Beauty of what bowl games mean is in the eye of the TV beholder

There is still one college football game to be played this year but there are no more bowl games. I know that all too well, because I’m still having withdrawal pains because of it.

What happens in the CFP championship game will have a lasting impact for years to come and that’s fine. It has no “bowl” designation, unlike the semifinals, which were disguised as bowl games.

I love bowl season. It’s right up there with the intersection of the Final Four/MLB Opening Day/Masters, only that happens during the spring and the weather is nice and you don’t feel locked to your 65-inch Smart TV. I want every day during bowl season to be 38 degrees and rainy; zero reason to go outside to even get the mail.

People complain that there are too many bowl games. Or that they are “meaningless games.”

I beg to differ.

Though I’m not a fan of a team with a losing record getting a bowl invite so that they have an even more losing-er record – take a bow, 5-and-8 Rice – but otherwise, as long as you can find a way to get the game, you’re invited.

One caveat – the worse your record, the earlier in the day you have to play. I actually found myself longing for an 8 a.m. game a couple of times during the last week in December. You mean I have to wait until 11 o’clock?

As for the “meaningless games” concept, that depends on how you want to look at it. In its glorious eight-year history, has the Bahamas Bowl really lost its meaning? Of course not! In fact, the first Bahamas Bowl, which I watched (of course), had one of the greatest endings to a game I’ve ever seen. (Look it up.)

I read a description about these games that puts it perfectly: “These aren’t meaningless games. They are games with less meaning.”

Yes, all bowl games are not created equally, whether it’s because of the growing separation between the tiers of games or because of players “opting out.”

But no matter what degree of “meaning,” this may have been one the greatest runs of great games in a bowl season that we have seen.

* Both of the semifinal games were great, which has never happened.

* Tulane’s win over USC was incredible.

* How often do you see a game like the Liberty Bowl (Arkansas in 2 OTs, 55-53 over Kansas)?

* Mississippi State won one for their deceased coach Mike Leach … and for those who bet on the Bulldogs … with an ultimate Bad-Beat victory over Illinois.

* Notre Dame came back from two touchdowns behind – and gave up two Pick-6s – to beat South Carolina.

* With the game tied and only seconds remaining, Oregon’s kicker doinked one against the upright but somehow it bounced through to beat North Carolina.

All told, 12 games were decided by a field goal or less. A bunch more came down to the last possession.

Opt-outs are a divisive issue, but they aren’t going away any time soon. Sure, we all want our school to be at full strength instead of looking like Purdue’s intramural team. And did you notice that it became a news story when Alabama’s Bryce Young and Will Anderson opted in?

You constantly hear that some of these players skipping bowl games are doing so “to get ready for the NFL Draft,” even though they will be lucky to go in the seventh round.

And then there are those like Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer, who is likely a first-round choice. Interviewed on the sideline during the Gator Bowl, in which he chose not to play, he was asked what he had been doing since the end of the regular season.

Basically he said he hadn’t been doing much of anything, just taking it easy and hanging with his family and friends. So that’s what it takes to get ready for the draft? That gets you more NFL ready than actually playing in, you know, a football game?

Interesting that a couple of hours later, the winning touchdown pass was caught by Mayer’s backup. A guy who actually wanted to play in that game, no matter how much meaning there was. 

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