Division I (FBS) football is the only NCAA sport without a formal tournament to determine an undisputed national champion. Instead, the FBS concludes the football season by having teams play in a cornucopia of games that follow the regular season and any conference championship games, culminating in the BCS National Championship Game, which crudely attempts to crown a single national champion. Instead of being called the postseason, it's colloquially called Bowl Season, and these bowl games come with varying degrees of appeal because, after all, there are 35 of them. Just to put that number into some sort of perspective there were only 124 FBS football programs in 2012, and yet somehow 70 of them have been invited to participate in Bowl Season (actually even more could have participated, but one team inadvertently declined their invitation, a few others were declared ineligible and unable to accept an invitation, and yet another looked out on the horizon of bowl possibilities and decided to just make themself ineligible for bowl season). So, all in all that is a staggering 56% of the FBS teams who will be bowling this year, which means making the playoffs in the National Hockey League is officially a more daunting task.
The ease with which teams are able to qualify for Bowl Season routinely yields a bumper crop of eager programs ready to pack their bags for more football, yet bowl executives, the men who are paid extravagantly to size up all the qualifiers in order to decide who to link with whom so that their bowl will be a matchup for the ages, are only slightly better at matchmaking than AshleyMadison.com (which, for those of you who are not married, is a dating site created for people who are partial to infidelity). This year in particular there are an unusually large number of flavorless bordering on tasteless matchups, games that make you want to instead listen to 50 Shades of Gray on audio tape as read by your mother or plan a three state family vacation using only public transportation. To call this Bowl Season a mind-numbingly boring Bowl Season is to test the bounds of sarcasm.
Below are the 10 most uninteresting bowl games of the 2012 Bowl Season. These are the bowls that seem completely pointless, if not uncalled for. Without further ado:
10. Little Caesars Bowl - Western Kentucky v. Central Michigan. Nothing spells excitement like a Sun Belt versus Mid-American Conference (MAC) matchup of teams nowhere near the top of either conference. What makes this year's matchup especially unbearable is it doesn't include Curtis Painter. Central Michigan was coveted, one has to presume, because their campus is already in the state of Michigan and less than two hours drive from Detroit (the arctic bowl locale), thus perhaps saving money on hotel accommodations? Oh, and they didn't finish last in the MAC (they finished 7th). Thankfully that blunder is balanced out by the invitation of Western Kentucky, a team that capped their barely successful season by finishing 5th in the Sun Belt. Ah, the Sun Belt Conference: a baseball conference masquerading as a basketball conference disguised as a football conference. It makes you long for the days when the Sun Belt also included football-only programs like Idaho and Utah State, and a 5th place finish in football really meant something.
9. Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl - Rice v. Air Force. This bowl game is just confusing. Why? Well, for starters, the bowl game has NOT included anyone affiliated with the armed forces, unless you include the security company that watches over the breakfast buffet on media day, in 5 of the 9 years it's existed. Which tells you either every branch of the military thinks the bowl is such an embarrassment they're not above calling on government contacts to wriggle their way out of it or all of the service academies are just so god-awful they usually cannot qualify for the game. This year, however, neither is true (well, it is, Navy with a better record was able to steer clear of it), as a thoroughly terrible Rice team will compete against a dreadful Air Force team. Thankfully the game kicks-off at the military hour of 10:00am, on the worst bowl day of the season, and the game is played in arguably the worst stadium of all the bowls --- Amon G. Carter Stadium, home of TCU. A stadium built at the height of the depression in a state that was utterly devastated economically at that time. A stadium so crude that many of the best "seats" in the house, are not seats at all. They're 50 year old wood plank with numbers spray painted on them. So, it's not inconceivable that outside of the plebes the Air Force orders to attend (as a sort of hazing), no one may actually go to this thing, or watch it on television.
8. AutoZONE Liberty Bowl - Iowa State v. Tulsa. This New Year's Eve rematch of two teams almost no one cares about outside of their respective fanbases, is sure to be ignored. Remember that the vast, vast majority of college football fans will be resting up for Amateur Night which will be in full gear a scant 4-hours after kick-off, so there's that reason people will neglect this game. But once you factor in that these two negligible football programs played earlier this season and will be playing for the third time in less than a year after the final whistle on this dud (Tulsa is hosting Iowa State in September 2013), you have every reason to treat this game the same way you would a rerun of I Love Lucy: if you miss it, you're not really missing anything.
7. AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl - Ohio v. Louisiana-Monroe. In the good old days this bowl was called the "Poulan Weed-Eater Bowl," seriously. Trust me on this; the weedwhacker years were the Days of Wine and Roses for this dog. In case you were wondering, AdvoCare, the title sponsor of this bowl game, makes weight loss drinks. Shreveport, Louisiana, which is where this game is being played, is ground zero for America's obesity problem. So there is that compelling angle. Otherwise, this match-up is proof that the NCAA needs to go on a serious bowl game diet.
