Big Bowl Games Dot College Footballs Last Week
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
New Year's Day means college football bowl games, lots of them. Six games are played today. Even so, it will be another week before the national champion is determined. That's a major change in tradition.
Commentator John Feinstein joins us now. And Happy New Year, John.
JOHN FEINSTEIN: Happy New Year, Renee.
MONTAGNE: Before we talk about today's games, John, didn't the college football season used to end on New Year's Day?
FEINSTEIN: Absolutely. It used to end just before midnight with the playing of the Orange Bowl game, and all the big bowl games were played on New Year's Day. But with the advent of the ball championship series and the big money schools looking for more money, there will now be six more games played after today in the next week, culminating with the National Championship game between Florida and Ohio State a week from today, on January 8th.
MONTAGNE: So what, tradition nice, but up to only a certain point?
FEINSTEIN: Exactly. You know when the presidents of the big schools talked about why there's no playoff as there should be in college football, they cite, quote, unquote, “the tradition of the bowls.” But they keep changing the tradition of the bowls. They keep moving the bowl season back. They keep creating more corporate partnerships. So they use tradition when it suits them, and then throw it away when it doesn't suit them.
MONTAGNE: Well, so what about today's games? Can any of them effect who wins the National Championship?
FEINSTEIN: Yes, as a matter of fact, specifically the Rose Bowl. Michigan lost its only game to Ohio State at Ohio State. If it were to win today against Southern California, especially if it wins convincingly, and then a week from today Florida beats Ohio State, there will be a split national champion. Florida will win in one poll and Michigan will win in the other poll. This is what happened three years ago with Southern Cal winning the Rose Bowl. And if Michigan wins today, I think that's exactly what will happen again this year.
MONTAGNE: And there's a one other game, very intriguing today, isn't there?
FEINSTEIN: Yeah. The Fiesta Ball, which is the last game of the long day. It doesn't start till 8:30 Eastern Time tonight. Boise State is the only other undefeated team other than Ohio State in the country. But because it doesn't play in one of the big money conferences, it's not allowed in the National Championship game. So it's in a Fiesta Ball against Oklahoma, a very good team.
And this is Boise State's chance at 12-0 to prove that it can play with the big boys and also to send a message that it's not fair to just eliminate a team from National Championship consideration because of the conference it plays in. There will be some people if Boise State wins tonight who, as a protest, will vote it number one in the final poll. And I'd love to see that.
MONTAGNE: And, John, if there were a playoff, would all the traditions of New Year's Day disappear?
FEINSTEIN: No, absolutely not. They don't have to disappear. You can keep the bowl system in place. You could play four bowl games, major bowl games on New Year's Day, as part of the playoff quarterfinal games leading to the National Championship game. The tradition of the bowls, the good tradition of the bowls, not the corporate tradition, doesn't have to change. You can have the tradition of the bowls. You can have a playoff. You can have everything if the presidents will just stop worrying about money all the time.
MONTAGNE: The comments of John Feinstein. He's the author of “Next Man Up: a Year Behind the Lines in Today's NFL.”