• Loading stock data...
Monday, June 24, 2024

Inside the Meteoric Rise of College Football Bowl Games

Photo credit: CFP
bowl games - college football - sports

Photo credit: CFP

The number of college football bowl games has more than doubled in the past 30 years.

Originally, they were meant as community-based attractions to bring people to town, like the Rose and Orange bowls, said Wright Waters, the executive director of the Football Bowl Association. As the number of games has exploded — from 19 in 1990 to 40 this year — Waters said the general concept is still the same.

“There is still a benefit to the community,” he said. “It’s like an Olympic city; you’re listed in USA Today every day for at least a month and you’re on TV. Local communities want to be a bowl city.”

While the overall economic impact of each bowl varies greatly — especially as it deviates from the traditional and major bowl games; there were only 11 in 1970 and eight in 1960 — Waters said there are significant benefits for the communities and schools involved.

“I’m OK with the number of bowl games,” Waters said. “The reason we have so many is the benefit of going to a bowl game is so significant.”

READ MORE: Are Bowl Games Really Worth It? 

He said spring practice season has become so greatly restricted, the extra three weeks of practice for bowl games is important for the teams. It also provides an extra win for many teams.

“The neat thing is, in the bowl system, half the teams end the year with a win, unlike other championships,” Waters said. “It allows coaches to recruit with ‘We won a game and are on the way up.’”

Waters also pointed to the ability for universities using the bowl games as a fundraising opportunity, and he believes the “Flutie Effect” is real — applications for admission go up with a team’s win on national television.

The surge in bowl game numbers really started in 2000, Waters said, and it was in the ensuing decade ESPN really began pushing Bowl Week — the early slate of bowl games leading into Christmas. Those bowls are great for content fillers and provide the local communities with an event to rally around.

[mc4wp_form id=”8260″]

They, however, have little economic impact, said Bruce Seaman, associate professor in the department of economics at Georgia State University. Seaman regularly studies the economic impact of bowl games and sporting events, especially of those in Georgia State’s home of Atlanta.

Seaman, unlike Waters, is concerned there might be too many bowl games, but jokes with a jovial tone about the subject. With a larger field, the importance of bowl games becomes greatly diluted.

“We have too many; that’s clear,” Seaman said. “At some point we’ll have so many the only criteria will be two wins.”

There is a slew of teams with 6-6 records in bowl games this season, and there have been five teams with 5-7 records in the past 12 years.

“I’m OK with that,” Waters said of the records. “As long as we’re ranking them by academic progress, I’m OK. Isn’t it neat we’re rewarding them for being good students instead of penalizing them?”

READ MORE: Inside the Event Management Playbook for College Football Bowl Games

It also keeps the end of the regular season competitive for more teams, Waters said.

“I’m old enough to remember when we didn’t have but 20 bowls,” he said. “Now, it’s the last week of the season and teams are jockeying for their sixth win or getting to seven because it improves their bowl outlook.”

If teams start to decline their bowl invitations, then the bowl season might start to look different — but for now, Waters said the communities across the country will continue to want to host and teams will want to play.

“We rarely hear a team that qualifies say, ‘We don’t want to go,’” Waters said. “Teams and universities want to be on national TV, and it’s important to make the numbers work, but there are different ways to do that.”

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

College Bowl Games Using NIL Contracts ‘Right Around the Corner’

The top executive of Bowl Season envisions a complicated future.
Jan 13, 2021; Washington, DC, USA; The U.S. Capitol Building is seen on Jan. 13, 2021, one week after it was stormed by a pro-Trump mob while a joint session of Congress was certifying the 2020 election victory of President Elect Joe Biden.

House Committee Sends Bill Banning College Athlete Employment to House Floor

The bill has gone further than any other athlete compensation legislation.

The ‘Big’ in Big 12 Could Soon Be Replaced With a Sponsor’s Name

Allstate is said to be in discussions about a deal with the Big 12.
May 10, 2024; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Caleb Williams during a press conference before Chicago Bears rookie minicamp at Halas Hall.

Caleb Williams Launches Investment Firm Before Signing a Bears Contract

Williams announced 888 Midas for private equity, VC, and real estate deals.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

Clock is Ticking to Restart Coyotes’ Franchise


Featured Today

Jan 3, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; General view of the NFL shield logo signage before the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field.

Odds Stacked Against NFL in Multibillion-Dollar Sunday Ticket Trial

Why the class action trial does not look promising for the league.
Jan 7, 2024; San Francisco, California, USA; Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter (11) takes a three-point shot against the Golden State Warriors during the second half at Chase Center.
June 9, 2024

‘Bound to Happen’: The Age of the Sports Betting Scandal Has Arrived

A banishment, betting scheme, and guilty plea all in one scandal-filled span.
June 8, 2024

‘Experimental in Nature’: The Rapid, Confounding Rise of Streaming Bundles

Here’s why confusion continues to outweigh solutions in the streaming package boom.
June 2, 2024

The Nostalgia Market: Michael Jordan’s Memorabilia Remains Coveted, With Caveats

Due to scarcity, and sometimes, items’ undisclosed whereabouts, this world has limitations.

Top Sports Business Jobs This Week (May 2024)

Each week, our staff combs through the thousands of job listings from…
August 10, 2022

PGA Tour Touts Projected Earnings to Keep Players

The PGA Tour is asking its players to consider their potential futures.
October 3, 2022

Real Madrid President Renews Call for Super League

Real Madrid’s president believes that soccer is losing ground.

How HOKA is Reimagining the NIL Relationship

HOKA, the renowned athletic footwear and apparel brand, is betting on a new reality with NIL.
August 10, 2022

Bayern Munich to Make Growth Push in U.S. Market

Bayern Munich is looking to expand its reach in the U.S.
August 3, 2022

Nintendo Profits Underwhelm, Switch Sales Decline

Nintendo failed to meet expectations in the company’s latest earnings report.
August 19, 2021

MLB Owners Propose $100M Salary Floor

Major League Baseball owners have proposed a $100 million payroll minimum for MLB’s 30 teams and a lower luxury tax threshold.
July 23, 2021

NFL to Players: Get Vaccinated or Pay the Price

The NFL’s threatening to drop the financial hammer on un-vaccinated players and teams that cause forfeited games in 2021, according to memo.