BOZICH | Buyer Beware: Taking 5 bowl game myths through the trut - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Buyer Beware: Taking 5 bowl game myths through the truth shredder

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Will bowl attendance decline for a sixth straight season? Will bowl attendance decline for a sixth straight season?

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The countdown clock is whirring. What will begin Saturday at 2 p.m. in Albuquerque (I wonder if Walter White is backing Arizona or New Mexico) will conclude Jan. 11 in Glendale, Ariz., (when Oklahoma win the national title).

By my last count, we’re looking at 41 games in 24 days in locations stretched from the South Bronx to the Bahamas to Honolulu to Santa Clara, Calif., with can’t miss stops in Annapolis, Shreveport and Birmingham.

As somebody with experience covering bowls in Mobile, Memphis and Detroit, I’ve heard all the bowl chatter (without being able to cover the Rose Bowl, the largest gap on my sports writing bucket list).

I know all the bowl talk – as well as the bowl baloney. As you listen to coaches talk for the next month, here is my primary advice:

Buyer Beware.

1. Extra Practices Make You Better

I wanted to get Steve Spurrier’s reaction to that poppycock, but The Head Ball Coach turned off his office phone in October.

Spurrier won his last four bowl games at South Carolina – and then went fishing in the middle of this season. The trouble is Spurrier’s perennial bowl program went fishing in September and finished 3-9.

No bowl bump for the Gamecocks.

It wasn’t just a Spurrier Thing. Seven coaches who took their teams to bowl games last season either resigned like Spurrier or were fired by the end of this season.

Not all of them were slugs. One was George O’Leary of Central Florida. Another was Randy Edsall of Maryland.

The final count: Despite all those bonus extra practices last season, 14 programs that played in bowls last season delivered losing records this season, a list that includes Georgia Tech, Missouri and Texas.

2. Missing a Bowl Puts You Behind

If playing in a bowl game gives you an advantage, then missing a bowl game must put your program at a considerable disadvantage, correct?

Tell that to Michigan – 5-7 last season, 9-3 this season, despite missing all those bonus practices.

Ditto for Northwestern, which jumped from 5-7 to 10-2.

Or Texas Tech, California, Indiana, South Florida or New Mexico.

I won’t mention every school, but I found 19 programs that will participate in a bowl this season after sitting at home a year ago. You can credit several spots to bowl expansion. The bowl calendar grows every year.

But that doesn’t explain what Michigan, Northwestern, Texas Tech, California, IU, USF and a few others achieved.

3. It’s a Reward for the Players

I’m not sure how you define the reward, but tell me if this qualifies:

The chance to spend three or four late December days in downtown Detroit. One of those days might include Christmas. You probably get a gift card, a shopping trip and a curfew.

Then, if you’re Minnesota, you get an opportunity to play Central Michigan in a stadium that will likely be two-thirds empty. Lather, rinse and repeat during at least a dozen other games.

The Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl and a few other sunscreen locations are rewards. Let’s call the others what they are – 13th games.

Unless you are a coach, instead of a player. Coaches don’t deal in gift cards and shopping trips. They deal in bonus checks. Those usually start around $25,000 and can get as large as the $700,000 that Nick Saban is chasing at Alabama, according to a story in USA Today.

And coaches don't have to worry about concussions or torn ACLs.

4. Bowl Wins Enhance the Brand

Louisville is bound for the Music City Bowl. Notre Dame won the Music City Bowl last season, beating Louisiana State.

My take: Notre Dame enhanced the Music City brand more than the Music City brand enhanced the brand of Notre Dame.

Vanderbilt won the Music City bowl three seasons ago as well as in 2008.

Kentucky won the game in 2006 and 2007.

Any more questions about brand enhancement?

5. Fans Can’t Get Enough Football

That is absolutely true – unless you’re old-fashioned enough to believe that attendance matters.

If you think attendance is important, I’ll share the news that Jon Solomon of reported last January.

Bowl attendance declined for the fifth consecutive year last season. Some of the decline can be attributed to the addition of games like the Heart of Dallas and Famous Idaho Potato bowls. Bowl expansion led to a decline of nearly 9 percent in the per game average.

But Solomon reported that even if you limited the comparison to the 35 games that were also played at the end of the 2013 season, attendance slipped by four percent.

The Orange Bowl was down by more than 13,000. The Citrus Bowl by 8,000. The Outback Bowl by more than 7,000.

Call me old-fashioned.

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