December Is Too Busy and Bowl Season Suffers

David Marsh Editorials

College Football has changed so much in the past decade. In the early 2010s, the value of bowl games was clear for teams and players alike. Making a bowl game, even a bad bowl game, was the reward for a decent, or even good, season. Then starting in 2014, the value of bowl games started to decline with the College Football Playoff, but this change wasn’t a wholesale change in mindset.

Mr. FishDuck discussed this bowl decline with me after he settled on a good online betting location, and you can find these on sites such as SilentBet and they are a great way for new players.

In many ways, the College Football Playoff gave a couple games more value, but the gold standard of bowl games still remained the New Year’s Six. Though it was around the same time that star players started opting out of lesser bowl games, playing in a New Year’s Six bowl game was still worth it for players.

Previously, the opt-outs had been limited to players with high-round NFL Draft aspirations, but now with the transfer portal, those opt-outs extend to transferring players. This is perhaps the biggest detractor from bowl games, because it will gut teams of some of their best players before they even begin bowl game prep. The transfer portal has only been open since early December, but already more than 3,000 players have entered the portal.

Most of the players in the portal aren’t starters — they are backups looking for a better opportunity. However, the cream of the transfer portal are starters who are highly sought-after commodities. Though these players have effectively opted out of their bowl games once they enter the transfer portal because they lose their scholarships and are off the team.

Dont’e Thornton entered the transfer portal upon its opening and will not be with the Ducks in the Holiday Bowl.

In this year’s Holiday Bowl, Oregon’s opponent, the University of North Carolina, has lost both of their starting cornerbacks and a few of their backups. The Oregon Ducks are going to be without Dont’e Thornton, who was a breakout wide receiver at the end of the season, along with defensive end DJ Johnson, and linebacker Noah Sewell, (and other backups) but on the whole Oregon should have the majority of its starters. Take these transfers and add them to the opt outs, and neither team is going to be fielding a roster that resembles the group that got them to the bowl game in the first place.

The biggest problem with the transfer portal is that for players to actually transfer to their new schools in time for winter term, they need to make that decision as soon as the season ends, which puts the transfer portal window squarely in December. There’s no way around it. If there is going to be a transfer portal, it needs to be in December, and the transfer portal is an institution that isn’t going anywhere, so this distraction in the midst of bowl season is here to stay.

Early Signing Day

Early Signing Day is great for fans, recruits, and potentially even coaches, but it is awful for bowl games. I already wrote at length about this issue last year, but the fact still remains that the Early Signing Day takes all of the focus away from the team that is going to compete in a bowl game and puts it on recruits who will have no impact on game.

Even fans have transitioned out of bowl games to recruiting. Check any message board for any team and all the chatter is going to be about recruiting over their bowl game. Sure, there will be a few bowl game threads, but that will be about it. The focus should be on the players, the roster, and the bowl game, which should be seen as a reward and opportunity, instead of a race to fill out the recruiting class. However, for this to change the early signing period date must change, too.

Bo Nix was probably the biggest recruiting achievement this December.

Unlike the transfer portal, there is really no need for the early signing period in mid December. If a recruit is going to enroll in school early, they don’t need to sign a Letter of Intent (LOI) because they will just enroll and be on campus as a student. The signing period should be moved to early or mid January so that it doesn’t compete with the bowl games.

The Coaching Carousel

Not every team is affected equally by the coaching carousel. For instance, last year Oregon was in the thick of it with a new head coaching hire and all assistant coaching positions needing to be filled. This year, the only coaching position that Oregon needed to fill was offensive coordinator, which has been done. However, even filling just the one spot has caused its fair share of chaos in the program because of the aforementioned early signing period. For teams with coaching changes, this can result in the loss of recruits. It was certainly one of the reasons that Dante Moore de-committed and Austin Novosad flipped to the Ducks.

This is also probably one of the least problematic parts of Bowl Season. Most schools looking to renovate their entire coaching staffs didn’t make a bowl game, and other schools probably only had a few hires to make before their bowl, which has been the norm for years. Last year’s Alamo Bowl game suffered from two head coaching departures earlier in the month. The game didn’t even feel worth watching, as both programs were in transition.

Even though the coaching carousel is nothing new, when it is aligned with the transfer portal, opt-outs, and the early signing period, where does that leave the bowl game?

Just a glorified scrimmage and not the adequate conclusion to a season that it should be.

David Marsh
Portland, Oregon
Top Photo By Tom Corno

Andrew Mueller, the Volunteer Editor for this article, works in higher education in Chicago, Illinois.

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