6. Military Bowl: Presented By Northrop Grumman - San Jose State v. Bowling Green. And you thought there was only one military bowl game. Admit it, silly. Now that you've learned there's a second military bowl game you're thinking, "It has to include a military academy, right?" Wrong. And, of course, now you're just feeling trolled. So is the rest of America. Let's move along.
5. Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl - Navy v. Arizona State. Okay, this is the portion of the bowl schedule where you realize they're just fucking with us. First off, this game is played in a baseball stadium (AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants). Secondly, the choice of title for this bowl is nothing short of creepy. But, once you learn more about the inner workings of this bowl you might actually get mad. For example, Kraft is the maker of some of America's most unhealthy food products. Kraft signed on to this bowl in order to pimp out their corporate "hunger relief initiative." They pay the bowl director who runs this thing almost $400,000 a year. So, this sports entertainment product is made possible by a mac and cheese conglomerate that wants to help starving kids by turning them on to junk food while wildly overpaying an executive to put together an awful football game, in a baseball stadium. This is the magnanimous bowl season you've always heard about. The cherry on top of all this? This is the bowl that proved to be the most attractive to the one military academy that should even be in a bowl game.
4. Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg - Central Florida v. Ball State. If you are one of the unlucky few that's never been to a Beef O'Brady chain restaurant, you're colon thanks you. It's basically a sports bar dressed up as a family pub that sells food that's cooked in either a deep fryer or under a warming broiler. I must confess that I have eaten at a Beef O'Brady's on two occasions and when I say the only thing I've ever eaten there that I was able to keep down until it passed was the Fish N' Chips, I'm not intentionally being ironic, but I might have been moronic to have gone in the first place. Now on to the game. Florida fancies itself as a huge football state, second perhaps to only Texas. That is until the night of December 21st, when roughly 20,000 people will find themselves in Tropicana Field, and outside of the hired help and the players themselves, about 100 will actually be people who live in Florida, and of those nearly all will have gotten their tickets for free. I often vacation over the holidays in the Tampa/St. Pete area as I have family there. I read the local newspapers when I visit. I have never seen a single column inch of space dedicated to this game. This is the ultimate "why the fuck" bowl game. I half think ESPN televises this bowl game to screen out some interns and show Rod Gilmore who's boss.
3. R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl - East Carolina v. Louisiana Lafayette. This game is being played in a little over two weeks and ESPN's comprehensive bowl season coverage literally has "no preview available" for this game. None. ‘Nuff said.
2. Discover Orange Bowl - Northern Illinois v. Florida State. There was a time when a match-up of these two storied programs would have been the most eagerly anticipated of all the bowl games. No, there wasn't. Ever. That is what's known as a lie. This game is what's wrong with the whole damn college bowl season. I know there will be people who will tune-in to the game because of the macabre element; while others will think, Schadenfreude Springs Eternal. This is, of course, a BCS Bowl game and as such one would expect the teams involved would be from college football's high society. However, this clearly is not the case. The head coach for Northern Illinois, who we all know will never sniff another opportunity to coach in a BCS Bowl game ever again, nevertheless could not wait to abandon his Northern Illinois life-raft to captain of the USS North Carolina State. Meanwhile, Florida State without Bobby Bowden in charge has become little more than a pumped up South Florida. Which makes sense because Northern Illinois is little more than a pumped up Illinois, a team that lost to the only BCS AQ team on their schedule (but who that team was escapes me as I write this). Wait a second! Northern Illinois did beat an AQ team. They beat 1-11 Kansas by scoring 17 unanswered points in the 4th quarter. Good Lord! What has happened to the BCS? The Orange Bowl used to be one of those bowls that you could depend on giving you a lusty match-up of two of college football's finest programs to have never meet, matchups of lore like Oklahoma versus Michigan! Now? It's the game of contractual obligation.
1. GoDaddy.com Bowl - Kent State v. Arkansas State. Go daddy? Go fuck yourself. This is the ultimate excess of the bowl season. Played as the appetizer to the Discover (isn't that cute) BCS National Championship Game, this bowl match-up pits two teams whose coaches are so deeply uncommitted to these fledgling, fly-by-night football programs that they've combined to coach for all of three seasons and as of last week both sprinted out of Dodge to coach at real football programs. So they won't be coaching these shitball teams in this shitball bowl. What a shame. Meanwhile, the programs invited to this bowl will both lose their shirts by agreeing to ever play in this game, which has one of the most miserly payouts of all the bowls. If the game itself is not unwatchable enough for ya, the inane GoDaddy.com commercials that'll be peppering the airwaves from kickoff to conclusion should prove to be more than enough to ensure the lowest rated bowl game of a very lackluster Bowl Season.