Thursday, January 8, 2009

The REAL reason we'll always have the BCS bowl system

As a longhorn, I'm obviously a proponent of going to a playoff system instead of the current BCS bowl game system. Unfortunately, I've realized a dark truth that I believe explains why we will NEVER get that system. It's not all about tradition, "That's the way we've always done it," though I'm sure that bent plays a part. It's not because, as the BCS claims, "It would be hard on players," which is a crock. It's not even due to some anti-Texas sentiment I feel is prevalent in many sports, both pro and college (even after winning four championships in seven years, the Spurs still can't get a top rating in the NBA). It's marketing, baby.

As with most things, the bowl games started getting sponsors. Now, it's the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. These sponsorships raise a ton of money for schools who play in the bowls, the stadium owners, and revenue for the towns where the bowls are played. It's such a lucrative practice for both sides that there are now 34 bowls. That means bowl games for 68 teams.

Sponsors don't even necessarily have to compete for the existing bowls anymore. If there isn't a bowl you want to sponsor available, create your own! There are bowls that don't have names of their own- they're ONLY branded bowls, like the EagleBank Bowl and the Meineke Car Care Bowl. What does this mean? It means that there are already more sponsorship opportunities than would likely be available with a playoff system. It also means that under the current system, there is essentially an unlimited inventory of sponsorship opportunities- as long as there are teams to play and venues to host, you can create more bowls, since most are only loosely based on a variety of stats and standings at any given point.

If you had a property where you could sell advertising, would you rather reduce the amount of space you had available or opt for a system where you can keep creating space whenever you need it? You'd do the latter, just like the BCS will do, much to the chagrin of many college football fans who are more interested in fair season outcomes than BCS revenue streams.

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