leaving New Year’s? Yes. Luckily, they have a parade for New Year’s and can continue making money off football on the date I assign them.

What about seniors who don’t get to play in their final bowl games? They skip those to prepare for the NFL anyway! I’m kidding. They all get to play in a 256-team Playoff now.

What about teams that didn’t reach six wins the year prior? Perhaps they could pair up amongst themselves. Perhaps they could retain schedule flexibility and seek easy wins or easy money (since non-bowl teams are the teams most likely to be in need of those things). Perhaps we need more bowl games.

What if we have too many bowl-eligible teams, especially now that we’re moving Playoff teams into the following year’s bowls? We need more bowl games.

But there are already too many bowl games, right? There are not too many bowl games.

Why did Coach say that mean thing about the Little League World Series? I’m sorry.